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How Does Intermittent Fasting Work and the Three Essential Ways to Follow This Pattern of Eating

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Intermittent Fasting

Fasting gets a bad reputation just like the other “F” word – “fat” – . There are numerous studies suggesting that fasting actually improves brain function and has numerous health benefits.

Intermittent fasting, or IF, is growing in popularity among fitness gurus, bloggers  and YouTubers particularly for weight loss. Intermittent fasting is turning some widely-held ideas about weight loss on their heads, especially when it relates to the importance of breakfast.

Because of this, as with all new approaches to weight reduction, it has been gaining steam in the health and wellness mainstream.  Before you decide if intermittent fasting is for you, take a little time to learn more about it.

 

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating and not another fad diet;.  Around the world many cultures practice intermittent fasting to mark special occasions or for religious reasons. Only recently has it become popular in Western culture.

With intermittent fasting, you are given an “eating window” during which you are allowed to eat; you fast during all other times outside of that window.

There are essentially three ways to follow this pattern of eating.

 

  • The 16/8 method:

One of the most common fasting practices is to shorten the feeding window to an 8-hour period, and fast for 16 hours. During the 16 hours of not eating, about half of those hours are spent sleeping.

It does not matter when you start the 8-hour feeding window; do what works for you. I personally tend to eat my first bite of food around 11 am and my last bite by 7 pm, however, if I happen to be hungry earlier or later, then that is when I eat. 

You can easily set your timings according to your routine. For example, you would start eating at 1:00 p.m. and then stop at 9:00 p.m., fasting until the next day at 1:00 p.m.

This is the most common method because it fits in easily with most people’s current routines and produces results quickly.

 

  • Eat- Stop- Eat:

The eat-stop-eat method is one of the most difficult. It most closely resembles a weekly body cleanse or detox as opposed to an eating pattern.

In this method, you fast for 24 consecutive hours once or twice a week. You are allowed low-calorie drinks to help you get through your day.

Individuals may opt for this method if their routine or strenuous work hours do not allow them to skip breakfast. They may intermittently fast on the weekends or on a day off throughout the week.

 

  • The 5:2 diet:

In the 5:2 method, you consume only 500 to 600 calories for two consecutive days. It is also known as “The Fast Diet.” There are no requirements about what you can or cannot eat.

You can eat a 600-calorie burger and be done with your eating for the day or you can eat more low-calorie foods throughout the day; how you stay within your 600-calorie limit is up to you.

 

Why Intermittent Fasting?

People commit to intermittent fasting because it is easy to adopt and relatively convenient. Most people see rapid, visible results and report a host of other health benefits, such as:

  1. Quicker, easier, and more convenient weight loss
  2. Better brain support
  3. Increased metabolism
  4. Reduced risk of illnesses and diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, stress and inflammation in the body
  5. Improved body health similar to results from a cleanse or detox

infographic of the health benefits of intermittent fasting

It is highly recommended as with any change to diet or eating habits to consult a physician or nutritionist before beginning intermittent fasting.

 

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