Diet fads come and go, but one practice that has consistently been present is intermittent fasting. Up until recently, it hasn’t been very popular but new research from experts have proven that the benefits of intermittent fasting deserves its growing credibility.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan that involves eating and fasting at specific periods of your day(s).
How does it work?
There are many ways to implement intermittent fasting. The three most common and advisable timeframes are as follows:
- 16:8 method: eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16
- 5:2: eating normally for 5 days a week and fasting for 2
- Alternate days: eating normally for one day and fasting for the next
The practice is flexible, depending on your own tolerance and body suitability. Some people prefer to eat normally every day and fast for a couple of days, but other people might find fasting for two days too restricting.
5 benefits of Intermittent fasting:
- Helps to lose weight
The main reason why people do intermittent fasting is to lose weight. Research shows that the fewer meals you consume, the less calories you put in your body – intermittent fasting works to restrict your meal intake, and unless you eat big meals as compensation, your body will be able to lose fat and weight.
- Reduce insulin resistance and regulate blood sugar
Whenever we eat, our blood sugar spikes up and the more frequently we eat, our blood sugar remains high. The insulin produced in our body then has a hard time bringing the blood sugar down, hence why people with insulin resistance tend to develop type 2 diabetes.
Intermittent fasting can help reduce blood sugar hence making us less resistant to insulin.
- Changes your hormonal and cell function
Research has showin that intermittent fasting also helps with balancing hormones. Commonly seen in women, hormonal imbalances can lead to a plethora of difficulties – especially in giving birth and period cycles. People with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) have commented that intermittent fasting has helped them in balancing their hormones for a healthier body.
- May help prevent illnesses
Illnesses like Alzheimer’s, dementia and diabetes as mentioned can be prevented with intermittent fasting. However, more extensive research is being conducted but it has been known that due to the nature of maintaining a ‘food-less’ window has helped to improve health significantly.
- Better sleep
Intermittent fasting also helps to regulate and boost sleep quality. At night, your gut tends to work twice as hard to digest food – which is why many experts advise not to eat heavy meals at least 3 hours before bed. When you fast at night, your digestive system has a chance to rest and hence, give you a better night’s sleep.
While there are many benefits of intermittent fasting, there are also undiscussed side effects. With any change you put your body through, there will be different reactions to it. For example, some people have experienced queasiness, dizziness and overall lethargy because of the lack of food intake.
Regardless, the point of intermittent fasting is to better your gut and health, therefore you would need to find a method that works specifically for you. Each individual has different preferences and the goal is not to suffer but to restrict and discipline.