The research around intermittent fasting offers results that often contradict each other. There is no doubt that it can have certain health benefits and it definitely helps one lose weight. However, more studies emerge, which prove that the efficiency of fasting isn’t very different from other diets (CMAJ). If you want to try ‘going without’ be sure to take all necessary precautions to make this experience safe for your health.
Intermittent Fasting and Health: Should You Risk It?
According to research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics, even a single cycle of intermittent fasting can reduce biomarkers for chronic disease. It can improve your metabolic profile. And it can definitely help you lose weight. Therefore, you should take your chances with fasting.
However, there are also undeniable risks associated with this kind of diet. First of all, you run the risk of developing anemia, dizziness and nutritional deficiencies. You will also struggle with hunger and might trigger a binge eating episode if you have a history of those. This means that you should be very careful about your intermittent fasting plan.
There is also a matter of research, which clearly shows that despite its efficiency, intermittent fasting isn’t more effective than a well-balanced weight loss diet. In fact, you might get more benefits from the 14-day fat burn diet plan in the long run. This is because this program is easier to follow and thus, it won’t have a negative impact on your motivation.
Fasting, on the other hand, is legitimately difficult for the majority of people. And when they become stressed because of the hunger, they often break their diet. This becomes a huge blow to one’s motivation to continue trying with weight loss diets.
The conclusion is that intermittent fasting can do you a lot of good. However, this will happen only if you do it right.
Intermittent Fasting Types: Top 4 Most Popular Options
1. The 16/8 plan
This type of intermittent fasting is rather straightforward. It requires you to not eat for 16 hours a day. Meaning if you have breakfast at 7 a.m., you should have your last daily meal no later than 3 p.m. This method can be the easiest type of fasting to start with, but only if you use a bigger ‘eating window’ at the beginning. For example, start with 12/12. Note that you can drink during the fasting hours, so it should help keep worst of the hunger pangs at bay in the beginning.
2. The 5:2 plan
Unlike the previous type of fasting, this is a week-long plan. In essence, it allows you to eat unreservedly five days and then fast for two. However, it’s strongly advised that you only cut your calories to 500-600 on the fasting days. Note that you can pick any day of the week for your fast. For example, your two low-calorie days might be Monday and Friday.
3. 24-hour fast
This plan is similar to the previous one, but you’ll need to go 24 hours without any food. You can drink water, but nothing ‘heavier’ than that. According to this plan, you should have this fast day once a week. Bear in mind that you don’t have to skip a ‘day’. This means that you can fast 24 hours starting lunch on Monday. This means you’ll be able to sate your hunger by Tuesday lunchtime.
4. Alternate day fasting
This type of requires you to eat normally one day and fast the next. You don’t have to go completely without food, but you should limit your calorie intake to 500 max. You can work up to completely skipping meals eventually or switch to one of the plans listed above.
How to Do Intermittent Fasting the Right Way?
- Don’t start big.
In order to make intermittent fasting safe and easier for your body to bear, you need to start slow. However, you need to understand that your pace has to be personalized. You can start with going without food for 12 hours a day or by cutting your calories by 500 a day. Try with slowly reducing your calories first and see how your body reacts. Don’t forget that there are many intermittent fasting plans. Therefore, you should try different options and see which is the most comfortable for you personally.
- Go without snacks.
One of the best ways to start your fasting routine is to go without food for a few hours at a time. Start with skipping snacks and you’ll eventually work up to skipping meals as well.
- When you eat, eat healthy.
The success of your intermittent fasting plan will depend on what exactly you eat when you do. Avoid foods high in fat as well as processed foods. You need to maintain a healthy diet outside of the fast period and avoid overeating when you complete the cycle.
Most importantly, remember that you should only practice intermittent fasting occasionally. Keep your plan at a month maximum and don’t repeat it more often than once in three-six months.