Sticking to a rigorous diet and intense exercise every day in the name of managing weight can be challenging. The process of weight management and dieting is hectic, lonely, expensive and most people give up along the way. With so much emphasis on physical appearance and for health benefits, weight management has become a trendy topic.
There are different ways people have been using to lose weight and manage their diet with the most popular one being eating healthy. This involves discarding some particular type of food like starch and concentrating on vegetables and proteins.
Another key method of weight management involves medical intervention such as the use of drugs, supplements and even surgery.
Diet and weight management are some of the daunting tasks that human beings go through both for health and aesthetic reasons. With numerous weight and diet management programs, there is one that has gained momentum and popularity-Intermittent Fasting (IF)
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that revolves between periods of fasting and eating. Many dieting programs focus on what to eat but intermittent fasting emphasize on when you eat. In simpler terms, it’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose.
According to John Hopkins School of Medicine, with intermittent fasting, you only eat during a specific time. Fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating just one meal a couple of days a week. This in turn helps your body burn fat.
According to Healthline, by fasting and then eating deliberately, intermittent fasting generally means that you consume your calories during a specific window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of time
Types of Intermittent Fasting
The most common ones according to Mayo Clinic include.
- Alternate day fasting. This involves eating a normal diet one day and either fast fully or have one small meal the next day.
- 5:2 fasting. Simply put, eat a normal diet five days a week and fast two days a week.
- Daily time-restricted fasting. It is important to note that having your eating window earlier on in the day is better than having it later into the night. However, feel free to come up with a regimen that fits your schedule perfectly. This can be in form of a 16 hour fast, where you fast for 16 hours and have an 8-hour eating window, a 20 hour fast, where you fast for 20 hours with a four-hour eating window or an 18 hour fast with a 6 hour eating window.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
According to research, eating too much has been linked to metabolic diseases, would eating less then be the answer? Below are some health benefits of intermittent fasting.
- Weight loss
This is one of the visible benefits of intermittent fasting. When properly followed, IF results in weight loss as it leads to the burning of extra fat in our bodies. Additionally, intermittent fasting enhances hormone function which in turn facilitates weight loss.
- Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
Intermittent fasting is known to reduce insulin resistance resulting in lowering of blood sugar. This therefore lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
- Improves the outcome of cancer chemotherapy
Intermittent Fasting may reduce the risk of cancer. A study done on cancer patients suggests that the side effects of chemotherapy may be diminished by fasting before treatment. Another study concluded that fasting before chemotherapy would result in better cure rates and fewer deaths
- Lowering cholesterol
When combined with exercise, alternate day fasting may help lower cholesterol in the body.
- Intermittent fasting also helps improve mental clarity as you will not have any postprandial comas
- Better night sleep
It has been scientifically proven that digestion is best done when you’re awake and active. Therefore, going to sleep with a full stomach can lead to bedtime acid reflux or heartburn, which can make it hard to fall asleep.
On top of these health benefits, intermittent fasting has some benefits over the other weight management regimens as it is very flexible, is cheap and is very easy to do
In summary, the beginning might be difficult, and this is normal as your body needs some time to adjust to the new routine. Some of the things that may make it easier include.
- Eating whole grain meals during your eating window
- Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
These foods will keep you full for longer periods of time and make your fasts more bearable. You may also want to drink some green tea during your fast as it gives you a feeling of satiety. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink lots of water too. However, one should not expect results immediately. It takes a minimum of four weeks to notice any effects on your body.
In conclusion, it is good to note that intermittent fasting is not for everyone and people under the age of 18 years and people suffering from type 2 diabetes should first consult their physician before going into intermittent fasting.