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Intermittent Fasting: What Is It, Types And Benefits

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Many people across the globe have started becoming health conscious and they wish to simplify the process of finding a healthy diet. In this course, Intermittent Fasting (IF) got introduced to help people lose weight, simplify their diet pattern, and thus help improve their overall health.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a type of diet that focuses more on when you should eat rather than what should you consume. This pattern is mainly considered to be interesting by the younger population and many other people. It determines the cycle between the fasting and eating period.

Hence, it cannot be called a conventional diet but a change in the eating pattern. There are many types of Intermittent Fasting, let’s discuss 5 popular types of Intermittent Fasting (IF).

5 Popular Types of Intermittent Fasting

There are so many types of Intermittent Fasting (IF), if you are interested in following Intermittent Fasting, check with your doctor or dietician and choose one of these 5 famous types of Intermittent Fasting (IF).

1. 5:2 Fasting:

One of the most popular IF method. The main purpose of 5:2 is that 5 days you eat your normal food without counting any calories and other 2 days, you have a calorie-restricted meal. For a woman, it is set at 500 kcal and for a man, it is 600 kcal. The reason this is a famous method, because for many dieting for 7 days becomes challenging. And fasting for 2 days becomes convenient for them as they can look forward to the feast days.

2. 16:8 Fasting:

The 16:8 method includes fasting for 16 hours and eating your normal food for 8 hours. For example, you start at noon and stop at 8 pm and then fast till the next day at noon. Following this method can be simple because we need not be eating after dinner and skip our breakfast. Drinking green tea, coffee or water is allowed, which can help keep hunger at bay. For women, it is recommended to fast only for 14 hours as their metabolism works better compared to men.

3. Eat-Stop-Eat:

As the name suggests, you eat and then choose two days out of 7 days a week. So, you fast from dinner one day to the next day at dinner time. It depends totally on how you wish to choose the distance, whether it is from one breakfast to another breakfast or lunch to lunch. Water, coffee and tea are allowed which do not add any calories to your diet. The only downside of this fast is that full 24-hour fasting may be difficult to follow. You can start by fasting for 14 – 16 hours and then gradually fast for 24 hours. 

4. Overnight Fasting:

This one is the simplest of all. It involves fasting for 12 hours every day. This means if you have your dinner at 8 pm, you can resume eating only after 12 hours that is at 8 am the next morning. Since this method is almost possible to achieve, it is one of the most popular ones too. But it may provide milder cellular benefits as compared to the others.

5. Alternate Day Fasting:

You have to fast every alternate day in this type of intermittent fasting. Another version of the same allows up to 500 kcal on a fasting day. This one is not recommended for beginners.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Aids Weight Loss

One of the major benefits of following intermittent fasting is that it helps improve your metabolic rate, helps you consume lesser calories, and helps lower your insulin levels, and increases growth hormone levels.

A 2014 study has shown the positive impact of IF on overall significant weight loss and waist circumference. All these benefits are dependent on the fewer calories you consume during the fasting period, if you binge during your normal day – then these benefits may not be seen.

May Improve Heart Health:

Many human studies are conducted on the benefits of intermittent fasting and one of them has shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure levels. These are all risk factors for heart disease.

Helps Reduce Insulin Resistance:

Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and hence helps to lower down blood glucose levels. This can protect against type – 2 diabetes. Human studies showed fasting blood sugar was reduced by 3-6% while fasting insulin was reduced by 20-31%.

Other benefits include based on human studies:

  • It can help protect against free radical damage.
  • It can help prevent certain types of cancers.
  • It is considered to be good for the brain as it helps increase BDNF; the deficiency of this hormone may indicate depression and other brain problems in humans.

Safety and Side Effects

Intermittent Fasting should not be followed blindly. The main side effect of IF is excessive hunger. It can make you feel weak, may affect your concentration power, and sometimes leave you irritated and cranky. This is a very temporary feeling and can be overcome with time.

But, there are few medical conditions where you should consult your doctor before going ahead with this kind of fasting. These conditions include diabetes, being underweight, kidney transplant, on medications, high blood pressure etc.

Nevertheless, no safety study is conducted on Intermittent Fasting (IF) and hence we advise you to follow it under healthcare supervision.

Key Takeaway

Intermittent Fasting is an easier and faster way of losing weight which works for many people, but not for all. If you plan to try intermittent fasting, make sure you consult a healthcare professional and follow a balanced diet. If you binge on junk food during eating periods, all your efforts go in vain and it will not help you lose weight or boost your health.

Read more about 6 Simple Healthy Breakfast Ideas for Weight Loss!

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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Riddhi Parmar

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