Intermittent Fasting: Benefits, Methods, and How to Do It Right


You’ve probably tried intermittent fasting or heard about it from a friend. Weight loss is a popular trend that continues to grow in popularity. Melinda Gong, a Registered Dietitian at UC Davis Health, explains intermittent eating and the pros and cons.

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, is about how and when one eats.

You only eat at a certain time with intermittent fasting. According to research, eating only one meal on two days per week or fasting for certain hours every day may be beneficial.

Mark Mattson , a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist, has been studying intermittent fasting since the 1990s. He claims that our bodies evolved to allow us to survive for several hours or days without eating. Before humans learned how to farm, in prehistoric times they were hunters and gatherings who evolved so that they could survive and thrive for long periods of time without food. They had to. It took time and effort to hunt and gather nuts, berries and other game.

Even 50 years ago in the United States, experts note that it was easier to maintain healthy weight. The TV was turned off by 11 pm, there were no computers and people stopped eating to go to bed. The portions were smaller. People got more exercise and worked outside.

Many adults and children are staying up longer to watch TV, browse social media, chat and play online games. This can lead to snacking and sitting all day and night.

A combination of extra calories and reduced activity can increase the risk of obesity, diabetes type 2, heart disease, and other diseases. Intermittent fasting has been shown in scientific studies to reverse these trends.

What is the intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting relies on the idea that our bodies can more efficiently and quickly use their fat reserves for energy by restricting our food intake. When glucose is not available, our bodies will burn fat to produce energy. This occurs even more when food is scarce. The amount of fat we can store is limitless.

You can fast intermittently in many different ways. Fasting plans are not “perfect”, and they should be tailored to your lifestyle.

Fasting for a certain amount of time each day, usually 12 or more hours is one method. Fasting is possible if you sleep for 7 hours or more each night. You can easily fast every day if you do not eat anything after dinner. This will help you burn fat more effectively. Fasting can be effective for people who are nighttime snackers.

Alternate day fasting is another form of intermittent fasting. You can eat what you like 5-6 days a weeks and fast 1 or 2 of those days. Water and broth are encouraged during those days of fasting to avoid dehydration. Fasting can be useful for those who are busy at work and may not be able to eat regularly.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

You can do intermittent fasting in several ways. All of them involve dividing the day or week up into eating and not-eating periods.

During fasting periods you will eat very little, or even nothing.

The most popular methods are:

  • 16/8 Method: This method, also known as the Leangains Protocol, involves skipping your breakfast and limiting your daily eating time to 8 hours. For example, from 1-9 pm. You then fast for 16 hour in between.
  • Eat Stop Eat: This is a 24-hour fast, done once or twice per week. For example, you would not eat from the dinner of one day to dinner on the following day.
  • 5:2 Diet: This method allows you to eat only 500-600 cals on two days that are not consecutive, while eating normally the remaining five days.

All of these methods will help you lose weight by reducing the number of calories that you consume, as long as your eating habits are not increased.

The 16/8 method is the most popular, easiest to follow and sustainable. It is also the most popular.

Is intermittent Fasting Right for You?

This question is hard to answer. It’s important to decide why you want intermittent fasting and what you expect to achieve. Do you intend to continue this for the rest of your life?

If you are not able to sustain the plan, you could gain back that weight. It is possible that intermittent fasting will help you lose weight because it can make you eat less. This is particularly true if, during non-fasting periods, you choose balanced meals and eat in sensible portions.

Think about your eating patterns. You may find that you snack more at night. Intermittent fasting can help you to eat less. You can start eating earlier if you realize that your last meal is in the late evening.

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