This article is authored by Dietitian Akshi Kapadia. She is a leading dietitian and nutritionist based out of Bombay. She has 4 years of experience in product development as well as food processing.
Losing weight is a constant battle for most of us. In the midst of our busy schedule, we all look for quick fixes that can help us reduce weight. However, this proves to be quite challenging as many times we are unable to achieve desired results or we experience a sudden weight gain once we are off a particular calorie-controlled diet or regime. Following a high-protein diet, increasing fibre intake, squeezing in more sleep, drinking healthy beverages are some of the sustainable ways to boost weight loss. Unfortunately, many of us have fallen prey to various short term and calorie-controlled diets to accelerate weight loss. Fad diets have flooded the health and wellness industry with the guarantee of providing quick and visible results.
While some of these fad diets may work for a month or two you will need to follow a diet or regime that is sustainable in the long run. Unlike most conventional diets, intermittent fasting requires you to follow an eating pattern rather than cutting down the number of calories consumed. It is accurate to say that intermittent fasting is a timed approach to eating. Let’s learn more about intermittent fasting!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Well, contrary to the common belief, fasting is not bound to only religion. A lot of people have switched to intermittent fasting to either boost weight loss or simply maintain their weight. Intermittent Fasting refers to the eating plans that alternate between fasting and eating periods. A lot of research has been conducted on intermittent fasting, including this Harvard Medical School Study, and has shown a lot of promising results. This method may not be suitable for everyone but studies say if followed correctly, intermittent fasting can help lose weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent or control diabetes and improves brain health.
Complete digestion of a meal takes at least 5-6 hours. Sometimes, we tend to feel bloated and lethargic due to overeating. According to Ayurveda, we should leave a fourth of the stomach empty for proper digestion. Ayurveda practitioners recommend fasting once or twice a week. These fasts help the digestive system recover its strength and remove the toxins from the body.
If you’re interested further in how intermittent fasting positively affects your body, here’s a great article with experts weighing in on the topic.
The science behind intermittent fasting
To understand the science behind intermittent fasting we need to realise the role of insulin in our body. Insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar, is made in the pancreas and released in the bloodstream in response to eating. When released, insulin causes the body to store energy as fat. During the fasting period, insulin levels in our body are considerably lower which reverse the fat-storing process. Because of low insulin levels, many people have noticed an improved heart rate and cognitive functions.
How do I do Intermittent Fasting
There are three methods that are recommended for intermittent fasting. However, it all depends upon personal preferences:
1. Twice a week (5:2)
In this method, you’re supposed to eat 5 days a week and fast for 2 days. It stores your calories at 500 for two days a week. During the other 5 days of eating, you maintain a healthy lifestyle and a normal diet. You can choose whichever fasting days that you want for example- Tuesdays and Thursdays as long as there is a day left for eating a normal diet in between.
2. 16 hours fast & 8 hours eating window (16:8)
This method includes eating patterns in a day. There is a window left for having a normal diet per day. For example, you fast for 16 hours of the day and are able to eat for only 8 hours of the day. Usually, people find this method simpler than other methods, as people already fast for 8 hours at night so it is convenient to continue fasting by skipping breakfast and eating lunch directly.
3.The 24-hour fast (eat: fast: eat)
This method asks you to completely fast for 24 hours on every alternate day. Often, it is only done a couple of times per week. Most people find it convenient to fast from breakfast to breakfast or dinner to dinner. Although, it is important to note that due to the extreme nature of this version of intermittent fasting one may face some side effects such as fatigue, headaches, irritability and low energy.
Why should you follow intermittent fasting?
We need a sustainable diet to maintain weight. For a healthy lifestyle, we need to have a diet that is sustainable and convenient for long term. Intermittent fasting is simple and easy to follow with absolutely no side effects. Whether you are working from home or you are reporting from your workplace, intermittent fasting can be followed without any hindrance.
Some studies show that a healthy reference diet includes an increase in the consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and legumes. While you are following intermittent fasting it is imperative for you to eat healthy food and abstain from refined sugar and rich food.