There are tons of fad diets that come and go with the efforts of body conscious people, strategies of fitness companies and trends of pop culture.
While it is certainly popular in health and fitness today, one thing intermittent fasting is not is a diet. Typically described as a pattern of eating, you can think of intermittent fasting more as a lifestyle than a diet. The primary difference between the two is that this method of eating specifies the “when,” not the “what.”
We’re going to be real with you, of course, and state (what we think is the obvious) that intermittent fasting does a lot more good for your health if you’re choosing healthy food options within those eating hours.
The Basics of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent means and action is happening sporadically or in intervals, and fasting means the deliberate refusal of eating. Together, the term generally refers to eating during certain hours of the day and fasting during the other hours.
You could almost think of your sleeping hours as fasting hours and your awake hours as eating hours. Most patterns people create in their intermittent fasting plan define the windows of fasting vs. eating a bit more specifically.
- The 16/8 method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: With this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Why do people choose to eat during only certain hours of the day? The primary sought after benefit is weight loss; however there are a number of other proven health benefits brought on by this fitness method!
- Weight loss seen as a result of increasing the metabolic rate while decreasing caloric intake.
- Heart health on account of the reduction of bad cholesterol, among other factors
- Anti-inflammatory benefits that could lessen the risks of developing chronic diseases
- Promotes a longer life as seen in animal studies
- Brain health by increasing the production of certain hormones and potentially encouraging new nerve cell growth
- Reduces insulin resistance as well as lowers blood sugar (note, this is good for protection against Type 2 diabetes, but is NOT good for those with Type 1 diabetes)
Studies are still relatively new, and it can be a difficult lifestyle to adjust to. However, the varied benefits of intermittent fasting shows that creating your deliberate eating pattern could support better health overall!