Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Health, Fitness, and Wellness?
Intermittent fasting has become an increasingly popular way to improve health, fitness, and wellness. People around the world are taking advantage of the many benefits this type of fasting can offer. But should you try it? In this blog post, we will explore the potential pros and cons of intermittent fasting, and provide an overview of what it is, so you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the most popular eating practices and is filled with a variety of potential health benefits (improved cognitive function, weight loss, and extended lifespan to name a few).
The Many Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Most people try IF in order to lose weight without having to restrict calories. Some studies on IF have shown a reduction in markers of inflammation, which can lead to many chronic diseases. IF may reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance — all which can be risk factors for heart disease.
Renowned neuroscientist, Mark Mattson, has studied IF for decades and has concluded that over time, our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for hours and even days. Based on this research, IF could be a viable eating pattern for you in your healthy lifestyle journey.
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
|Every day will not go as planned. There will be office lunches, birthday parties, and girl’s night out. It is okay. Begin your IF journey knowing that it is not always going to be smooth or perfect. Take a breath and begin.
|Cut out breakfast…or at least what you think breakfast should be. The term breakfast traditionally meant break-fast, not necessarily wake up and eat. Consider more along the lines of brunch to lunch to begin your non-fasting periods.
|Strange but true, the body can confuse thirst with hunger. Create a water/hydration goal of one gallon per day. When “hunger” strikes, drink up!
|Create your meal plan for the week. Once you determine your IF method, strategize about your food and meal prep to ensure ease and success.
Let’s Deep Dive Quickly into the Common Types of IF Methods
- The 16:8 method: The most common type of IF allows you to eat during an eight-hour window, and then fast the rest of the time.
- The 5:2 method: You fast for two days of the week on this plan. But it’s not a total fast: On the fasting days, you limit your calorie intake to 500 to 600 per day. The other five days of the week, you eat normally.
- The “Eat-Stop-Eat” method: This one is like 5:2, except a person doesn’t eat at all for a 24-hour period once or twice during the week.
- Alternate-day fasting: This is one of the more restrictive forms of IF. Every other day, you eat 500 calories.
- The Warrior Diet: You basically fast during the day and have one big meal at night. This plan restricts processed foods and emphasizes fruits and vegetables. Think Paleo.
With IF, your food choices are very flexible (apart from the Warrior diet). During your fast, you are allowed water, coffee, and non-caloric beverages—but no solid food. Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to get the nutrients you need for everyday living. Foods with lean protein, fiber, and low-GI carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables should be incorporated into your menus and as always, drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Final Thoughts on Intermittent Fasting
Seemingly, IF is an effective way to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Bottom line, talk to your doctor before starting any health journey.