Intermittent fasting has been gaining a lot of attention lately, but what exactly is it?
Intermittent fasting involves the practice of extending the time period between meals, typically dinner and breakfast, so that you’re eating within a shorter time frame.
People typically use intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight loss, but the practice also has been credited with enhancing brain function, promoting gut health and improving other health markers.
When you fast, your body gets a break from digestion, which requires a lot of energy. With a much-needed break, the body can focus on other important functions like autophagy, the process of clearing away damaged cells that may be disease-prone, and “decluttering” the brain.
So, Should You Give Intermittent Fasting a Try?
The really great advantage of intermittent fasting is that it’s easy. It doesn’t involve any complicated rules, food restrictions, special meal preparation, or fine print. You simply eat within a specified “feeding window” and abstain from food for longer than you normally would. Another advantage is that there are a variety of intermittent fasting plans to choose from, so you can find one that works for your lifestyle.
For example, with the 16/8 method of fasting, you fast for 16 hours each day and eat only for a timespan of 8 hours. This is probably the most common type of intermittent fasting, and also the easiest one to start doing. Although 16 hours may feel like a long time to fast, remember that this time span includes 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
Here are some examples of typical feeding windows within the 16/8 method:
9am to 5pm
10am to 6pm
11am to 7pm
12pm to 8pm
Research on intermittent fasting as an effective tool for weight loss is still ongoing, but promising. One study demonstrated that, a fter 10 weeks, intermittent fasting participants had lost, on average, more than twice as much body fat as the control group who did not have feeding restrictions. The time-restricted feeding group lost more body fat simply by changing when they ate!
But it's important to remember that intermittent fasting is just another tool to add to your weight loss strategy -- it cannot replace a healthy, balanced diet nor can it replace exercise.
Whether you integrate intermittent fasting into your weight loss plan or not, you still need to be mindful of calories and eliminate high-calorie junk food. Eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet will keep you satisfied during fasting periods and also support your overall weight loss goals. Focus on eating a lot of vegetables, healthy proteins and fats, and a bit of whole grains, and you’ll be more likely to feel satiated.
Everybody needs a vacation -- especially your body!
If we are eating every four hours, we are forcing our digestive system to work that much harder and longer. By giving our gut a break, we may be giving our body, brain, and nervous system the opportunity it needs to reboot or to focus on necessary repair work and maintenance.
If you are thinking about experimenting with intermittent fasting, do your research and and then talk to your doctor, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.
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