To begin with let us first look into the term Intermittent Fasting, it comprises of two words “Intermittent” and “Fasting”. The dictionary meaning of “Intermittent” is – Fragmentary, Discontinuous or Occurring at regular intervals and “Fasting” is simply abstaining from all or some kind of food or drink. (Many religions practice fasting, common in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity).
Intermittent Fasting is not a “DIET” but a “DIET PATTERN”. Thus Intermittent Fasting is a structured pattern of eating within a restricted time frame of your choice and fasting for the rest of the time. i.e choosing not to eat during large portion of day and consuming all the required calories (as per your age and health) during a specific time period of your choice.
Ways to do Intermittent Fasting
Fast for 16 hours each day and have 1-2 small meals in 8 hour eating window, this trend is very popular among celebrities.
Example: if you finish your last meal at 8pm and then don’t eat until 12 noon the next day, technically you are fasting for 16 hours between meals. (sleeping hours are included in fasting hours).
Decide your window for eating, if it is difficult for you to skip breakfast then it would be hard for you in the beginning. You can drink water, herbal tea, green tea, tea and coffee with small amount of milk and sugar during your fast.
Fast for 2 days per week, i.e eating healthy food for 5 days a week while restricting calories to 500-600 on 2 days of week.
Eat – Stop – Eat
Do a 24 hour fast once or twice a week, Example: if you finish dinner at 8pm on Monday and don’t eat until dinner the next day at 8pm then you have done full 24 hours of fasting.
Alternate Day Fast
Eating every other day, either by not eating anything or restricting calories to few hundreds.
Fast during the day and feast (eat) during the night. It involves eating raw fruits and vegetables during the day and then having a good healthy meal at night within your eating window.
Skip meal when you feel convenient or full or not hungry
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Intermittent Fasting increases metabolism..more fat oxidation
- Lowers inflammation
- Improves over all health
- It preserves muscle mass because you can take food items rich in protein like eggs, chicken, fish etc
- No food cravings because following strict and restricted diets can never be sustained for long periods and in this case you can eat 1-2 small healthy meals with in your eating window
- When you fast human growth hormones level up which results in fat loss and muscle gain
- Insulin sensitivity is gradually improved
- Initiate cellular repair
- Studies suggest Fasting can change the expression of genes related to longevity and protection against disease
Intermittent Fasting is not Recommended for
- People already on Medication
- Having any chronic illness
- Blood sugar regulation issues
- Low Blood pressure
- Cardiovascular conditions
- If you are not eating balanced diet, not getting adequate sleep, chronic stress
- If you won’t feel well staying long periods without eating
- Personal or family history of disordered eating
- Kids are not allowed to fast
- Pregnant and Breast feeding mothers
It is not possible to binge on junk and unhealthy food during eating period and expect weight loss. Intermittent Fasting is all about deciding your own window for eating and fasting as per your convenience. You are not starving your body and there are no food restrictions, you can eat anything you want, though junk food, extra fried, deep fried food item is not advised, eating healthy protein rich and low carbohydrate clean diet is recommended.
You can have dairy products, meat, legumes during your eating window. You can also take supplements (mainly fat soluble vitamins), they may work better when taken with meals. Calorie intake play a major role and food quality matters. We have to focus on creating the calorie deficit to burn fat while fasting i.e Calories in Vs Calories out. The energy balance and nutritional composition of the food we eat is what determines the magic of INTERMITTENT DIET for weight loss.