Intermittent fasting – sometimes referred to as intermittent energy restriction (IER) – is one of the most popular diet systems in the world right now. Even though there are many variations of intermittent fasting currently doing the rounds, this diet system itself is known to be quite effective. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about intermittent fasting (IF).
What is intermittent fasting?
IF is a cycle of fasting and feeding, which involves time-restricted eating during certain times of the day or days of the week (depending on the type of IF you’re on). This system restricts calorie intake, thereby generating a hormetic or good type of stress to which the body commonly responds to by improving metabolic and cellular performance. If you are obese or overweight, the IF diet can help you shed weight by naturally flushing out damaged and harmful cells.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Quite like a low-carb diet, IF forces your body to break down stored fats for energy by increasing the gap between meals. Depending on how long your fasting period is and what you consume during the eating period, your body will start burning stored fat reserves and improve insulin sensitivity, among other benefits.
Can intermittent fasting really benefit me?
A study published in Current Obesity Reports in 2018 reveals that IF can help in weight loss, improve metabolic biomarkers, cognition, digestion, may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and can delay ageing too. The study also points out that these benefits may vary according to the type of IF you’re following, your age and the duration of the diet.
It’s best to consult an expert before you begin any diet though, just to make sure it is suitable for you.
What are the types of intermittent fasting?
There are three main types of IF:
- Time-restricted eating: This IF model breaks the 24 hour day into fixed periods of fasting and eating. The most popular types of time-restricted eating include 16:8, 12:12 and 20:4.
- Alternate-day fasting: Instead of meaning that you eat every alternate day, this IF model suggests you eat normally one day and restrict your calories to around 500 on the next. Another type of alternate-day fasting is the 5:2 method, where you eat normally for five days and fast or restrict calories for two days of the week.
- Longer fasts: This model is for people who are used to the IF diet and want to challenge themselves to fast for 24 hours or more. This type of IF is not recommended by most experts because it can deprive you of nutrients for too long to be of any benefit.
This article is the first part of a series on Intermittent Fasting.
For more information, read our article on How to lose weight fast and safely.
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