Diet

Intermittent fasting: What is it and how does it work?

Have you been looking to trim those excess kilos around your midriff? Are you preparing for an upcoming athletic event or might you simply wish to look and feel healthier? These are a handful of the situations which can be addressed through intermittent fasting.

Still, it can be difficult to adapt to such a lifestyle without first appreciating its main principles as well as what the process actually involves. Let us therefore take a look at why intermittent fasting has become an increasingly popular lifestyle option, what it entails and a handful of routines worth considering.

Intermittent Fasting Defined

As you might have already guessed, the principle of intermittent fasting is rather straightforward. The routine consists of dividing a certain time period (for example a day) into one period where you eat and one where you don’t. As simple as that.

If you happen to be concerned about the health effects, you will be happy to learn that fasting is actually engrained into human evolution. While it has largely been forgotten in favour of quick fixes and fast food meals, the associated effects are still very real!

What are Some of the Benefits that Intermittent Fasting Can Provide?

The most obvious effect of this approach involves weight loss without depriving your body of the nutrients that it requires to function on a daily basis. It will also help to increase your levels of insulin resistance. As adult-onset (Type 2) diabetes is becoming an increasing concern in this day and age, the ability of your body to regulate insulin levels is really important.

Fasting has also been shown to reduce rates of inflammation. While further studies need to be performed, this can be beneficial to those suffering from chronic illnesses such as arthritis, fibromyalgia and even some forms of varicose veins.

Research likewise suggests that fasting from time to time can help to reduce the levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol as well as triglycerides and various inflammatory markers; all signs that a more significant underlying problem may be present.

A Quick Look at Some Fasting Programmes

There are a handful of options at your disposal if you are looking to adopt intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. Let’s look at two options.

One of the most common methods is known as 16:8 fasting. This involves abstaining for food for 16 hours (two-thirds of the day). You can use the remaining eight hours to eat what you wish; as long as the foods are healthy.

20:4 fasting is perhaps a more challenging option, as you will only be provided with a four-hour window during each 24-hours period during which you can eat. In general, you will eat a single, large meal or a handful of healthy snacks during this interim.

What About Alternate Day Fasting?

Alternate-day fasting is yet another alternative. This routine involves one day of very strict caloric intake alongside another associated with eating regularly. However, it is important to note that alternate-day fasting will not require starvation. Even when you are abstaining from foods, you can still consume unsweetened coffee, tea and water.

Could Longer Fasts Provide Even More Benefits?

You might be curious to learn about longer fasting periods, for example extending it for up to 48 hours. While these are extremely effective in terms of cleansing cycles as well as weight loss, it is important to mention that you will need to consume plenty of fluids in order to avoid dehydration when doing these kinds of fasts.

Intermittent fasting can be an excellent way to lose weight, to detoxify your body and to augment your current health. Still, it is important to mention that any of the programmes outlined above should only be undertaken after you have obtained the advice of a medical professional. You could very well be surprised with the results that are just around the corner!

Written by:

Marcus Sühr
Marcus Sühr

Next generation personal trainer and co-founder of Trion