A Guide To Intermittent Fasting For Beginners

Updated: May 15, 2020

Intermittent Fasting for weight loss and increased health

Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently a very popular health and fitness trend that is taking the world by storm.

Many of the world's most famous celebrities follow a form of IF such as Chris Hemsworth, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, among many others.

Intermittent fasting is used as a very powerful weight loss tool that also has many other health benefits.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an approach to eating that cycles between fasting and non-fasting "aka eating", over a set period. Unlike a diet that focuses on the food you should or should not eat, IF does not restrict the foods that you can eat. Rather it limits the time in which you can eat them.

Fasting has been in human nature since the cavemen, however recently it has gained major momentum in the health and fitness industry due to its very effective weight loss benefits.

Intermittent Fasting is not for everybody and should be adjusted according to your specific needs.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

There are a few different methods to choose from if you are interested in starting your fasting plan.

The first and most popular method is the 16/8 split. This method involves fasting for 16 hours of the day and fitting all your meals into 8 hours of the day. Typically the fasting period will last from 8pm till noon the next day. Then the eating period will be from noon until 8pm and repeat.

Another form is the 5:2 method. This method suggests eating normally for 5 days of the week, but for two days consume limited food. A typical goal is to limit calories to between 500-600 for those two days. You can adjust the days to whatever fits your schedule best, Monday and Thursday, Tuesday and Friday, it is completely up to you.

A variation on the 5:2 method is eating normally for 5 days, however, instead of limiting food for two days, those two days turn into a complete fast. So it is 5 days of eating as you usually would with 2 days of 24-hour fasting mixed in. The 24-hour fasts can start any time of the day be it day or night, as long as they continue until the 24 hours is up.

Fasting For Weight Loss

IF can be a great tool for weight loss if done correctly, which is the main reason the majority of people are so interested in it.

By limiting the hours in which you can eat, it automatically forces you to control how much you eat by helping you stay away from overeating. IF allows you to control your eating while still getting your daily nutrition requirements.

Fasting also can change the function of your hormones, helping stimulate increased weight loss. For example during a fast, insulin levels in the blood drop and that increases fat loss. (1) It also will increase the human growth hormone (HGH) which will increase fat burning and muscle building (2).

Health Benefits

There is an abundance of health benefits when you do an intermittent fast.

- Cellular Repair - Fasting will activate many key cellular repair processes (3). A very important process is autophagy. Keeping it simple, autophagy is the process by which waste is removed from cells. Increased autophagy can have multiple neurological benefits. Research is ongoing.

- Gene Expression - Some studies suggest that fasting can protect normal cells from carcinogenesis (4).

There are possibly many other benefits to intermittent fasting including, reducing inflammation, increasing heart health, cancer prevention, anti-aging, and increased brain health among others. Ongoing studies and continuous research is being done to confirm health benefits and discover more.

How To Start

Many of us have already done intermittent fasting without even realizing it. The 16/8 method requires you to fast for 16 hours, the example 8pm to noon is common. How many of you miss breakfast? If you have ever accidentally missed breakfast and waited till lunch to eat, then you have done intermittent fasting.

It isn't as hard as you may think. During the 16 hour fasting period you are able to drink water or have your morning coffee to aid in keeping away the hunger.

A key point to note is even though your eating time is restricted it is still very important to be eating the right foods. If you fast for 16 hours and proceed to eat junk food for the remaining 8 hours, then you will not receive the full range of health benefits possible.

Eating a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, lean protein, and nutrient-dense foods will yield the greatest results over time.

Should You Do It?

Intermittent Fasting is not for everybody and as such, it should be adjusted to your particular needs.

IF is not suggested for individuals who are underweight or have/are prone to an eating disorder as this can have a negative effect on your well being. If you fall into one of these categories it is best to consult a health care professional before starting any plan.

If you have any questions that pertain to your health or suitability for intermittent fasting, it is best to consult your chosen health care professional for information that will suit your needs.

Thank you, stay safe, and let us know what you think!

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