There is one clear consensus when it comes to weight loss: consume less and you will lose weight. While most people translate this fact into reducing their calorie consumption, there is a strong, growing body of evidence that suggests intermittent fasting is the best way to keep your metabolism humming along. Intermittent fasting is loosely defined as going short periods of time consuming no (or very few) calories. Is not eating for periods ranging from 8 to 24 hours the answer you are looking for?
A 2013 review of medical literature published by The British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease
found that periods of intermittent fasting can lead to lower blood sugar and fat levels, healthier blood pressure numbers and improved body composition. All of these things, of course, help decrease the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Lead researcher James Brown, Ph.D., a lecturer at the School of Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, England, believes that intermittent fasting may improve our cells' sensitivity to insulin -- the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Poor insulin sensitivity has been linked to metabolic syndrome which has symptoms including a larger waistline, high blood pressure, and elevated blood triglyceride and sugar levels.
It also appears that fasting can alter your genes in a way the encourages the body to burn fat for energy which is never a bad thing! That's not all. It has become apparent that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation in the body by lowering the activity of circulating pro-inflammatory compounds. Inflammation is a major contributor to the development and progression of many diseases. It can also improve your memory. The National Institute of Aging believes that the mild stress fasting puts on your brain cells may make them function at a higher level -- the same way your muscle function improves when stressed during a workout.
Intermittent fasting might just be the best "diet" out there! “As borne out in published studies, intermittent fasting is beneficial and adherable long term, a form of eating that one uses over the course of a lifetime for long-lasting health benefits,” Brown says.
If you want to give it a try, here are some guidelines to help you succeed:
Pick Your Fast Time
While there aren't any specific rules, the general practice is to alternate days of normal caloric intake with days of pronounced calorie reduction. You can choose how many hours you want to reduce your intake, anywhere from 8 to 24 hours, and the number of days a week you wish to fast. One popular way to do it is to follow the 5:2 rule. In this system, 2 non-consecutive days are spent fasting with a consumption of no more than 500 calories. When people are doing 24 hours fasts, they often go from lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner, taking advantage of the hours you spend sleeping. “Everyone is different, so you need to experiment to find a fasting method that works for you,” advises Brown.
Try picking fast days where your mind will be occupied with other activities.
It may take you a little while to get used to this style. Most people benefit from easing themselves into it. Try skipping breakfast one or two days a week, stretching that overnight fast until midday. Similarly, you can try eating dinner earlier in the evening and pushing your breakfast until about 10 a.m. This is a great way to build your tolerance for longer fasts.
Don’t Overdo It
The fast is called 'intermittent' for a reason. The idea is to take a break from eating, not give it up for long periods. It is advisable to fast for no more than 24 hours and to do so only 2 days a week.
While fasting it is important to stay hydrated. Water, seltzer water and unsweetened tea are great calorie-free options. And as a bonus, drinking lots of water could prevent you from feeling like your belly is empty.
If your goal is to lose weight, continuing to exercise while fasting can create a perfect fat burning environment. But if your training is for performance goals, like a personal best run time, it is best to restrict your workouts to non-fasting days. Use your common sense. If you feel faint, grab some food. Some people try to time the end of their fast with the end of their workout. For example, if you’re fasting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., hit the gym at 4:30 p.m. and then have a healthy post-workout meal.
Don't go overboard when your fast is complete. Approach your next meal like you didn't fast at all. Load up your plate with vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins.
Know Your Limits
Headaches, fatigue and cranky moods can happen while fasting. As one's body adapts to fasting, these become less of an issue. For some, this ill feeling can continue. If you feel sick every time you fast, it probably isn't for you. If you have any medical conditions, it is best to consult your physician before attempting a fast. Listen to your body. If fasting doesn't seem to be a fit, something else will be.
Are you a fan of fasting? How do you work your fasts?
Source: Oxygen Magazine