What is Intermittent Fasting & Does it Work?

It may seem like a new, popular diet crops up every day . One of the most recent diets that has caught on like wildfire is intermittent fasting. Proponents of this diet trend say that it has helped them successfully lose weight, fat, and increase muscle – but how do you decide if intermittent fasting right for you?

What is intermittent fasting?

Unlike other diet strategies which focus on what you eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat. There are different patterns of intermittent fasting that people use. We’ve compiled some of the most popular types of intermittent fasting here for you:

Complete, Alternate Day Fasting:

As the name implies, people who following this pattern of fasting alternate days of no eating or drinking (water and other zero calorie beverages are considered to be fine), with days in which they eat and drink normally.

Modified Fasting:

Another popular form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet, which involves fasting for 2 days (not in a row) every week and normal eating during the remaining five days. On fast days, many people consume only 20-25% of their daily calories.

Time-Restricted Feeding:

Another form of fasting involves restricting eating to a certain number of hours per day. Some people who follow this pattern of fasting choose to only eat and drink during an eight-hour window per day (for example: fasting in the morning, and eating all your meals between noon and 8pm)

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting has a long history of clinical use, having been used in the 1900s for diabetes and epilepsy. However, intermittent fasting for diabetics can be very dangerous as maintaining blood sugar levels with infrequent eating can be quite difficult and possibly even fatal. Today, intermittent fasting is applied primarily for weight loss. Other benefits touted by supporters of intermittent fasting include faster fat loss, muscle gain, and higher energy levels throughout the day.

How effective is intermittent fasting?

Answering this question is tricky, because most of the research on intermittent fasting has been done on animals, rather than humans. However, human research does show that almost any type of intermittent fasting can help with weight loss. Studies have found that people who practice intermittent fasting experienced weight loss ranging from 1.3% after 2 weeks to 8% over the course of 8 weeks. It has also been found that alternate day fasting may help manage glucose and insulin levels. However, there is conflicting research as to whether alternate day fasting leads to greater weight loss than diet plans that restrict calories on a continuous basis.

Is intermittent fasting safe?

As with any diet plan, check with your dietitian or physician before starting. That being said, there is very little evidence that reasonable intermittent fasting is harmful physically or mentally for healthy, normal weight, overweight, or obese adults.

Is intermittent fasting right for me?

It’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon of a new diet plan, especially when so many people swear by it. However, as with any diet plan, certain people will see better results than others, and some folks will have more difficulty following it than others. For intermittent fasting, there are certain types of people who are more likely to benefit. If you are the type of person who gives up completely if you overindulge, intermittent fasting may be a good option. Instead of focusing on what you’re allowed to eat, you only focus on maintaining a fasting schedule.

For some of us, hunger is the nagging voice in our head we just can’t seem to shake. Sound familiar? If so, intermittent fasting may be a good option as restricted eating leads to less frequent release of hunger hormones. Some other people who may benefit are those interested in anti-aging (intermittent fasting increases release of human growth hormone which encourages tissue repair), those who are prediabetic (may increase insulin sensitivity), and those experiencing a weight loss plateau (fasting may help boost your metabolism).

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