There are so many new diet trends, and you may have heard a lot about the benefits of intermittent fasting lately. This eating regimen is not new. In our hunter-gatherer days, we ate when food was available and fasted when it wasn’t. However, most people have gotten accustomed to eating several meals and snacks throughout the day. If you’re eating every hour or two when you’re not sleeping and want to improve your health, you may want to try intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting 101
Intermittent fasting means that you give your body a break from taking in calorie-laden foods and beverages for a given period throughout each day or week. You’re already doing this when you sleep. Intermittent fasting might require you to extend that calorie-free period a little longer.
How Long Does an Intermittent Fast Last?
An intermittent fast typically lasts from 12 to 24 hours. Some popular intermittent fasting protocols are as follows:
- Eating limited amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day and one full meal every evening
- Avoiding eating from dinner one night to dinner the next night once or twice a week
- Setting up a 4 to 8-hour eating window every day and avoiding calories outside of that time frame
- Restricting your calories throughout the day once or twice a week
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting, which is sometimes referred to as IF, gives your body a digestive break. It also helps regulate certain hormones within the body, which work together to reduce inflammation and burn fat. IF enhances your health in a number of ways, including the following:
- Activates cellular repair – Fasting triggers autophagy, a process that eliminates waste from the cells and may protect the body against neurodegenerative disease and cancer.
- Reduces insulin resistance – IF gives your body time to metabolize blood sugar. Eating this way helps your body process sugar more efficiently, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Aids in weight loss – Intermittent fasting boosts your metabolism, helping you burn calories more quickly. Many people take in fewer calories while doing IF than eating normally, which also promotes weight loss.
Tips for Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting can seem daunting, especially if you love to eat. This regimen isn’t ideal for children, people with eating disorders, underweight individuals, or people who have trouble regulating their blood sugar.
If you decide that intermittent fasting may be right for you, consider these tips to make the most of it:
- Stay hydrated – Your body eliminates water and electrolytes more quickly when you’re fasting. Drink water at regular intervals to replenish lost fluids, maintain your energy, and satiate your hunger. Electrolyte drinks can also help, but don’t consume too many sugar-laden beverages during your fast.
- Focus on what you can eat – When you do eat, focus on packing in the nutrients. Fill your plate with colorful vegetables. Incorporate some healthy fats and lean proteins. Use food to fuel your body instead of satiating your hunger with junk.
- Get comfortable with discomfort – Many of us reach for a snack as soon as our tummies grumble or the clock hits a specific time. Allowing yourself to get truly hungry can help you reset your body’s mechanisms so that you’re more in tune with your physical sensations and avoid habitual or emotional eating.
If this intermittent fasting 101 guide has inspired you to try this method of eating, you might want to support your system with supplements. Take it easy. Although intermittent fasting may feel uncomfortable at first, it shouldn’t make you feel sick, dizzy, or shaky. Listen to your body, and adjust your regimen so that it suits you.