Intermittent fasting (IF) has become increasingly popular recently. It is recommended by dietitians, weight loss gurus, longevity promoters, and athletes as a way to boost metabolic health and give the body an internal housecleaning.
The hype and enthusiasm surrounding IF sounds like it is a recent discovery, but it’s anything but recent. Fasting goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks and has been practiced by several religions and spiritual disciplines like Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.
The good news about intermittent fasting is this: a little goes a long way. There is no need to starve yourself for days to derive the health benefits that IF delivers. In fact, going days without food can be dangerous, as well as challenging, and make you feel miserable. Fasting is a powerful technique, and it needs to be respected.
Here are a few ideas that will be helpful if you decide to give IF a try:
- There are a few different methods of intermittent fasting. One of the most common approaches is the 16:8 method. As the ratio implies, all food is consumed within an 8-hour period out of the 24-hour day. For example, breakfast at 8:00 AM, lunch at noon, and dinner before 4:00 PM. This is just an example; you can set your eating window whenever that works for you.
- Another popular approach is the 5:2 fasting plan. This entails eating normally five days a week and selecting 2 days to restrict your calories to 500-600. Finally, there is the 24-hour approach. This means not eating anything for the entire day and is typically done once or twice a week.
- These methods are not set in stone. As mentioned earlier, you are free to get creative. For example, fasting for 16 to 18 hours and shortening the eating time to 6 to 8 hours is an option for shorter fasts (less than 24 hours). Usually, people skip breakfast and eat lunch and dinner. Fasting for more extended periods (over 24 hours) is not common, but in some cases, it can provide significant digestive system healing benefits. Always get clearance from your physician before beginning any fasting regimen since fasting might lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Also, some prescriptions (such as those for blood pressure and blood sugar) may need to be modified to ensure their safety and effectiveness while you are fasting.
- Be prepared for a boost in Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Fasting blowtorches fat. Fasting also skyrockets HGH, which uses fat as fuel by raising levels of vital enzymes. HGH is essential for maintaining muscle mass and bone density.
- Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Fasting is not advised for children, if you are pregnant or nursing a newborn, or if severely underweight since these groups require more calories for ideal growth and nutritional intake. Also, if you have any eating disorder, fasting could aggravate your issue, so check with your doctor always!
- Why intermittent fasting works. The advantages of intermittent fasting might be significant. For example, fasting causes a condition called autophagy, which is the process of self-digestion by a cell through the action of enzymes originating from within the same cell that promotes the cannibalism of senescent cells. These cells no longer divide and are dead but continue to emit harmful toxins in a zombie-like fashion. According to many researchers, autophagy is the body's way of doing internal housecleaning, which is why fasting has life-extending possibilities.
- Stay safe. It bears repeating: fasting is powerful and not something to be taken lightly. Fasting can cause dehydration and electrode imbalances since water and salt intake are dramatically reduced. Some side effects of fasting are headaches and lightheadedness; moodiness; irritability; digestive issues; insomnia; halitosis (bad breath); and hunger and cravings. Typically, none of these side effects are severe, but you must be aware of them. Also, when breaking the fast, do not overeat.
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