24-03-2021 / Health and Fitness

The complete guide to intermittent fasting | intermittent fasting diet

An intermittent fasting regime is considered one of the easiest methods for losing unnecessary fat while retaining muscle mass as it demands just a little behavioral change and nothing else. Here are three ways to do Intermittent fasting and lose weight.

The complete guide to intermittent fasting | intermittent fasting diet
Mazia AhmedMazia Ahmed

Mazia Ahmed

MSc Nutrition Science, Ph.D. Scholar

Table of Contents

Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

  • Nowadays, intermittent fasting is gaining much popularity as a method of shedding weight easily. To be true, it is not a diet plan but an eating pattern. It is an approach of rescheduling the daily meals to get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting does not change what is eaten; instead, it changes when the food is eaten. 

  • This fasting regime is considered one of the easiest methods for losing unnecessary fat while retaining muscle mass as it demands just a little behavioral change and nothing else. The key to the success of intermittent fasting is its simplicity. This method is so easy that anyone can follow it for a longer period without getting frustrated or bored, as seen in many strict diet plans. Sticking to a regime for quite some time is really helpful in staying healthy and fit. 

  • Strictly following every-day meal's timing has a remarkable effect on an individual's overall health. It is an excellent way to get lean body mass (less fat, more muscle) without following strict diet plans or cutting down too many calories. In intermittent fasting, calories are mostly kept as per the requirement and not reduced. This is attained by eating bigger meals in a short duration. 

How intermittent fasting works?

  • To understand the mechanism/working of intermittent fasting, we need to understand the distinction between an empty stomach and a full stomach. Full-stomach is a state when the body is digesting and absorbing the food. It starts when a person begins to eat and ends in four to five hours when the digestion period is over. When the body is in a full-stomach state, it is tough to meltdown extra fat as insulin level is high.

  • When the digestive period is over, the body goes into a post-absorptive state or empty-stomach state. The body does not process any food in this state. The post-absorptive stage lasts for about eight to twelve hours after the last food intake. It is easier for the body to burn extra calories in this state because the level of insulin is low.  

3 Types of Intermittent Fasting

There are various methods to follow intermittent fasting. However, we are going to discuss 3 most popular ways to do intermittent fasting:

1. Daily Intermittent Fasting

  • In this type of fasting, a person fasts for about 16 hours and then eats during the remaining eight hours of the day. The timing of fasting and its period does not matter.

  • You can start eating at 7 am and stop at 3 pm, or else, you can start at 3 pm and stop at 11 pm. You can manage the fasting and eating time according to your routine and schedules. Usually, people tend to skip breakfast as part of their fasting period and have only two big meals (lunch and dinner) in their eating time.

  • Daily intermittent fasting is followed every day, so it is not hard to get this habit into a routine. You just have to take care of not eating anything at specific times. 

Daily Intermittent Fasting

How to follow daily Intermittent Fasting

  • Fast for about sixteen hours every day (about 8-9 hours of the fast will take place while you sleep).

  • Try eating your first meal of the day after the sixteen-hour fast.

  • Eight hours after your first meal, start another 16-hour fast.

Disadvantages of daily intermittent Fasting

There is no such disadvantage on health. However, one particular disadvantage of this schedule is that it is hard to get the same number of calories throughout the week as one or two major meals are not eaten. It is tough to eat the calories of one or two meals at one time only. This results in weight loss, which can be good and bad, depending on an individual's goal.

2. Weekly Intermittent Fasting

  • One of the easiest ways to start intermittent fasting is by following it once a week. The occasional fasting has many benefits; even if it is not used to decrease the calorie intake, there are many other health benefits.

  • In this fasting method, a person does not eat anything for 24 hours in a whole week. This schedule allows an individual to eat six days a week and still give the benefits of fasting for the entire 24 hours.

  • People who want to keep on the same weight and not lose weight are advised to follow this regime as only two major meals are skipped in seven days. Also, this schedule allows a wide range of variations. You can plan your fasting period according to your own schedules.

  • People usually choose the day after the festival or the traveling day for a twenty-four-hour fast. Another benefit of following weekly Intermittent Fasting is that it does not have any mental barrier or fasting stress.

