Losing weight and staying fit is not easy and modern lifestyle has made it even more difficult! Losing weight is not just about sweating hours in the gym or doing any other physical activity, you need to complement it with a proper diet plan. Dieting is essential when you are focusing on losing weight and toning your body. Many people are under the false impression that dieting means leaving food completely; in fact, dieting means consuming right quantity of meals spread across the day. Dieting is more about consuming nutritious and healthy food throughout the day and limiting consumption of unhealthy items in the diet. Intermittent fasting is one of the popular methods of dieting, and has proven results for weight loss and healthy life.
Intermittent fasting (IF) involves enjoying a normal nutritious diet but in smaller time frames. It is basically the practice of staying without food for extended periods of time, thus involving a conscious decision of skipping few meals deliberately. It has been found that fasts for short periods of time can accelerate weight loss, and this is the basic principal of IF. It is a great method for people who want to get lean without adopting conventional regular body building diets. But for a successful IF, there are some things you need to take care of –
- You should be able to control your intake of calories.
- You should adopt a nutrition dense eating style and focus on fresh, natural, unprocessed foods.
- You need to combine your diet with regular exercise sessions.
Research on IF is still in stage of infancy, but even until now, the results seem promising. It is not a new concept as people have followed this method of dieting since ancient ages. Only the objective or pattern followed at that time varied. Benefits of successful Intermittent Fasting can be listed as –
- It helps in managing body weight.
- It helps in controlling body lipids and regulating blood glucose.
- It helps in maintaining or gaining lean mass.
- It helps in restricting calorie intake of body.
- Along with insulin sensitivity, it also increases secretion of growth hormones.
- It lowers level of triglycerides.
- It boosts loss of fats by reviving body metabolism.
- It increases strength and maintains good health.
- It is a simple to follow diet, and saves you time and money.
- It can be easily followed while travelling as options for healthy food are limited during traveling.
- It reduces inflammation and lessens free radical damage in the body.
- It preserves learning and functioning of memory.
Intermittent Fasting is a concept of fasting, hence you can find several variations of IF being practiced like the 8/16 method or 5/2 method. People often wonder what these numbers in IF methods mean. The number is ratio of feeding time to fasting time. For example, when you have your dinner at 8 pm and breakfast at 8 am, there are 12 hours in between when you do not eat anything. This means you were fasting for 12 hours (8 pm – 8 am) and feeding for 12 hours (8 am – 8 pm). Thus you are following as 12/12 fasting method. Some people also follow the Alternate Day Fasting plan, where they fast for 24 hours followed by 24 hours of feeding time. Thus, you consume food every alternate day.
Similarly, the 8/16 method means 8 hours of feeding time and 16 hours of fasting time. It is also called the leangains diet and has certain rules. Diet in this method needs to be rich in proteins and should cycle carbohydrates. For an effective 8/16 diet, you need to include nutrient-dense food in post workout meals and also include fasted training.
In the 5/2 diet, people fast for two non-consecutive days of the week and eat regular nutritious food in remaining 5 days. It is a popular form of IF where there is calorie restriction for 2 days in a week. This diet is known to promote weight loss and also has several health benefits. This diet is seen to be easier to comply with compared to regular dietary restrictions.
Basically, Intermittent Fasting is a pattern of eating and fasting that reduces your eating window for each day. Thus, for a successful IF, discipline and commitment is of utmost importance. You need to learn self-control and manage your hunger pangs. IF is not similar to other diet plans which prescribe eating 5-6 meals a day. It is a powerful tool to follow a healthy diet and live a healthy life. Experiment with shorter durations of fasting, and then progress to a couple of days of fasting, and you will realize the difference it makes to your health!