Have you tried all possible ways to lose weight and still struggling to find that one effective pill?
Are you too confused between the various weight loss programs and diet plans?
It is time to know about Intermittent fasting (IMF).
Intermittent fasting is not something new. Our ancestors had been following it either as a religious ritual or when there was a scarcity of food. In the olden days, people used to have their meal before sunset, all credits to lack of electricity in those days. As a result, the next meal was always at sunrise which is a perfect example for Intermittent fasting. That is the reason why it is most often referred to as a lifestyle choice rather than a diet.
What is Intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is eating for a specific period of time and fasting for the rest of the time. During the period you are eating there is no particular restriction on the food you are eating. While you are fasting, water, coffee, or tea is allowed. This is what makes the plan work for many. It is more of a lifestyle choice than a diet plan.
People following it have experienced weight loss. This type of fasting has been recommended by experts not only for weight loss but also for the magnificent health benefits that come along with it. It is also believed to improve your metabolism.
Intermittent Fasting schedules
Is there any Intermittent fasting schedules which work best for weight loss?
Due to its popularity, there are many methods or schedules which can be followed.
All are said to be effective but the choice of the right schedule depends on individual needs and choice.
Here is a list of popularly followed schedules.
- This diet involves following the 14-16 hrs of fasting every day and restricting your eating schedule to 8-10 hrs. The general standard is 16 hours for men and 14-15 hrs for women who seem to get better results with shorter fasts.
- You can try to fit 2-3 meals during the eating window.
- Drinking water, coffee, tea or any non-alcoholic beverages are permitted and helps you reduce hunger pangs.
- Eating junk food or any other food with excessive calories is a big ‘NO’.
This diet schedule may be easier to follow for those who skip their morning breakfast when compared to those who prefer early breakfast.
- This diet schedule involves fasting for only two days a week while following a normal diet during the remaining five days.
- During these two days, the calorie intake should be around 500-600 calories. The usual standard for calories intake for men is 500 calories and for women 600 calories.
This diet plan was popularized by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley.
- As the name suggests this diet requires a person to fast every alternate day.
- A person can choose between not eating anything to eating only a few hundred calories of healthy food. The calorie intake during the fasting days is restricted to 500 calories.
- This diet is usually not recommended because it requires you to go to bed without food every alternate day. This schedule is not a recommended solution for long term plans as the full fasting or going without food very often is rather extreme and unpleasant.
Eat-stop-Eat - 24 hour fast once/twice a week
- This diet schedule requires a person to fast once or twice a week.
- You can follow either breakfast to breakfast / lunch-lunch /dinner-dinner fasting. All that you need to take care of is having a 24-hour fasting window.
- Intake of solid food is restricted during the fast however water, coffee, tea or non-alcoholic beverages are allowed.
- It is very important that you eat normally during your eating period and avoid the intake of more calories than your normal intake.
This is a popular method which is followed by many. It was popularised by fitness expert Bard Pilon.
- This diet schedule emphasises on eating one huge meal in the night. Now you may be wondering what about the food during the day? The catch here is during the day it is recommended to eat healthy unprocessed food.
- The food Choices being eating small quantities of raw fruits and vegetables.
- The goal is here fast with a very small quantity of food during the day and eat a huge meal at night maintaining a 4-hour eating window.
It is one of the most popular methods which is followed.
- This diet schedule does not follow any fixed plan. The idea here is to skip meals when you are not hungry.
- It is important that you eat a healthy meal at other times.
This is one of the most natural ways of Intermittent fasting.
Which is the best diet schedule?
It is very hard to say which is the best schedule. It is an individual choice and depends on adherence to the diet schedule.
When it comes to weight loss, alternate day fasting takes the cake with rapid success. When we look at sustaining weight loss for the long term, the less rigid 5:2 schedule wins as it is easy to follow.
Research suggests that Intermittent fasting in no way scores more than traditional fasting methods. However, it has been observed that following the 16/8 or 5:2 method has some health benefits.We will discuss the benefits in the next section.
What are the benefits of Intermittent fasting?
Numerous studies have shown that intermittent fasting can have a positive impact on your health.
As discussed before weight loss depends on adherence to the diet schedule. In addition to this calorie intake is another factor to watch out for since the diet doesn’t have any specific restriction on the food you eat.
So when the plan is followed with a mix of right calorie intake it leads to weight loss.
However, it is believed that Intermittent fasting reduces Insulin levels. The decrease in the insulin level causes the cells to release the glucose stores as energy which leads to weight loss.
Reduces Risk of heart diseases
Studies have found improvement in cardiovascular health as a result of Intermittent fasting. Research conducted on Intermittent fasting has shown a reduction in heart rate, triglycerides and cholesterol thereby reducing the risk of heart diseases.
Lowers the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
One of the major risk factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes is obesity. Research has shown Intermittent fasting can reduce blood glucose and insulin levels thereby reducing the risk of diabetes.
However further research may be required to confirm whether there is an increase /decrease in risk of developing diabetes. Recent research done on rats was published in the Journal Endocrine Abstracts which suggested an increase in the risk of diabetes based on the results of intermittent fasting in them over a 3-month period. There is no research to prove the effect on humans.
Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Some of the studies suggest a reduced risk of developing cancer due to the weight loss aspect of intermittent fasting.It is also believed to decrease biological factors such as insulin levels and inflammation which have links to cancer. However further research is necessary to support it.
Are there certain medical conditions where intermittent fasting should be avoided?
People who are brittle diabetic, those with a history of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia and pregnant or breastfeeding women should not attempt fasting unless under they are under close supervision of a doctor.
Research done on the health benefits of Intermittent fasting does not have any conclusive evidence.More research is needed to translate the findings from animal studies to humans.
Though there is not much evidence on health benefits, studies have shown it definitely aids weight loss when there is strict adherence to a particular diet plan.
To conclude Intermittent fasting is as effective as a traditional diet where we reduce the intake of calories.