Living in balance is sometimes unattainable by many working professionals. Ideally, you would exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, have a social life and achieve success at work. If you want o know more about exercising, you can check out my Exercising Starters Guide and it will link to everything you ever wanted to know about exercising.
It sometimes seems like we are putting too much pressure on ourselves, especially when it comes to eating. Since we first discovered that you could lose weight by reducing calorie intake, diets have taken the world by storm.
Nowadays, a new healthy eating trend has conquered the dieting world – intermittent fasting. Let’s see what it is, and what the benefits of following it are.
What is intermittent fasting?
Fasting is a well-known way of cleansing the body of toxins and other damaging effects of everyday life. Most people usually associate it with different religions. There, they use fasting as a way of respecting the deity and cleansing the body of harmful spirits.
However, in the 21st century, diets are all the rage, even though many still maintain that healthy eating and exercise is the only way to lose weight. That does not mean that alternative eating patterns are unhealthy.
Intermittent fasting is one of those patterns. It is not a diet per say, although many people use it just to shed pounds in a few months.
Because it is not technically a diet plan that you can follow, many consider it to be a hoax and not something that could actually work. However, different studies have shown multiple benefits of intermittent fasting.
There are various ways to use this pattern in your day-to-day life, and there are very few risks. The success is entirely up to you and whether or not you have the necessary discipline to follow it through.
How do you use it to your advantage?
Intermittent fasting is so widespread nowadays that people have come up with different methods of it. Currently, the favorites are:
This is, by far, the most popular one because it is easy to follow and does not require you to plan it out. The main thing is that you should fast for 16 hours, and eat in the span of 8 hours during the day.
It may seem like too much, but the easiest way is to combine those 16 hours with bedtime. For example, if you start eating at 12 PM, skipping breakfast, you can eat anything you’d like until 8 PM. After the clock strikes eight, the eating fest ends. And since most people go to bed around 10 PM, you will not feel any hunger pains during the night.
Personally, this is the one I follow, and after about 1 or 2 weeks, my appetite has gone down and my cravings are no longer there. The crazy thing is I used to get so hungry throughout the day I had a term I used called Hangry, because when I was supper hungry I would get very irritable and easily angered. The great thing is, I have not been Hangry 1 time since going on this intermittent fasting schedule.
It is important to note that since starting this method, I can do a 24 or 36 hour fast without blinking an eye. The hunger pangs just don’t really exist any longer.
This is a more advanced eating pattern that is not for the faint-hearted. Many experts feel that it may be too much for a beginner, so you should take it as you can.
It consists of fasting for 24 hours. You would not have to fast every other day or anything radical like that. It just means that once or twice a week, you stop eating food and survive on coffee, tea, and water.
Contrary to beliefs, this sort of fasting is quite reasonable in religious societies, and there are no side effects. However, it is complicated to transition to it if you have never done it before. You would have to ease into it for a few weeks before following it through.
The 5:2 Method
If you find that you do not like fasting for longer periods of time, then this method might work for you. This is probably the second most popular method.
You get to eat just like you usually do for five days a week, and then you fast for two days. However, the fast is not entirely without food – you just get a limited amount of calories.
Men can eat 600 calories, while women should stick to 500 calories during the fasting days. It is not much, but enough to maintain a bit more energy during the day.
This is also an advanced method because it involves eating very little during the whole day. Still, it helps if you divide the calories – you could eat 300 for breakfast, and 300 for dinner. That way, you would not feel as if you are starving. Moreover, you would be surprised to see how few calories a bunch of vegetables has.
You can pick the method you like the most, but remember that they are significant differences. Experts generally recommend the first method for beginners, and it is enough to get you started and help you lose weight.
You could also think of your own method. It does not have to be one of these – maybe neither of them agrees with you. That is what is so unique about intermittent fasting. It is a sort of a life hack for anyone who struggles with diets. You can change it however you want, and it does not hurt to try.
Effects intermittent fasting has on your body
Hormones and cells
Intermittent fasting can help you lead a healthy life, and it doesn’t just involve weight loss.
Studies have shown that this type of eating changes your hormonal status, as well as cells. When following this pattern, the Human Growth Hormone activates a lot more than usual, and the levels go up. That helps you lose those pounds and maintain muscles – you may even build new ones.
