What is Intermittent Fasting?

what is intermittent fasting
Scheme and concept. Clock face symbolizing the principle of Intermittent fasting. Vector illustration. Infographic
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What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is the act of not eating food or calories for a specific period of time. It is also referred to as time-restricted feeding.

what is intermittent fasting

What happens in our body during intermittent fasting?

In the human body, there are tiny fuel sensors at the cellular level. These sensors continuously measure the amount of energy (calories) available for utilization by our body.

Normally, the preferred source of available energy is glucose. The body maintains the blood sugar (blood glucose) levels to provide a steady energy source for our body.

The majority of the glucose is provided by your diet, and because of that, your body tends to seek an additional source of energy whenever you miss a meal to power your cells. One of these additional sources of energy is protein. The body transforms the protein in our body into glucose.

Basically, the amino acids in the body can be converted into glucose when the body’s glucose level is low. This process is called gluconeogenesis.

The downside of gluconeogenesis is that amino acids have many other important functions in the body, so it’s not really ideal to dip into protein stores regularly.

The good news is that our bodies have a protein-sparing fuel option called ketones; which originate from fat tissues.  When we fast, fat tissues in our body are broken down into molecules known as fatty acids, which are then transported to the liver where they are packaged into ketone structures.

These ketones travel throughout the body where they are being used as fuel. This ketogenic process keeps our body active in low glucose intake times or fasting without depending on the breakdown of skeletal muscle for fuel.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Improved cognition
  • Lower inflammation
  • Reduced risk of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

What is Intermittent Fasting?, How do you fast?

There exist various types of intermittent fasting which involves restricting food intake for anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. The most common methods are; 16/8 fast, fast mimicking diet, and alternate-day fasting.

Time-restricted feeding (16:8)

The 16/8 diet divides the day into an 8-hour eating window followed by a 16-hour fast. For instance, a person observing the 16:8 fasting diet would have their first meal at noon and finish eating before 8 p.m. then after 8 p.m., the fast begins, and the next meal would be by noon the next day.

what is intermittent fasting
The 16:8 method of intermittent fasting

This method of fasting has been shown to result in weight loss and improved body composition. This could be due to the improved regulation of daily calorie intake. If you are looking to keep your weight in check like I am, then you should definitely consider the 16:8 method of intermittent fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting?, Alternate Day Fasting (ADF, 5:2)

Alternate day fasting involves individuals fasting for 24 hours. Then the next day is feasting day where individuals don’t have to restrict their calorie intake. An example of ADF is the 5:2 diet. The diet consists of 5 days a week where you eat as much as you want, followed by 2 days of full 24 hours fasting.

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ADF Schedule

Most times, not all individuals can completely abstain from food for two whole days; instead, they opt for eating 25 percent of their daily calorie needs (approximately 500 calories) on fasting days instead of avoiding food completely.

Similar to the 16:8 method, ADF has proven to lead to weight loss and improved body composition. The degree of effectiveness of weight loss in comparison to continuous calorie restriction is unclear because there are no significant advantages of ADF to calorie restriction for weight loss.

Regardless, ADF may be much more effective at improving insulin levels in overweight and individuals who are obese when compared to calorie restriction.

What is intermittent fasting?, Fasting Mimicking Diet:

The Fasting Mimicking Diet is made up of a range of plant-based foods that are designed to please taste buds. Each day’s meals include nutrition bars, kale crackers, soups, and other items. All of the foods are a scientifically formulated combination of micro and macronutrients designed to keep the body nourished while fasting. Finally, during each period of fasting, the dieter has all of their meals pre-packaged, making it simple to follow and maintain.

It is advised that one should consult a health expert before adopting any intermittent fasting method. Intermittent fasting is not recommended for individuals who have a history of eating disorders, children, or pregnant women.

In addition to the above, those performing really heavy physical activity should be more cautious because of the risk of experiencing low blood sugar (periodic hypoglycemia) during a fast.

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