The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is another trend that has been gaining more traction in recent years. It’s no good to starve yourself constantly, but taking on schedules of intermittent fasting offers many health benefits. By intermittent fasting you take on a steady eating pattern where you take on a regular cycle between your daily periods of eating and fasting. 

This diet plan isn’t so much focused on what you eat but when. For two non-consecutive “fast” days each week, intermittent fasters abstain from eating except for one small meal of just 400 to 500 calories for women and 500 to 600 calories for men. For the remaining five “feed” days, you can eat whatever you want.

Research shows intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss, with one study showing alternate-day dieters can lose an average of 10 to 30 pounds in about eight weeks. Other studies found this type of diet, along with regular exercise, may be beneficial for lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels and blood pressure. However, abstaining from food can be difficult for obvious reasons and some people may be better suited for this type of diet than others.

“I may recommend intermittent fasting as a strategy for weight loss patients who are focused, determined, and motivated in improving their health goals,” Nancy Z. Farrell, a registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told CBS news.

Hogan also worries that this style of eating could lead some to disordered eating habits. “Some people swear by intermittent fasting and it works for them and that’s great. I would never tell them to stop, but it’s not something I would ever outright recommend to a patient because it’s promoting a weird relationship with food where you’re not allowed to eat at certain times and have to eat during others and that’s not a road I would ever want anyone to go down,” she said.

glass of refreshing drink on table
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Types of Intermittent Fasting

Different types of intermittent fasting are labeled based on the hour windows. This way you allow yourself to eat or the days you restrict your diet the most. The two most common types of intermittent fasting are 16/8 and 5:2. Intermittent fasting defined as follows:

  • The practice of 16/8 intermittent fasting involves limiting your calorie intake to a set window of 8 hours per day. You abstain from food for 16 hours, allowed to drink water and no-calorie beverages, like plain coffee or tea.
  • The 5:2 diet, also known as The Fast Diet, is currently the most popular intermittent fasting diet. It’s a 5:2 diet with five days of of normal eating and two restricted to 500–600 calories per day.

These provide various health benefits ranging from weight loss to disease prevention and more. Most commonly, by reducing your meals throughout the day, over time weight loss comes to you much easier. Fasting offers great treatment through things like dropped insulin levels. This helps burn fat and increases the human growth hormone for muscle gain and cellular repair. Even more, these enhanced hormone levels increase energy to help you continue with improved metabolism.

Additionally, other improvements help to battle diseases and reduce issues like oxidative stress, inflammation, blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance. All these troubles lead to long-term diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, some cancers, and many other degenerative conditions. With all of this together, you can lose weight and improve your overall long-term health with intermittent fasting.