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Intermittent Fasting 101

You might have heard of the term 'intermittent fasting'. It is quite the hype at the moment and has been for some time. But what is it, what are it's benefits and how to it in our daily lives? So intermittent fasting is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Research shows that intermittent fasting is a way to manage your weight and prevent — or even reverse — some forms of disease. But is has lots more benefits to your body and brain. So how do you do it?

There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat and fast. For instance, you might try eating only during an eight-hour period each day and fast for the remainder. Or you might choose to eat only one meal a day two days a week. There are many different intermittent fasting schedules.

Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.

Intermittent Fasting Plans

You can pick a daily approach, which restricts daily eating to one six- to eight-hour period each day. For instance, you may choose to try 16/8 fasting: eating for eight hours and fasting for 16.

Another, known as the 5:2 approach, involves eating regularly five days a week. For the other two days, you limit yourself to one 500 calorie meal. An example would be if you chose to eat normally on every day of the week except Tuesday and Friday, which would be your one-meal days.

Longer periods without food, such as 24, 36, 48 and 72-hour fasting periods, are not necessarily better for you and may be dangerous. Going too long without eating might actually encourage your body to start storing more fat in response to starvation! Note: during the fasting when you’re not eating, water and zero-calorie beverages such as black coffee and tea are permitted.

Fasting Benefits

Research shows that the intermittent fasting periods do so much more than burn fat.

Here are some intermittent fasting benefits research has revealed so far:

  • Thinking and memory. Studies discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.

  • Heart health. Intermittent fasting improved blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements.

  • Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.

  • Diabetes and obesity. In animal studies, intermittent fasting prevented obesity. And in six brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.

  • Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.

Is It Safe?

Some people try intermitting fasting for weight management, and others may use the method to get more energy, better sleep or productivity. But intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone.

Some people should stay away from trying intermittent fasting:

  • Children under age 18.

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.

  • Those with a history of eating disorders.

Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting.

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