Weekly Intermittent Fasting

How to follow Weekly Intermittent Fasting

  • Fast for 24 hours every week (about 8-9 hours of the fast will take place while you sleep).

  • For example, lunch on Monday is your last meal of the day. You then fast until lunch on Tuesday.

Disadvantages of weekly intermittent Fasting

There is no such disadvantage on health. However, people often find it hard to eat nothing for an entire day and sometimes suffer from headaches, nausea, and tiredness. 

3. Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting

This type of fasting regime allows a bit long fasting period on every alternate day of a week. Suppose, if you had your dinner on Monday, then you will not eat until Tuesday's dinner. Then, you will eat all meals on Wednesday and start your fasting period after that until Thursday dinner, and the cycle goes on this way. By following this schedule, a person gets a long fasting period consistently and also eats at least one major meal every day. 

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting

How to follow alternate day intermittent fasting

  • Every alternate evening, go ahead with a twenty-four-hour fasting period (about eight hours of the fasting period will be over when you sleep).

  • In this example, you will be done with your dinner and start a twenty-four-hour long fasting period on Monday, at around 8 in the evening. 

  • Start eating by breaking the fast during the twenty-four-hour eating period every alternate evening. For instance, you may begin fasting at 8 pm on Monday and have your next meal at the same time on Tuesday. 

  • Preferably, the alternate day intermittent fasting schedule should allow you to eat at least one meal a day.

Disadvantages of alternate day intermittent fasting

There is no such disadvantage on health. However, there might be some drawbacks for some people:

  • Alternate day intermittent Fasting is hard to follow for a long time, and people often get bored. 

  • One of the most complex parts of Intermittent Fasting is to convince oneself consistently to eat more. You may find it easy to have a full meal for a day, but doing so every day takes a little bit of planning, much cooking, and consistent eating.

  • As a result, most people trying intermittent fasting end up shedding some extra weight because their meals' size remains similar even though a few meals are being cut out each week.

4 Benefits of intermittent fasting

Apart from melting down the excessive body fat and getting a lean body, intermittent fasting has various other benefits. Lets discuss them below:

1. Simple and Stressless Lifestyle

By following intermittent fasting, your life can become simple and stress-free because intermittent fasting allows few major meals, so you do not have to worry about cooking or arranging for breakfast after getting up. You just have to drink a glass of water, and you are ready to start your day off. It makes life a bit simple, hassle-free and also reduces the stress of daily meal planning, cooking, eating, and washing dishes.

2. Long life 

Intermittent Fasting helps you live longer. Various scientific researches proved that restricting calories every day could add up some more years to your life. Many mechanisms get activated in intermittent fasting that help extend the lifespan of an individual. In other words, one can get the benefits of a longer life without the hassle of starving.

3. Reducing the risk of cancer 

Intermittent Fasting may help in reducing the risk of cancer. However, this claim is not supported by lots of scientific research or experiments, and there is still a need for further investigation, but some authentic reports indeed support this statement. A survey conducted on ten cancer patients revealed that the side effects of chemotherapy might be diminished by fasting before treatment. Another study supported this finding. They asked the cancer patients to follow alternate-day fasting and concluded that fasting before chemotherapy results in better cure rates and fewer deaths. A comprehensive analysis of many studies on fasting and disease has concluded that fasting appears to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

4. Easy to follow 

Intermittent Fasting is much easier than dieting. Many diet plans fail not because they end up eating junk but because they fail to follow it for a long time. The problem with dieting is not nutritional but behavioral. On the contrary, intermittent fasting is very easy to follow for a long duration. You just have to understand the fact that you do not need to eat all the time.

Word of Wisdom

If you want to lose weight fast, intermittent fasting is the best way to do this. Even if you are happy with your weight and want to maintain it, then too, it will not be hard to follow the daily fasting or weekly fasting regime. However, if you are fasting for twenty-four hours per day or multiple days a week, it will be challenging to eat enough on your feast days to meet the calorie requirement. As a result, it is better to try daily intermittent fasting or a single 24–hour fast once per week for a smooth and hassle-free, and healthy life.

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