This guide is great for people who want to know everything there is to know about Intermittent Fasting. If you are a beginner, or even if you already are accustomed to Intermittent Fasting it is a great place to start. Fasting isn’t something unusual. Human beings have been fasting for a substantial part of history due to food scarcity or religious/spiritual reasons. Now people fast a lot less than before, and this is quite reasonable with all the food we have access to.
Intermittent Fasting, on the other hand, is quite unique. It is a new and unconventional way of planning your meals. Research has shown several benefits concerning our health and longevity when you Intermittent Fast. It has shown that it, when done correctly, regulates our body weight, increases life, improves blood glucose, and a lot more.
Usually, we are customary to eating three meals a day, and maybe even eat snacks in-between those meals. But Intermittent Fasting is different. With Intermittent Fasting, you are consciously deciding to skip certain meals. This can be done one day a week, but it can also mean that you skip breakfast every day and that lunch will be your first meal of the day. There are several ways to do it, but this really depends on your goals.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The meaning of Intermittent Fasting is that you deprive yourself of food at certain points of the day. You will only eat between certain hours, the so-called ‘Time Windows’. You will choose these time windows by what suits you best throughout your day.
For example, if you choose to eat from 12:00 PM to 08:00 PM, then that will be your time window.
You’ll make sure that you consume all your calories between those hours and nothing outside of them. How many meals you eat is also up to you.
You can choose to divide all your food between 5 or 6 meals, but you can also choose to eat 1 or 2 meals.
Regardless, the main concept is: consuming all your calories between certain hours (your time window).
So, Intermittent Fasting is not a diet, it is just a different way of consuming your calories. It has nothing to do with what you eat but is about when you eat. Of course, you need to eat healthy foods and make sure that you don’t overeat in the first place in order to be healthy, but Intermittent Fasting itself provides great benefits.
Intermittent Fasting is not a diet, it is just a different way of consuming your calories.
Intermittent Fasting Research
Several studies have shown the health benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
One study done on rats found that fasting increased the lifespan of the rats by 10 to 20%, compared to rats that didn’t fast. Another study showed that Intermittent Fasting extends the lifespan and that it increased resistance to several age-related diseases. It also showed that it significantly improves the health of overweight humans. It even suggested that the benefits are similar to the effects of restricting calories.
The Science Behind Intermittent
Fasting Your body reacts differently when you eat compared to when you fast. When you eat, your body will digest everything within several hours. The meal will be burned off, being used as fuel for the body, and the rest will be stored as body fat. But with Intermittent Fasting, things are different. When you fast your body will use the already stored body fat as fuel as opposed to the meals you eat. This is because your body will always use the easier way out, and if there isn’t any food available, it will turn to the fat stores for energy.
Intermittent Fasting And Weight Loss
One of the common mistakes people make when they start implementing Intermittent Fasting is that they think that they can eat as much food as they want. However, this is wrong! Again, the main idea behind Intermittent Fasting is: consuming all your calories between certain hours (your time window). This doesn’t mean that you will eat more (or less) than you normally eat. It simply means that you will eat all of your meals within certain hours and that you won’t eat anything outside those hours.
See the video below for more information on Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Although people commonly believe that depriving yourself of food for too long is unhealthy for you, scientists have proven that Intermittent Fasting provides many benefits. Intermittent fasting can have many benefits for your body and brain. It can cause weight loss and may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It may also help you live longer.
- Reduces sugar cravings
- Raises insulin sensitivity
- Reduces belly fat
- Limits inflammation
- Reduces blood pressure
- Improves pancreatic function
- Protects against cardiovascular disease
- Initiates important cellular repair processes
- Reduces total cholesterol and LDL
Want to do a deep dive here? See a comprehensive list of intermittent fasting benefits here.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are several different ways of doing intermittent fasting — all of which involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all.
These are the most popular methods:
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this methods, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.
Many people find the 16/8 method to be the simplest, most sustainable, and easiest to stick to. It’s also the most popular.
Who Should Be Careful Or Avoid Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone.
- If you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you should not fast without consulting with a health professional first.
- Women should be careful with intermittent fasting. For example, one study showed that it improved insulin sensitivity in men, but worsened blood sugar control in women (Source). There are a number of anecdotal reports of women whose menstrual period stopped when they started doing IF and went back to normal when they resumed their previous eating pattern. See more about the difference in intermittent fasting for women here.
- They should follow separate guidelines, like easing into the practice and stopping immediately if they have any problems like amenorrhea (absence of menstruation).
- If you have issues with fertility and/or are trying to conceive, consider holding off on intermittent fasting for now. This eating pattern is likely also a bad idea if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting
Chances are that you’ve already done many intermittent fasts in your life. Many people consider the 16/8 method the simplest and most sustainable way of intermittent fasting — you might want to try this practice first.
If you’ve ever eaten dinner, then slept late, and not eaten until lunch the next day, then you’ve probably already fasted for 16+ hours.
Another approach is to simply fast whenever it’s convenient — simply skip meals from time to time when you’re not hungry or don’t have time to cook.
There is no need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to derive at least some of the benefits. Experiment with the different approaches and find something that you enjoy and fits your schedule.
Intermittent Fasting Results
Curious about the results of intermittent fasting? Fortunately, there are many Healthy Huemans showcasing their journey on social media and other content sites. Check out a few of our favorite intermittent fasting results videos here.