Fasting has always been one of the most popular ways of losing weight and cleansing one’s system. The latest buzzword, then, in fasting is Intermittent Fasting (IF).
This form of eating has gained much traction and attention around the world. It can almost be called the Rockstar of fasting. Known to reverse diabetes and, by its very pattern, create a discipline for binge eaters and people with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, IF has loads of devotees and detractors (like all rockstars do).
One thing to keep in mind is that Intermittent Fasting is not a one-size-fits-all module. Also, one must note that intermittent fasting is appropriate only for those who do not have any medical conditions.
Intermittent fasting works on timing the different meals in a day and alternates between eating and fasting. It creates a discipline for binge eaters and people with eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia etc.
Identify your goal
Does your goal focus on improving metabolic functioning or weight loss or healthy eating? Tweak your fasting to suit your goal.
Choose a method
There are four kinds of intermittent fasting:
- Eat Stop Eat
- Warrior Diet
- Alternate Day Fasting
Pro-tip: Pick the one that is doable to you. Switch methods after at least a month. Eating here doesn’t mean binge or unhealthy eating at all. Balanced eating is the key. A meal that is rich in vegetables, fibres, starch, protein and fats would constitute the most ideal plan. Drinking plenty of water facilitates smooth digestion and also keeps you hydrated and energetic throughout the day.
Warrior diet is the most extreme of the fasting methods. In this you can eat very little for 20 hours and have as much in the remaining four hours.
Eat stop eat is fasting for 24 hours twice a week on non-consecutive days. Only those who have utmost perseverance can follow it for the time period and see desirable results. For others it is likely to lead to acidity and bloating.
Lean-gains is somewhat more practical as this involves fasting for 14 to 16 hours a day and eating in the remaining hours. All non-calorific drinks can be consumed during the fasting time.
Alternate fasting involves eating as many calories as one burns on alternate days and fasting the rest of the days. This regulates the sugar levels, cholesterol and creates a calorie deficit in the body thus promoting weight loss.
How much is too much?
The Harvard medical School blog claims that IF is reliable and safe. But consistency is a missing element in IF. It is not a lifestyle change like giving up snacks or fried or refined foodstuff.
Ideally, our meals should be rich in vegetables and fruits. When we eat starchy foods and sugar the insulin hormone stores it as fat in our cells. If we don’t eat between meals and let the insulin level drop, thus letting the fat be burnt, weight loss happens. IF works on ways to let our insulin levels drop so much so that it burns the stored fat and promotes weight loss.
Choose the best time to fast
Our bodies are adapted to eating during the day and sleeping at night. So night time eating and snacking tends to add empty, unused calories and thus leads to obesity.
The best time to do IF would be to eat during the better part of the day and fast longer hours at night.
Plan your meals without refined products, grains and sugar. Have whole grains, lean protein, good fats and fiber. Start eating earlier in the day and stop before evening. Do not snack. Keep moving throughout the day. Improve your muscle strength through appropriate work outs.
Actor Hugh Jackman did 16:8- 8 hours of eating and 16 hours not eating during X-Men series. Silicon Valley executives are great proponents of this method and claims it improves productivity. A friend who tried gave up because fasting stressed her. She couldn’t take her mind off eating or not eating. Her husband pulled through and has shed some stubborn kilos.
Fasting has loads of health benefits, above weight loss. It flushes the toxins out of your body and resets the entire system. Fasting is said to be as good as chemotherapy and improves longevity. But extended hours of fasting could lead to drop in blood pressure and formation of gall stones. An empty tummy fogs the brain and thinking abilities and productivity.
Intermittent Fasting is not a one-size-fits-all module. It is definitely not a weight loss fix. And it can lead to many side effects too. There certainly is no accountability to weight loss in intermittent fasting.
Vijayalakshmi Sridhar’s stories explore human relationships and their dynamics. She is enjoying her journey as a writer of fiction and features.