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Home / Healthy Eating

Intermittent fasting: Everything you need to know

 Intermittent fasting allows your body to use up stored energy (Image: Shutterstock)

Providing significant health benefits including weight loss if done right, intermittent fasting has been on the rise and there are several good reasons why.

Intermittent fasting is not a diet per se, it is more of an eating pattern where you schedule an eating window and a fasting window where you don’t eat anything.

It has nothing to do with starving your body but rather self-control. It should cause no suffering if done the proper way because it is a voluntary avoidance of food.

You don’t do this because there is no food. But rather for health reasons, for spiritual purposes or weight loss.

And here is another thing, it doesn’t change what you eat but when you eat. To understand this more here are certain things you need to know about this type of fasting:

How does it work?

Usually, when we eat, there is excess food energy produced in the body than what is needed for immediate use. Your body then releases insulin to store excess energy by breaking down carbohydrates into glucose units forming glycogen which is then stored in the liver and muscles.

In the state where you are not eating, insulin levels drop and we burn the stored energy beginning with glycogen which can power up the body for up to 36 hours before your body can start accessing the more difficult body fat.

When we eat, we are basically storing food energy.

To allow the body to use up the stored energy, we fast creating the balance.

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Therefore, by intermittent fasting, we have a wider window where we allow our bodies to burn the stored food energy.

 Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat but rather when you eat (Image: Shutterstock)

Types of intermittent fasting

  • 16:8 method

Also known as the Leangains diet, it involves fasting for 16 hours followed by an 8-hour eating window.

  • 12-hour fast

For a 12-hour window, you should adhere to no eating every day. Considering the little fasting window, it is a smart idea to include your sleeping hours during the fasting period.

  • Eat stop eat diet

You are required to fast completely for 24 hours or two days in a week then resume your normal eating patterns. During the fasting period you can have some water and tea.

  • Meal skipping

Great for beginners, you only eat when completely hungry. If not hungry, you skip the meal. It is advisable to only eat healthy foods during this period.

  • Alternate day fasting

As the name states, it involves fasting every other day. It may exclude solid foods or allow a certain number of calories during the fast window then eating as much as you choose on feeding days.

What to eat

Well, you may choose to strictly keep it healthy and incorporate diets such as vegetarian, paleo, low carb etc. but it is not cast on stone.

This is a flexible diet that allows you to eat what you choose. Again, it is not about what you eat but rather when you eat.

Benefits

  • According to studies, intermittent fasting boosts memory.
  • It improves heart health and lowers the risk of cardiovascular related diseases.
  • It can lead to weight loss.
  • It may reduce the risk of cancer.
  • It is much easier to follow and stick to compared to most diets thus impactful.

Possible side effects

Depending on your body, there are a number of side-effects you may encounter. Some of these include headaches, dizziness, heart burn, constipation and feeling weak. If it gets really bad, you can break with some breakfast or a healthy serving of fruits.

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