Furthermore, anyone with insulin resistance would benefit from this “diet.” It has shown that intermittent fasting helps those with high levels of insulin who cannot lose weight properly. Fasting makes the insulin drop, and it also improves individual’s sensitivity to it. If you pair this with a low carb diet, you could see significant improvement in insulin regulation.
Cellular repair is also one of the many advantages of intermittent fasting, as are gene changes. Some experts believe that this pattern of eating helps you live longer, and lead a healthier life. It is not a surprise that just weight loss alone is enough enable you rbody to function better, so anything more than that is a huge bonus.
Intermittent fasting owes its popularity to the dieting community. Once everyone realized that by fasting for 10+ hours during the day you could lose weight, its popularity grew.
However, it is not anything new. Many people actually fast without even knowing it. Both men and women can agree that sometimes they are not hungry in the morning, or they do not have time to take a lunch break at work, so they opt to skip a meal and wait it out until the next one. No one feels like they are hungry then, do they? Hunger pangs are usually in your head, rather than something that is actually going on in your body.
Weight loss is bound to happen if you maintain your fast correctly. Do not think that you can get away with a snack or two during the fast. This will momentarily trigger the insulin, destroying the benefits of any fast.
All is lost once you get your insulin levels up, so it is crucial not to snack on anything during the fasting period. If you pick the 16/8 method, you have eight hours to eat whatever you want, so you should use them wisely.
However, there is something to be said about the “eat whatever you want” part as well. Just because you will not consume calories for 16 hours, does not necessarily mean you gorge on sweets and fast food. It is important that you eat a balanced meal with adequate protein, fiber, and nutrients.
Other advantages of following intermittent fasting
Even though scientists are still trying to determine the reasons behind them, the benefits of intermittent fasting are undeniable.
Not only do you improve your insulin resistance status, but you can also lose weight and raise your energy levels substantially. Furthermore, some studies have shown that this type of eating pattern can reduces inflammation. Many already know that Inflammation markers lead to chronic disease such as arthritis and many other auto immune diseases.
Heart Health: There are also benefits to your heart health, LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and other slow killers are have shown improvement when you eat according to one of the intermittent fasting regimes.
Brain Health: Many studies have used rats for experiments with intermittent fasting, but more and more people are claiming that they are seeing and feeling very similar results. That is especially true when it comes to brain health. Individuals report that they feel as if they can concentrate better and they are not as confused as before.
Even though people understand that they can eat whatever they want, they still opt for a healthier diet while fasting. It might have something to do with the fact that intermittent fasting helps you feel great, both physically and mentally, or maybe it becomes a mindset that your brain just tells you, hey dummy what the hell are you fasting for if you are just going to eat a whopper and fries. Get something good for you an don’t waste your time.
Apart from the multiple benefits intermittent fasting has on your body and mind, there are other advantages as well.
When you go on a diet that requires you to eat at least three times or more per day, you may quit almost immediately. The reason is, that most people do not have the time to cook individual meals and clean up after them. Just imagine – you would have to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or more, every day without fail.
You would also have to make sure that everything you are eating is healthy, and convenient for your lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting allows you to eat when it is convenient for you – for example, eight hours. You can start eating at lunch and end at 8 at night, or you can start eating at dinner and have that midnight snack you love. That is right, with intermittent fasting, midnight snacks are perfectly ok, so long as it fits in your eating window.
Many people already skip breakfast due to lack of time or convenience. That doesn’t even consider that most of the foods that are designed to be convenient for breakfast are not designed to be very healthy, though they may promote themselves as such. Simply wait until lunch when the options are numerous.
This sort of eating is, in a way, a life hack. You are saving money because you are not buying breakfast food, and you are also losing weight at the same time. Not to mention all the time you are saving in the process.
Dieting is tough on anybody, especially if you have formed a habit of following crash diets.
Being healthy does not have to be a hassle, no matter how many pounds you have to lose. That is why intermittent fasting is a great way to increase your stamina, lose weight, and prolong your lifespan.
In the world of fad diets, this is a fad that is sticking around for the long haul. I don’t think it will be long until it is considered somewhat normal to follow some kind of fasting routine. Look, fasting is easy to follow, and it does not require you to learn how to cook or run 5 miles a day.
Still, if you decide to follow a fasting model, make sure you consult with your doctor first. In addition to that, remember that exercise cannot do you any harm and that it goes hand in hand with a healthy diet. Try it out for a few months and see how you feel – you might be in for a pleasant surprise.