Maintaining a healthy lifestyle may seem daunting, but it is not as difficult as it seems. With the world going digital and technology automating, there’s a lack of manual human work. Working these days often looks like sitting in front of a laptop for more than nine hours, which gives rise to obesity and many other health-related issues due to a lack of physical activity.
TV, the internet, and other forms of entertainment are now accessible around-the-clock. The majority of the day and night is spent sitting and munching. A higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases can result from consuming more calories and being less active.
Intermittent fasting has been shown in scientific research to help reverse these patterns. In actuality, fasting occasionally is more natural than consistently eating three to four (or more) meals per day. Many diets emphasize what to eat, but intermittent fasting puts the focus on when to eat.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is eating in a limited time frame, especially when it is appropriate for you. Your body can burn fat if you fast for a set period of time each day or consume only one meal a couple of days a week. Additionally, there are many health benefits of intermittent fasting.
For those who are unaware, intermittent fasting is not a diet but rather a pattern of eating which alternates between periods of fasting and windows for eating. There are many different approaches to intermittent fasting, but they all start with deciding on regular eating and fasting windows of time.
Methods of Intermittent Fasting:
The most common techniques are as follows:
- The 16/8 method: This method calls for 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8-hour window during which food can be consumed. You may, for instance, try eating only for eight hours each day and fasting the other sixteen.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This is a 24-hour fast, once or twice every week. For instance, you might skip meals from supper one day to dinner the following.
- 5/2 method: With this approach, you eat normally the other five days while restricting yourself to 500–600 calories on two separate days of the week.
- Alternate-day fasting: Eat a normal diet one day and either completely fast or have one small meal (less than 500 calories) the next day.
- Daily time-restricted fasting: Eat normally but only within an eight-hour window each day. For example, skip breakfast but eat lunch around noon and dinner by 8 p.m.
All of these strategies should help you lose weight by lowering your caloric intake, as long as you don’t overcompensate by consuming more in your eating windows.
The 16/8 approach is widely regarded as being the most straightforward, long-lasting, and doable approach. It is also the most well-liked.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:
Intermittent fasting can be quite beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight as well as your body and brain. People might even live longer if they adapt into this lifestyle.
According to research, intermittent fasting does more than just burn fat. The body and the brain are affected when changes to this metabolic switch take place.
The core health advantages of intermittent fasting are as follows:
- Memory: According to studies, intermittent fasting improves verbal memory in adults.
- Brain health: Intermittent fasting boosts the neuronal protein BDNF and may promote the development of new nerve cells in terms of brain health. It might also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Insulin resistance: It helps in lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31%, reducing insulin resistance and potentially protecting against type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation: An important factor in the development of many chronic diseases is inflammation, which has been shown in some studies to be decreasing.
- Heart health: Intermittent fasting may lower inflammatory indicators, blood sugar, insulin resistance, bad LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and blood sugar. These are all risk factors for heart diseases.
- Anti-aging: Fasting boosts the body’s metabolism, which makes it easier for your body to break down food and burn calories, which in turn leads to weight loss, and a much younger appearance.
- Chronic diseases: Researchers discovered that limiting calories enhanced energy production and lowered the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Lowering obesity: Lowers BMI, body fat and helps in weight loss in obese people.
How does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The theory behind intermittent fasting is that by limiting our food intake, our bodies will use our fat reserves for energy more rapidly and effectively. Although the most immediate source of energy for us is glucose from carbs. When glucose isn’t available, we turn to fat for energy. When there is a lack of food, this occurs even more frequently because we a have limitless capacity for fat storage.
As mentioned above, there are many ways to approach intermittent fasting. There is no ideal fasting strategy, thus your strategy should be based on what works for you and your eating habits.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?
In general, it’s critical to consider your goals and the reasons you wish to practice intermittent fasting. Do you intend to continue doing this forever or just for a limited period of time?
Many people attempt to lose weight by fasting, but if you can’t maintain the fast for an extended period of time and the approach isn’t sustainable, you risk gaining the weight back. Because it could encourage you to eat less overall. This is especially true if you choose balanced meals and eat reasonable portions when you are in your eating window while doing Intermittent fasting.
Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting should not be started without consulting a doctor if you have recovered from a serious illness or are presently struggling with one. Because it is typically necessary to consume enough calories in order to maintain lean body mass and a robust immune system, which is important for people with cancer or immune systems that are compromised. Before considering intermittent fasting, some people should consult a doctor or should not start it at all.
The people who should avoid Intermittent fasting are as follows:
- Diabetic Patients:
Diabetes patients already experience frequent blood sugar peaks and valleys throughout the course of the day; they don’t need fasting to amplify these blood glucose reactions. For those with type 1 diabetes, who are unable to manufacture insulin (the hormone that removes sugar from the bloodstream and transports it to different cells in the body like muscle tissue, adipose (fat) tissue, and even the liver), this is extremely troubling.
In order to eat food without experiencing hyperglycemia, or having too much sugar in the bloodstream, type 1 diabetics frequently need to administer insulin injections.
- People with Digestion Issues:
When digestion problems are already difficult enough to manage, adding an irregular eating schedule simply serves to exacerbate the problem. Intermittent fasting may make your symptoms worse if you already have digestive issues like constipation, bloating, & indigestion etc.
Due to the extended fasting periods, Intermittent fasting can also cause intestinal problems. Periods of fasting, may alter the regular functions of the digestive system.
- Pregnant/ Breast Feeding Women:
The development of a kid may be endangered by Intermittent fasting when nursing or pregnant. For the baby’s healthy development and milk production throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding, appropriate calorie intake is necessary. Intermittent fasting will affect your ability to consume calories, hence it is not advised for women who are pregnant or nursing.
- People On Medication:
Some medicines must be taken with food because, despite their numerous undesirable side effects, they may cause nausea or dizziness if taken without it. Even those who regularly take a number of vitamins or supplements may be impacted by IF fasting periods. For instance, people with anemia or low blood iron levels may need to take one or more iron supplements daily to help restore iron levels. Taking iron supplements with food can help to reduce the nausea that they are known for generating. That is why it is suggested for people on medication to avoid Intermittent fasting.
Consult your doctor first before considering intermittent fasting. If you use specific medications or have particular medical conditions, any form of fasting could be risky. A medical professional can assess your medical background and offer advice.
It is essential to try those approaches that are healthy and easily doable for your body and mind. Intermittent fasting might not be the best option for you if adhering to a schedule of meal times causes you stress.
Consult with a trained dietitian and nutritionist at Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad for more nutrition guidance, who will help develop a plan to meet your health and well-being goals.
Consult our dieticians and nutritionists by booking an appointment now on the following numbers:
051-8464646 (24/7 General inquiry)
Or reach out to us at https://www.shifa.com.pk/nutrition-dietetics/ for further information.