AT A GLANCE

What is Intermittent Fasting and how does it differ from a normal diet? In this article, we’ll provide you with an analysis of what it is, health benefits of following the strategy and a few techniques to help you develop a coordinated fasting plan for your health goals.


What is Intermittent Fasting?

The term, ‘intermittent fasting’, refers to an eating pattern where one drastically changes their consumption throughout a set schedule. To simplify this, intermittent fasting is the practice of changing your eating patterns by refraining from eating for an extended period of time. Unlike dieting, intermittent fasting does not involve changing what you eat instead, it involves changing when you eat. For example, if you refrain from consuming anything between the hours of 1 pm and 7 pm, you are technically fasting for a period of six hours even if you’re not aware of it.  There are other ways to fast such as skipping a scheduled meal. This can come in the form of an afternoon snack or a late dinner. The important thing to note is that a fasting diet focuses on the timing and reduction of consumption.

In order to understand fasting, it’s vital that we discuss the motives behind this consumption lifestyle. For most people, fasting is a way of losing or managing their weight. While some focus on calorie restriction, others lean towards a practice that they can adhere to. Dr. Vicki Catenacci, a nutrition researcher from the University of Colorado, states that calorie restriction may not work for everyone, as it involves taking on a disciplinary lifestyle where you have to count your calories and modify your diet. This may explain why fasting seems as an easier alternative.  

The important thing to note is that everyone has a different motive for fasting. Whether it’d be because they want to manage their weight or address heart concerns, fasting is a disciplinary practice of managing your body and improving your health. 

Intermittent fasting does not involve changing what you eat instead; it involves changing when you eat

Whether it'd be because they want to manage their weight or address heart concerns, fasting is a disciplinary practice of managing your body and improving your health.
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What are some Intermittent Fasting Methods?

An intermittent fasting method comes in many forms. As stated earlier, there are several ways to fast or avoid scheduled meals for a period of time. The key to fasting is to select a method that will be easier for you to commit to and will help address your health needs. Below are some popular intermittent fasting techniques that you can focus on for your routine.

  • Twice a week 5:2 method: This strategy requires that you restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories for two days, while eating normally for the rest of the week. 
  • 16/8 method: Considered one of the most popular fasting techniques, the 16/8 method requires you that you commit to fasting for 16 hours of the day while eating only 8 hours of the day. For example, if you decide to skip breakfast you would only eat sometime between noon and 8 pm. 
  • 24 hour stop and eat method: Under this method, you would refrain from eating for a period of 24 hours while returning to your normal eating habits for the rest of the week. Often times, this is only done once a week. However, you can increase this to two days a week if you feel that your body can handle it.
  • Alternate Day Fasting: If you follow this strategy, you would fast every other day while resuming your regular diet on non-fasting days. You can also develop your own approach under this method. For example, instead of fasting for an entire day, you can drastically cut back on you calorie intake while resuming your regular consumption patterns on non-fasting days.

As you can see, there are several fasting techniques to choose from. By reducing your calorie intake through a fasting technique, you can properly manage your health while reducing your consumption.  However, you must remain mindful of your decision-making and develop a coordinated routine that won’t raise health concerns in the long-run. If you’re planning to fast, we suggest that you talk to a nutritionist and become familiar with the health implications of intermittent fasting.

The key to fasting is to select a method that will be easier for you to commit to and will help you address your health needs.

By reducing your calorie intake through a fasting technique, you can properly manage your health while reducing your consumption.
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What are the health benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting carries a variety of health benefits that could potentially help your body and your brain in the long run. Many of the supposed benefits have been analyzed and studied through academic and credited research studies that focus on the implications of intermittent fasting on areas such as weight management, heart health, and cellular process.

The following list represents research-based benefits of intermittent fasting.

  • Weight Loss: Intermittent Fasting can enhance weight loss by increasing your metabolic rate and reducing your calorie intake.
  • Cellular Repair Process: Short-term fasting has been known to help in the removal of waste from cells and increase fat burning through significant drops of blood levels in insulin.
  • Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes: Fasting has been shown to help reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels which ultimately, help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Improves heart health: Intermittent Fasting has been shown to improve numerous health-related heart disease factors such as blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and inflammatory markers. 
  • Prevention of Cancer: Though future research is needed, fasting has been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer because of its impact on the body’s metabolic rate.

It’s important to note that these health benefits must be perceived with caution if you decide to go on a fasting routine. Several researchers have focused on rats as subjects as opposed to humans. As a result, not every health benefit directly correlates to human subjects. The key here is to be mindful of the health claims surrounding intermittent fasting and make healthy choices.

The key to fasting is to select a method that will be easier for you to commit to and will help you address your health needs.
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Intermittent Fasting carries a variety of health benefits that could potentially help your body and your brain in the long run.

Is Intermittent Fasting right for me?

Whether or not intermittent fasting is right for you depends on your lifestyle and health objectives. As mentioned earlier, those who engage in fasting must evaluate their motives and develop a coordinated plan to address their fitness and health needs. In addition, those with certain health conditions should consider an alternative plan. 

In short, you should avoid fasting or consult with your doctor if you are underweight, have a history of eating disorders, have diabetes, or are currently taking any medications. If any of these apply to you, then intermittent fasting may not be the best option. If however, you seem to be struggling with losing weight or simply want to modify your diet to meet your nutritional needs, then a fasting routine might just give you the added boost you need to achieve your health goals.

Take Home Points
  • Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting for health-related purposes.
  • People fast for a variety of reasons such as weight management and calorie reduction.
  • There are several intermittent fasting techniques to select from such as the twice-a-week method and the alternate day method.
  • Intermittent Fasting can help reduce cancer, improves your heart health, and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Those who have a history of being underweight or have an eating disorder should refrain from intermittent fasting.

Articles References

To Fast or Not to Fast. (2019, December). Retrieved from
https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2019/12/fast-or-not-fast.
Intermittent Fasting: 4 Different Types Explained. (2019, April 30th). Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/intermittent-fasting-4-different-types-explained/
Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. (2020, February 20th). Retrieved from https://www.crossfit.com/essentials/effects-of-intermittent-fasting-on-health-aging-and-disease