Unless you’ve been living in a bunker underground over the last decade, you’ve heard many health and fitness gurus and even a celebrity or two talk about the evolution of intermittent fasting.
But what is it?
To put it simply, it’s a lifestyle choice that involves methodical meal timing and periodic calorie deprivation—the “eating window” and “fasting window.” Notice how I used the word “lifestyle”? That’s right. Contrary to what you might think or have heard, intermittent fasting is not a fad or even a diet because intermittent fasting is not just a tool for weight loss. As a matter of fact, it has many benefits for the whole body.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
You can follow any diet while adhering to an intermittent fasting regimen, whether it’s a ketogenic, Paleo, or a carnivore diet.
Promotes a Healthy Gut:
The gut microbiome has its own circadian rhythm with thousands of bacteria working throughout the day. Each group cycles through and has a job to do while you are awake, sleeping or eating food. This microbiome circadian rhythm is meant to repeat itself every day, but it can be disrupted and confused if you are constantly eating. Periods of fasting help reset your gut microbiome’s natural circadian rhythm and kickstarts proper, healthy production.
Promotes Fat Loss:
Intermittent fasting has shown to promote fat loss by forcing the body to use up fat stores as fuel. The body’s primary source of energy is glucose. When the body is deprived of glucose, it will look for an alternative source—like stored fat cells.
Keeps the Heart Healthy:
Intermittent fasting lowers heart disease risk factors by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Reduces Insulin Resistance:
Intermittent fasting causes blood sugar and insulin to drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning and lowers the risk for type ll diabetes.
Protects the Brain:
Due to the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting and its effect on oxidative stress, neurological disorders like Alzheimers and other forms of cognitive decline tend to slow in progression when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Even better, studies on intermittent fasting have also shown to enhance cognitive function and protect against the effects aging has on the brain.
Variations of Intermittent Fasting
There are many different forms of intermittent fasting that are used all over the world. Each one follows a different pattern that is often strictly followed in order to achieve the desired physical results.
- 16 Hour/8 Hour Method: This method seems to be the easiest for beginners and involves eating specifically in an 8 hour window, then fasting for 16 hours. Many people choose to start this way by eating their last meal before 6:00pm and then eating again 16 hours later at 10:00am.
- Alternate Day Fasting: More experienced fasters might choose to alternate between days of eating and days of fasting, during which you do not consume any food or beverages except for calorie-free drinks, such as water, black coffee, and plain tea.
- 5 Days/2 Days Method: This method involves eating normally for 5 days of the week and then fasting or cutting back to 500-600 calories per day on the other 2 days.
- 6 Days/1 Day Method: Similar to the 5:2 approach, but you fast or cut back your calories on only one day per week.
- 24-Hour Fast: This protocol requires fasting (except for sipping on plain, calorie-free drinks) for two non-consecutive 24-hour windows twice per week.
Individuals who are underweight, struggling with weight gain and/or an eating disorder, pregnant or breastfeeding should not attempt an intermittent fasting diet. These individuals need sufficient calories on a daily basis for proper development.
Intermittent fasting isn’t just a weight loss tool. There are many benefits to this lifestyle. If you’d like to find out which variation is best for you and your body, Forum Health Clarkston can help. Our customized plans will help find the right fit for you. Would you like to learn more? Register for our next Meet and Greet!
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