What is intermittent fasting, and should you try it?

What is intermittent fasting, and should you try it?
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Intermittent fasting is becoming a highly sought-after diet trend. While there are no restrictions on what foods you should eat, the emphasis is placed on the timing of your meals. More than a diet, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern which can result in weight loss as long as it is followed consistently and includes the consumption of healthy foods.

Intermittent fasting has actually been around for a long time. It’s also a part of many religions including Hinduism, Islam, Buddism, Christianity and Judaism.

The most common forms of intermittent fasting

The 16:8 diet

By far the most popular and common type of intermittent fasting, this plan allows an eight hour window of eating in a day and 16 hours of continuous fasting.

Periodic fasting

This includes one or two fast days per week, which can be flexible as up to 25% of your daily caloric intake (approximately 500-600 calories) is allowed on those fast days.

Alternate-day fasting

This plan allows 24-hour fast periods and eating periods, where 25% of your daily caloric intake (approximately 500-600 calories) is allowed on fasting periods. However, this is the toughest form of intermittent fasting as it has the most fasting days per week.

Pros and cons

Does intermittent fasting work? How well? Does it have any side effects? We took a look at both the benefits and drawbacks.

The most obvious and popular reason people take part in intermittent fasting is to lose weight, and it can be effective. One study showed that intermittent fasting helped obese men and women lose weight and lower their cholesterol and blood pressure levels. According to News Medical, intermittent fasting also helps our body take health preventive measures like helping to prevent coronary artery disease and reducing the risk of developing age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.

However, intermittent fasting can also have negative side effects. Experts from Harvard University suggest that a strong biological urge to overeat forms following periods of fasting. Our appetite hormones go into overdrive when deprived of food, and we may consume an excess amount of calories as a reward for fasting – which defeats the entire purpose. Also, as a result of not eating for hours on end, our bodies lack energy, which may make it difficult to complete tasks or go to gym and exercise. This can have an overall negative effect on our fitness goals.

Is it worth a try?

Whether intermittent fasting is worth a try or not depends on the individual and the status of their health. Skipping meals and intensely reducing calorie intake can be dangerous, especially for diabetes patients. People who take medication for heart disease or blood pressure can also be at risk from fasting. Anyone with a history of eating disorders or signs of disordered eating should also stay away from intermittent fasting.

If you require a lot of physical energy during the day or engage in intense fitness training and exercises at the gym, this diet may not be for you

While not every form of dieting will work for everyone, it’s mostly about staying consistent with the pattern and patient with the results. Giving up too quickly or sticking to a diet for too long with no results may keep you from your goals.

Whatever trend or dieting program you decide to try, it is always best to consult a doctor first. They can advise you about what methods might work the best for you as well as how to get the best results safely.

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