Intermittent Fasting: Is it for you?
Many types of diets have come and gone, but the latest one that may people are trying—and are swearing by—is intermittent fasting or IF.
Experts are quick to explain though that IF is not much of a diet as it is an eating method, since the restriction is not much on the type of food you eat but when you eat it. IF involves an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating, usually involving at least 12 to 16 hours of fasting. In some cases, there are people who go without food for a whole day or 24 hours.
How does this type of eating habit work in helping you lose weight? It is said that when you go on a fast, your body makes changes in your hormone levels so that stored body fat can be made more accessible and thus burned more immediately and faster. Fasting also serves as a resting period for your body, where cells undergo vital repairing and restoring.
Additionally, insulin levels go down while growth hormone levels go up, thereby also increasing the presence of fat-burning hormones such as norepinephrine. Short-term fasting or IF has been found to increase your body’s metabolic rate by 3% to as much as 14%.
Overall reduced caloric intake is also key to weight loss on IF, as long as you don’t overcompensate by eating too much during allowable periods. Many of those who go on IF find that this is not the case anyway, as you may find it physically impossible to eat too much once that your body and stomach become accustomed to resting periods. You may find that you get full faster or become satisfied with reasonable amounts of food.
Scientists say that this is actually because IF is a more natural pattern of eating than the three meals a day that almost all of us have been used to. IF is reminiscent of the eating methods of our ancestors, wherein they would go without food for extended periods of time when they are unable to gather food through hunting or farming. It is only in modern times that food has been made ready and accessible around the clock for human consumption, which has arguably led to health issues of obesity.
If you feel that IF is something you would like to try, be sure to talk to a health professional about it. While it may seem simple enough to follow, you need to make sure that there are no attendant health risks related to your particular individual health situation.
There is no hard and fast rule with IF so you should see how you can integrate this new eating habit into your lifestyle. For instance, if you are one to not skip breakfast, you can schedule your daily fasting from 6 in the evening until 8 in the morning the next day, giving you at least 14 hours rest from eating. An alternative cycle could be having your last meal at 8 in the evening and going straight to lunch at 12 noon the following day, providing you 16 hours of fasting. It will depend on your level of comfort and the type of lifestyle you lead. You can also start with a 10- to 12-hour fast for a couple of days just to get your body accustomed to a new eating pattern.
If may not be the magic pill that will give you drastic weight loss, but its purported health benefits definitely make it worth a try.