Guide to

Intermittent Fasting

 Intermittent Fasting is an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and eating. It’s not about what foods to eat and what macro ratios you should base your diet on. Rather, it’s about when to eat and when not to. 

In a sense, it is more of an eating pattern than a conventional “diet” per se.

There are many variations of IF cycles, but here is how the most popular one works:

Fast for 12-16 hours a day from dinner to lunch the next day with a schedule like:

  • Dinner: 8 pm

  • Fast: 9 pm until 12 pm the next day

  • Break Fast at 12pm to 1pm - eating window begins until 8 or 9pm.

Depending on which method, the period of not eating can be anywhere from a few hours up to a few days. All depends on which fasting methods you’re following and the purpose of doing the IF.

So Why Fast?

People fast for various reasons, and humans have fasted for centuries.

Some out of necessity while others out of religious belief. 

When we feel sick, we unintentionally and instinctively fast for a period of time. So the fasting concept is nothing new.

And our bodies are clearly equipped to handle a short-term fast. 

But why try fasting if it’s not for religious reasons, sickness, or lack of food.

It’s because intermittent fasting carries mounts of health benefits:

Along with this, there are additional changes that happen internally:

  • Increased Growth Hormone: Fasting increases human growth hormone level as much as 5 times. This aids fat loss as well as muscle gain.

  • Lower Insulin: IF decreases your insulin level and increases lipolysis—the breakdown of fat. This makes excess, stored fat more accessible to use as energy.

  • Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.

All these changes lead to phenomenal health benefits like: 

  • Weight Loss: Weight loss relies on calorie deficits. You lose weight when you simply eat fewer calories than you burn. Intermittent fasting makes it easier to eat fewer calories without counting calories by limiting meal counts and eating time. 

  • Prevents Type 2 diabetes: IF reduces insulin resistance by drastically lowering blood sugar levels. This prevents you from developing Type 2 diabetes. 

  • Reduces Inflammation: Research shows IF reduces oxidative stress, which leads to reduced inflammation.

  • Reduces cancer risk:  Several animal studies have shown a link between reduced breast cancer risk and intermittent fasting.

  • Anti-aging benefits: In rat studies, IF boosted longevity by up to 83%. Not only that, IF’s effects on oxidative stress also leads to slow down in aging. 

The takeaway: Due to many cell and hormone level changes IF brings, you can experience countless phenomenal health benefits. By fasting for just 14 hours a day, you can increase your fat burn, lose more weight, boost brain power, prevent major diseases, and slow down aging, all without making any other changes to your lifestyle or counting calories.

Avoid IF if…

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • You have a history of an eating disorder 

  • You have low blood pressure.

  • You are on medications.

  • You are underweight.

  • You are a female with a history of amenorrhea.

  • You are a female trying to conceive.

  • You have a certain medical condition 

Common side effects you may experience would be hunger and loss of calories from skipping a meal. If you are not meeting your caloric needs as of now, intermittent fasting may not be for you. 

If you also don’t manage hunger well, this may not be for you. 

When in doubt, consult with your physician first before starting intermittent fasting.