Everything You Need to Know About Fasting
Intermittent fasting is healthy: fact or fad?
Even if it seems like a new trend around health enthusiasts and it was the most searched keyword for weight loss in 2019, this is a practice used for ancient civilizations over centuries.
The forgotten ancient practice has become so popular out of sudden. According to Katelyn Sottosanti, nutritionist at OnPoint Nutrition, intermittent fasting (IF) doesn’t require many changes in food habits, besides eating window. It also gives people the feeling of being in control of their food, mainly because it doesn’t require much effort if you compare with changes one has to do when going on a strict diet.
If done correctly - and as you will see, it’s pretty straight forward and easy to do - IF has several health benefits, such as weight loss, improve the immune system, lower blood pressure, just to name a few.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
In IF, one might choose between the various windows of time between eating and fasting. It can be from a few hours up to a few days. In fact, we all do some type of fasting every day, and that’s while we’re sleeping.
No food is allowed during the fasting period besides coffee and/or tea without sugar, water or any other non-caloric beverage.
The science behind intermittent fasting
Several studies have been conducted around fasting and many benefits have been proved. For instance, when you don’t eat for a while, the body has more time to focus on other processes like cellular regeneration and repair, it burns the stored body fat due to the calorie restriction, resulting in weight loss, it helps fight inflammation and so many more.
Traditional Diet Vs. Intermittent Fasting
IF is an efficient way of eating, rather than food restriction. In other words, it’s not a diet. It allows you to eat what you feel like, and if you choose to eat nutritious food, the benefits will increase.
Many people resort to unhealthy diets, with strict calorie intake which narrows the amount of macro and micronutrients consumed. Failing to meet daily minimum nutritional requirements can result in some disorders and diseases.
If recommended by a nutritionist or dietitian and if followed properly, a healthy diet, however, can bring several benefits to your health.
It all boils down to your goals, have a clear intention behind choosing whether to do a diet or fasting and ultimately, how you want to feel.
There are 6 most popular ways of fasting.
1. The 12/12 method
The easiest way of fasting and also recommended for beginners because of the short window which can be done during your sleep. For instance, if you finish your dinner at 8 pm, you can eat again at 8 am.
2. The 16/8 method
That’s when you eat in an 8-hour window and fast for 16 hours. Within this 8-hour period, you might fit in 2 or even 3 meals.
For example, if you had your last meal at 8 pm, skip breakfast, and have your first meal around noon on the next day you are then fasting for 16 hours.
Bare in mind that you should look for healthier choices when doing IF, especially if you aim to lose weight. Eating high caloric, sugary or fatty food while fasting won’t help.
3. The 5:2 Method
This method includes eating healthy meals for 5 days a week and it restricts calory intake or goes on a complete fast for 2 days.
Typically during the fasting days, men consume 600 calories and women 500 calories.
To apply this method, you can spread the 2 fasting days throughout the week or do it on 2 days in a role. If you decide to separate the fasting days, you may, for example, fast on Tuesday then again on Friday. If you’d like to do it all together, I recommend doing it on the weekend.
To any longer method mentioned here, always check with your health care provider to ensure you’re not at any risk.
4. The 24 hour Method
Also known as Eat-Stop-Eat diet, people on this diet won’t eat for 24 hours. They might fast from dinner to dinner or breakfast to breakfast.
24-hour fasting might have some unpleasant effects such as headache, fatigue and mood changing. To avoid such symptoms, one can start with 12 or 16-hour fasting methods, so that the body can slowly adapt to this new way of eating.
5. Juice Fasting
Also called juice cleanse, it’s a type of detox diet that might last a short period of time, such as one to three days. This method includes only drinking juices, coffee, tea and plenty of water.
There are several methods of juice fasting and some may include smoothies, others just juices but the components of the cleanse must be raw fruits and vegetables.
The main benefits of juice fasting are removing toxins from the body, improve digestion and weight loss.
6. Water Fasting
Considered the most extreme method of fasting, water fasting restricts food intake and only allows water and tea.
For being strict, it’s not recommended to everyone, in spite of the several health benefits, this kind of fasting involves some risks.
If you’d like to give it a try, it’s important to prepare your body first, like skipping some meals, do intermittent fasting and eating smaller portions.
The bottom line: Everything depends on your goals and commitment. If you just want to give a break to your digestive system, release some toxins from the body, you can simply try IF for a few days and see how it feels like. Moreover, if you’d like to take a step further, 24-hour water fasting or one-day juice fasting will help you to reset.