Intermittent fasting is one of the fastest growing health and fitness trends over the last few years.
Fasting is not a new concept. Early civilizations fasted out of necessity because they didn’t always have something to eat. There were no refrigerator or supermarkets. As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. Later and still to this day, fasting was done for religious or spiritual reasons, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. More recently, people discovered that fasting can lead to health benefits.
What is intermittent fasting?
To put it simply, it’s an eating schedule where you eat within a specific time period and fast the rest of the time. There are several different methods:
5:2: You eat normally five days a week and the other two days you reduce calories dramatically – no more than 500 to 600.
Eat-stop-eat: You restrict all food for 24 hours, once or twice per week.
16/8: You eat for 8 hours and you fast for 16 hours each day, or a few times per week.
How does it affect your body?
Hormone levels adjust to make stored body fat more accessible for energy, while cells initiate repair processes, such as autophagy, which is when they digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins. Human growth hormone levels rise and insulin levels go down, resulting in fast loss and muscle gain.
What are the health benefits?
- Weight loss
- Increased energy
- Reduced insulin resistance
- Improved memory
- Protection against disease
- Lower bad cholesterol
- Heart health
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I drink liquids during the fast?
Yes, as long as they do not contain calories. Water, club soda, coffee, and tea are fine, but do not add sugar or milk.
Can I take vitamins during the fast?
Yes, however, many vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they should be taken with a food source, so it’s a good idea to take them during your eating window with a meal.
Will I lose muscle?
If your total caloric intake remains the same, you will not lose muscle mass.
Can I workout while fasting?Yes, fasted workouts are encouraged, however, it’s better to time them shortly before your eating window opens so that you replenish your muscle with fuel.