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Intermittent Fasting, Should You Try It ?

In one of my old blogs about fasting, I had decoded the science behind fasting and its benefits. It is known that when animals fall ill, the first thing they do is give up eating until they show signs of recovery. This clearly means that fasting by itself is healing and one of the easiest and cheapest of all natural remedies of relieving the body of overloaded food and preventing it from poisoning the system. Interestingly, humans require a very small quantity of food to keep the system in good condition and most of us are eating food in excess of what our body needs.

Fasting has several benefits – from weight reduction, to repairing the wear and tear of the body, rejuvenating the body and expelling the toxins from the body. However, only abstinence from food cannot be termed as fasting. Fasting is an art and the rules are fully scientific.

One underlying principle is that while we’re fasting, our life-supporting processes do not stop, although their work is reduced to some extent. So even when we’re fasting, our body continues to receive nutrition as it is saved in advance in the body.

There is no better method to remove toxic matter from the blood and the veins like fasting. Even a short period of abstinence from food, enhances the working of the excretory organs as they cleanse up the body. Naturally, as the fasting time increases, the accumulated waste matter is expelled more and more rendering the body clean and pure.

According to Naturopathy experts, fasting provides extra energy and time to completely cleanse up the body. Cleansing cannot be achieved only by activating the digestive system as it becomes sluggish over a period of time due to overwork. As it relaxes during a fasting period, all our body organs become potent and actively carry out the cleansing process.

Mahatma Gandhi was a huge proponent of fasting and believed it provided him the energy and strength to pursue his goals…”All the vitality and all the energy I have, comes to me because my body is purified by fasting.”

Intermittent Fasting

Which brings me to another interesting concept called “Intermittent Fasting”. This phenomenon is gaining popularity all over the world and is seen as a safe and fast way to lose excess body fat.

According to experts and people who practice “intermittent fasting”, it is not a diet, it is an eating pattern where you schedule your meals in a manner that you get the most out of them. It is not about what you eat, it is about when you eat.

Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It does not state which foods you should or should not eat, instead when you should eat them.

For example: you could fast for 16 hours and eat during the rest of the 8 hours or you could eat normally for 6 days a week and fast for 24 hours of the 7th day. So you see it’s more about how you schedule your eating and not what you eat.

How does this work?

Let’s try and understand how intermittent fasting helps loose fat. In order to do that we should try and understand the difference between the ‘fed state’ and the ‘fasted state’.

Your body is in the ‘fed state’ when it is digesting and absorbing food. Typically, the ‘fed state’ starts when you begin eating and lasts for three to five hours as your body digests and absorbs the food you just ate. When you are in the ‘fed state’, it’s very hard for your body to burn fat because your insulin levels are high.

After that time-span, your body goes into what is known as the post–absorptive state, which is just a fancy way of saying that your body isn’t processing a meal. The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the ‘fasted state’. It is much easier for you body to burn fat in the ‘fasted state’ because your insulin levels are low.

When you’re in the fasted state your body can burn fat that has been inaccessible during the fed state.

Because we don’t enter the fasted state until 12 hours after our last meal, it’s rare that our bodies are in this fat burning state. This is one of the reasons why many people who start intermittent fasting will lose fat without changing what they eat, how much they eat, or how often they exercise. Fasting puts your body in a fat burning state that you rarely make it to during a normal eating schedule.

Fat loss isn’t the only reason people are trying intermittent fasting. Some of its other benefits include:

  • It helps retain muscle mass
  • Help you live a longer life>
  • You end up making lesser visits to the gym
  • Reduces the risk of cancer
  • Lowers blood sugar level and most importantly,
  • It is easier to follow that dieting

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Here are some that are popularly known. I’ve described them such that it is easy to understand and implement.

16/8 Leangain Daily Intermittent Fasting

This fasting is done every day and is one of the easier methods. In this method, you fast for 16 hours every day and eat during the rest of the 8 hours. You eat your first meal at the end of the 16 hour fast period.

The fast period includes the 8 hours that you’re sleeping. At the end of the 8 hours, you start the next 16 hour fast. There is no rule on what you eat in that 8 hour period and when you start that period.

 

5/2 Weekly Intermittent Fasting

In the 5/2 fast, you eat normally for 5 days of the week and restrict calories to 500-600 on the two days of the week.

On the fasting days, it is recommended that women eat 500 calories, and men 600 calories.

5 days of the week, you eat normal and the other two days you can eat two small meals of 250 or 300 calories per meal.

 

Weekly Intermittent Fasting

This is a good option if you want to keep your weight or bulk up.

You fast for 24 hours at a stretch every week.

For example: you stop eating after the Monday lunch and the next meal after that will be Tuesday lunch.

 

 

Alternate Day Intermittent Fasting

In this method you start a 24-hour fast every other evening. For example, if your start a fast at 8pm on Monday, you will break that fast at 8pm on Tuesday.

Starting Tuesday 8pm, you will begin a 24-hour feeding period until Wednesday 8pm after which you will once again begin the 24-hour fasting period.

You will find that in this method, you’re eating at least one meal per day.

 

The Warrior Diet

In the Warrier Diet, you eat small amounts of fruits and vegetables during the day and eat a full heavy meal in the night.

In this diet though, it is recommended that you eat foods that are whole and unprocessed.

Is Intermittent Fasting for you?

Intermittent Fasting is for everyone. It is ideal for people who are struggling to get the extra fat off. If you are healthy and not struggling with weight issues, you can still do it and enjoy its many benefits mentioned above. It might seem a bit difficult in the beginning especially skipping breakfast since we are conditioned to believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But just like every new thing that you do in life, this requires effort and mental commitment. With time your body will get accustomed to this routine as well. The important thing to keep in mind is that during the ‘fed state’ you must eat normally – neither more nor less.

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