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Intermittent Fasting

Guide to Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has been having a shining moment in the wellness industry for some time now — from being a popular complement to the keto diet to being used as a way to help easily cut calories and support weight loss efforts, it’s something that’s become an increasingly popular habit.

In this article, we’re sharing what it is, what the benefits are, and some of the different intermittent fasting methods you may want to consider if you are just getting started.

What is Intermittent Fasting?
It’s important to note that intermittent fasting isn’t a diet — it’s a fasting period that many use by extending the natural evening fasted period by eating the first meal of the day closer to lunchtime instead of first thing in the morning.

In other words, intermittent fasting, or IF, is when you cycle between set periods where you eat and periods where you fast. And, while it doesn’t have anything to do with the foods that you do consume, it does guide you as to when you should be eating.

There are a handful of ways to practice intermittent fasting, which we will cover in more detail below.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits
So, what’s the big deal about intermittent fasting anyway? Fasting has been used for centuries, whether for health purposes or for religious and spiritual beliefs, and intermittent fasting comes with its own set of benefits.

Here are a few benefits of IF:

May Help Support Weight Loss

 

Many people use intermittent fasting as a way to help support weight loss efforts as it’s a simple way to reduce the total number of calories consumed in one day. Many feel that it’s an easier way to cut calories without feeling super restricted, and studies suggest that it may be a good option for supporting weight loss. (1)

Supports Cellular Repair

While fasting, our cells are able to start a cellular repair process. (2)

Digestive Health

Supporting gut health is one of the best things we all can do to set the foundation for overall wellness, and some studies have shown an increase in gut bacteria diversity after fasting. (3) Why is this important? With trillions of bacteria residing in the gut, we have to support a balance, being sure that we have enough beneficial bacteria to keep the harmful bacteria at bay. This gives us another reason to consider using intermittent fasting to support health.

Inflammation

Reducing our overall inflammatory load is an essential part of supporting optimal wellness as chronic inflammation is a driver of chronic disease. (4) And, studies suggest that intermittent fasting may have a positive effect on the body’s inflammatory status. (5)

May Provide Anti-aging Benefits

Some turn to intermittent fasting due to its potential anti-aging benefits. Animal studies have shown promising results suggesting that short-term fasting improved the life-span of mice. (6)

Potential Insulin Resistance Benefits

Studies also suggest that intermittent fasting may help reduce blood sugar levels, and may be a more beneficial option than calorie restriction when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes. (7)

The Different Intermittent Fasting Methods

As intermittent fasting has grown in popularity, different methods have surfaced on how to practice IF, which include:

16/8 Method

The most popular method, and likely the easiest one to get started with, simply involves skipping breakfast and making your first meal of the day lunch. The key here is to be sure that you are fasting for 16 hours and eating within an 8-hour window.

5:2 Diet

Instead of fasting each day, you would eat as you usually would five days out of the week, and then two days per week, you would restrict your calories to 500-600 calories. Note that you don't want these to be back to back days.

Eat-Stop-Eat

Once or twice a week, you would fast for 24-hour using the eat-stop-eat method.

Keep in mind that most people start with the 16/8 method, and once they are used to intermittent fasting as they see how it works for them, they may branch out to trying other methods. However, many only follow the 16/8 method, so there’s really no one size fits all.


Is Intermittent Fasting Right For Me?

While intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous benefits, it’s definitely not for everyone. Here are just a few scenarios where intermittent fasting may not be a good idea.

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women or women who are trying to conceive.
  • Those who have or have eating disorders or unhealthy relationships with food.
  • Anyone with a diagnosed health condition like diabetes or those who are underweight.

If you have any questions on whether or not intermittent fasting would benefit you, check with your doctor first.

How to Get Started

Think IF may be right for you? One of the easiest ways to get started is to try the 16/8 method as you are simply extending your overnight fast. Start with this method and see how it works for you!

Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Stay hydrated during your fasting state by drinking lots of water.
  • You can drink black coffee or tea if you crave that morning cup of joe. The key here is to avoid adding that cream and sugar while fasting.
  • Break your fast with a nutrient-dense meal and avoid anything refined, processed, and high in sugar. The last thing you want to do is fast and then consume a high sugar meal that will cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Ideally, you’ll want to use intermittent fasting as a healthy tool where you keep the other two meals of your day as clean as possible.

Using Intermittent Fasting as a Healthy Eating Tool

One of the biggest questions about intermittent fasting is whether or not skipping breakfast is healthy or not. What this really comes down to is what you choose to eat during the rest of the day. It’s not healthy for those who skip breakfast and then have unhealthy habits throughout the rest of the day.

But, if you’re cleared to try intermittent fasting and you prioritize wholesome and nutrient-dense eating, the studies suggest that intermittent fasting can be a powerful healthy eating tool that comes with a long list of benefits.

Related reading: Battling Hunger

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