Facts about Intermittent Fasting (IF)

I started intermittent fasting because I wanted to lose weight but it has sort of become a new routine in my life. I would fast for about 14 – 18 hours, depending on how late in the evening I ate. Also, when I have a busy day, my breakfast consists of a meal replacement shake very early in the morning, followed by lots of fluids throughout the day and a medium sized meal at about eight o’clock at night.

I am not a Dr. and this post is based on my knowledge of IF, but also my personal experiences.

Benefits of Intermittent fasting

Weight loss is one major benefit of intermittent fasting because it consists of cycles of fasting and eating. Insulin levels drop when the body doesn’t consume food for energy, therefore using the stored glucose as reserve, burning fat in the process. If this process is repeated regularly, a bigger contribution to weight loss is made.

This diet has also got some great benefits for the gastrointestinal tract. During fasting, the GI tract has got time to rest and repair, also resulting in less bloating and a healthier gut.

The body gets used to not eating during specific hours of the day, causing the stomach to shrink and the body to crave less calories which results in eating less as a result and feeling full faster. This can also have a drastic impact on the cholesterol levels, lowering these alongside the blood pressure.

A Harvard research study has also shown that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on the ageing process, causing the body to preserve its youth.

How does it affect Cells and Hormones?

When fasting, the body adjusts itself accordingly in order to make stored fat more accessible. A repairing process is initiated and the expression of genes is changed.

-> The human growth hormone levels skyrocket which benefits fat loss and muscle gain.
-> Gene expression is altered by changing the function of genes which are related to longevity and protection against disease in order to make sure the body still has the same immunity.
-> Insulin sensitivity improves, causing those levels to drop dramatically, helping with the accessibility of stored body fat.
-> IF increases the brain hormone BDNF and aids the growth of new nerve cells which may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, animal studies have shown that this diet may prevent cancer and reduces inflammation markers.

Safety and Side effects

When starting IF, it may be slightly difficult as the body may take some time to adjust to the new diet. This could therefore feel like a slight cold. If a medical condition is present, a Dr. should be consulted. Some of which include: Diabetes, low blood pressure, underweight or during pregnancy. This does not mean that IF is dangerous and can have some serious health risks if you’re healthy and well nourished.

Intermittent Fasting Methods:

There is the 16/8 method which consists of skipping breakfast and restricting your eating period to an eight hour window, i.e. between 1 – 9 pm. Fasting lasts for 16 hours in between.

The method of eat-stop-eat involves fasting for 24 full hours twice a week. You can choose the day that is preferable to you.

The 5:2 diet focuses on only consuming a limited amount of calories for two non-consecutive days of the week. The calorie restriction is usually between 500 to 600 calories on that specific day. You eat as normal as usual the other five days. I think this method is a good stepping stone to the other two methods as it slowly gets the body used to eating less.

Questions and Answers:

What is the most effective fasting time window?
After 12 hours of fasting, the body begins two break down fat and speeds up the process between 16 and 24 hours, causing a higher weight loss.

How much can I eat during the eating period?
If the goal is to lose weight, it should be the case of burning more calories than consuming. A moderately active adult roughly burns 1500 calories each day, so if the calorie consumption is kept at a 1000 – 1200 mark, weight loss is guaranteed. This cuts out about 500 calories each day, making this method more effective.

Am I restricted to what beverages I can consume within a fasting period?
Any beverage can be consumed, such as juice, coffee, tea and Water. Water is the preferred choice as it has the least amount of calories. It is very important to stay hydrated and drink up to two litres a day at a minimum. Caffeine should be kept at a very low but is allowed.
I usually consume any beverage I feel like but sparkling water is a very good to hydrate me.

Why I like Intermittent fasting

I love IF as it makes me feel refreshed and more comfortable in my own body. This is due to increased energy and less hunger or craving for excessive calories which make me feel sluggish and uncomfortable. Sleep therefore comes easier at night, overall contributing to my body’s well-being.

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