Intermittent Fasting! We’re hearing about it everywhere lately, from Instagram, to YouTube, Facebook, Google, and let’s not forget about fitness bloggers and influencers. But what is it exactly, why has it become such a popular health and fitness trend, and how does it help you build muscle, lose weight, and benefit your overall dietary lifestyle?
If you think about it, humans have been fasting for a long time, be it for religious or spiritual reasons. Only recently though have people started rediscovering the benefits of intermittent fasting, which has gained popularity among the fitness and nutrition industry.A
What is intermittent fasting and how should you do it?
Intermittent fasting is not the same as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims around the world refrain from eating and drinking anything for 11-16 hours a day.
In this case, intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you basically set a schedule of when you can eat your meals during the day. There are several effective approaches to intermittent fasting and the choice usually boils down to your preference. In terms of scheduling when to eat, you can choose from the 16/8 method or the 14/10 method. This means that you fast for either 16 or 14 hours during the day and eat food normally in the left-over time span.
If your goal is to lose weight with intermittent fasting, you can restrict your regular caloric consumption to 500 calories once or twice a week and then go back to your regular healthy diet for the rest of the week. At the end of the day, intermittent fasting is not a diet but rather something that you can adapt into your daily life.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
The most obvious benefit of intermittent fasting – and the reason behind its popularity – is weight loss. Other countless benefits range from heart health, hormonal changes, and preventing a number of diseases. Intermittent fasting can actually decrease blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, by reducing insulin resistance, which is a prime feature of the disease. It also reduces oxidative stress, a chemical imbalance in your body that causes memory loss, fatigue, decreased eye sight, migraines, muscle or joint pain, and speeds up aging and chronic diseases.
Everyday tips and tricks - you can still have your coffee!
Fasting can be quite challenging if you’ve never tried it before. If you wish to adapt it into your lifestyle, you can start by fasting for eight hours a day and then gradually increase it over time. This will help ease your way into a longer fast.
Need your regular dose of coffee in the morning? Don’t worry, you can still drink coffee when you’re in a fasted state. Just make sure it’s black. And in case you didn’t know, you can also include green tea when you’re fasting. This powerful hot drink helps increase your metabolism, improve brain function, and enhances fat burning when you’re working out or when you’re at rest.
We all know how important it is to stay hydrated, so always make sure to drink enough water throughout the day, particularly during the times where you’re fasting and not eating. When you do break your fast, make sure you include an adequate amount of protein in your diet that includes chicken, beef, lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa to name a few, as they will help keep you full for longer.
Before you try!
If you’re thinking of giving intermittent fasting a try, make sure you’re not underweight, breastfeeding or pregnant, and you should be over 18 years old. As a rule of thumb, it is always a must to consult with a medical expert for any type of diet that fits your dietary needs.
Finally, if for any reason you decide to take a break from fasting on any given day, just make sure you avoid any refined sugars, unhealthy, processed, or high calorie meals that could throw you off your diet and undo all the benefits.
So, should you skip breakfast?
You’ve been told your whole life that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But you’ve never been told that it is actually optional. If you wake up feeling hungry in the morning, then by all means have a healthy breakfast. But if you’re not hungry in the morning, then simply don’t eat. At the end of the day, it all boils down to your preference. And from there, you can start counting down your eating window.
So, if you’re a big-time breakfast person and you usually break your fast at 8:00 a.m. every morning, then make sure you stop eating by 4:00 p.m. everyday. If you’re not a fan of breakfast and you usually break your fast by around noon each day, then you should make sure you stop eating by 8:00 p.m. so that you can fast until the next day.
Once you figure out the pattern of eating and meal timing plan that fits you and your body best, you’ll be able to witness the benefits of intermittent fasting.