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What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is all the rave these days and rightly so because of its quick results and fewer “rules”. People have found an excuse to scoff on pizza’s and chicken wings in their eating window while also being on a diet. Get the low down on this diet craze, from a nutritionist point of view. Hold on! Before you go all awe with this conveniently healthy diet. Let’s take a moment to unlearn what intermittent fasting is really about.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern with alternate windows of eating and fasting. The fasting period is about avoiding any calorie intake. You can have food during the eating window. The eating period is relatively shorter.

There are different types of Intermittent fasting patterns recommended for reaping maximum benefits:

  • Time restrictive: Usually this pattern involves 16 hours of fasting period followed by 8 hours of eating window. For instance, the eating window can fall somewhere between 1-9 pm and the fasting window can occupy the rest of the time.
  • Alternate day: In this pattern, one day of fasting is followed by another day of eating. In other words, you don’t consume any food for 24 hours. You can eat during the next 24 hours.
  • Twice a week: This is also known as the 5:2 eating pattern. Here you restrict your calorie consumption to 500-600 calories during two non-consecutive days of the week. And you can consume normal calories during the rest of the week.
  • 24 hours fast: It is also known as an eat-stop-eat pattern. This involves 24 hours fast 1-2 times a week. Some people prefer calorie-free drinks like herbal teas, lemon water, etc. during the fast.

Let’s Look At Some Of The Questions That Are Eating Away At Your brain

Q1 - How is intermittent fasting different from starvation?

Starvation is depriving or restricting calories for an extended period of time. While intermittent fasting involves eating periods at regular intervals. Unlike intermittent fasting, starvation leaves your body in a larger calorie deficit. This might affect your metabolism. Further, starvation is not as sustainable as intermittent fasting.

Q2 - Does it hold good for everyone?

Except for the people who are underweight, pregnant and lactating females, and children below 18 years of age (who are still in their growth phase), Intermittent fasting is safe for everyone. However, it is essential to consult your doctor or dietician before starting on IF.

Q3 - How does it work?

During the fasting period, your body utilizes the energy from the food that you last ate in your eating window. When this phase is prolonged, your body runs out of food to derive energy. Hence, it burns fat to generate energy.

Q4 - Will it make me lose weight? For real

Research shows a 3-8% reduction in body weight after following the IF routine for 3-24 weeks (3). As the eating window is limited, Intermittent fasting naturally leaves your body into a calorie deficit. It might also help in burning the body fat.

Q5 - Are the benefits of intermittent fasting legit?

IF has shown many benefits including weight loss, muscle gain (1), reducing insulin resistance (and blood sugar levels), and enhancing the functions of genes for longevity (2) and disease prevention.

Q6 - How much Should I be exercising during intermittent fasting?

You can choose your exercise based on your calorie intake during the eating hours. Make sure that you have a meal close to your exercise schedule. It is also essential to keep yourself hydrated and maintain the electrolytes balance in your body especially if you are exercising during intermittent fasting.

Q7 - What am I allowed to take during the fasting period?

No food is allowed during the fasting period. However, you can take non-caloric beverages like herbal tea, black tea, coffee, etc. during the fasting period.

Q8- What Mistakes should I be avoiding during Intermittent fasting?

  • Do not eat too many or too few calories during the eating period of IF.
  • Don’t miss out on hydration. Drink 10-12 glasses of water with an adequate intake of electrolytes.
  • Making a drastic change in your diet to follow intermittent fasting is not advisable. For instance, don’t jump into the 16/8 diet with only 3 meals a day from a 6 meals routine.

Intermittent Fasting Myths Busted

Myth #1: Skipping breakfast is necessary while Intermittent fasting

It is not necessary to skip your breakfast if you are going for IF. You can choose your eating window flexibly. For instance, you can eat from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and fast for the rest of the time.

Myth #2: There are no limitations of what and how much to eat during the eating window of IF

Eating too many calories with higher amounts of fats, refined carbohydrates, processed foods, etc. is not advisable during the eating window as it might keep you away from the desired results.

Myth #3: Intermittent fasting slows down the metabolism

Intermittent fasting followed for a short period of time actually increases the metabolism rather than slowing it down (3). On the other hand, prolonged fasting might slow down your metabolism. The key is to continue fasting for a short time rather than stretching it for a longer time.


Nutritionist Pro Tips & Hacks

Before you go on a rampage on buying junk food, here are some healthier ways you can do intermittent fasting.

  • Include more high-fiber foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, etc. in your diet that might make you feel full for longer.
  • Eat slowly and frequently during the eating period.
  • Plan and prepare your meal ahead of time so that you don’t miss out on any of them.
  • Add sources of healthy fats like nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, etc. to every meal.
  • Have a sound sleep of 6-7 hours to keep up your energy levels during IF.
  • Include stress management exercises like yoga and meditation in your routine.

Intermittent fasting has proven health benefits resulting from the restricted eating period. But it is essential to do it properly to attain the results. Consult your nutritionist or dietician before starting on intermittent fasting to avoid all the obstacles and follow a process that can actually improve your health.

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