There are a number of diets that can be followed for weight loss and muscle gain. Some people follow crash diets, keto diet, vegan diet, paleo diet, intermittent fasting, and many more. Every diet plan has been trending around with many celebrities, influencers, online fitness coaches, trainers, and even sports personalities trying out. Intermittent fasting was one such diet that almost many people around the globe tried, and experienced different results. This article will help you understand what intermittent fasting means, methods of intermittent fasting, and the exact working of intermittent fasting.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Whenever you think of a diet plan, you will be noting down all the food items you are supposed to include and exclude from your plate. To a change, this intermittent fasting is a little different from traditional diets. Rather than talking about what to eat and what not to eat, intermittent fasting focuses on when and when not to eat. Humans have been involved in fasting for several reasons such as religion, spiritual days, occasions, and early hunters have fasted whenever they couldn’t find food. So, the human body is evolved to survive and function normally without food for a certain period of time, usually certain hours to even days. There are several methods to follow intermittent fasting, but every type involves a specific time of eating and a time for fasting. Some people follow 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting in a day, whereas some people follow 12 hours of eating and 12 hours of fasting. Some even eat regularly for 5 days in a week and the rest two days they undergo fasting. For example, they have fixed days like Thursday and Monday to fast, and the other days to follow their diet normally.
WHAT CAN WE EAT?
The most expected question is what to eat during the eating window and what is permitted during the fasting period. Eating normally during the 8 hours doesn’t mean that you can pack your belly with all high-calorie junk foods, processed or packaged fried items. Be mindful in eating, try to consume home-cooked food that is high in nutritional value, and keep your satiety levels high. You can choose protein-rich foods, nuts, whole grains, fermented foods in the right proportions. A person is allowed to consume both veg and non-veg foods while following intermittent fasting. During the fasting window, only water and zero-calorie drinks are allowed. You cannot even consume raw fruits and vegetables as they also contain some amount of calories, carbohydrates, and sugar.
Thus, consume anything you feel like having except the junk and low in nutrient foods. You will have to take care of the eating timings rather than the food.
HOW DO THEY REALLY WORK?
Before understanding the working of intermittent fasting, you might have noticed that it was easier for people to maintain their body weight a couple of decades ago. People used to be involved in physical work, they would have to use their muscles to earn the bread, their screen times were shorter, they didn’t have much access to entertainment, and used to go to bed before 10 pm or even earlier. With more invasion of technology, MNCs, and entertainment, our lifestyles experienced a paradigm shift where we were introduced to night shift works, desk jobs, jobs that required only cognitive ability, and now we are in the internet age. Everything right from our daily food to the luxury goods are available online, and gradually, we are getting used to it. This shift destroyed the concept of fasting and eating anything at any time as it is made available. Earlier, when everyone was in bed before 10 pm, there was no access to fast food or frozen food items. So, this naturally made people fast for at least 10 to 12 hours, making it easy for them to maintain their body fat and weight.
Intermittent fasting uses the same concept of early living by extending the fasting hours to 16 instead of 12. When food enters the body, the nutrients are broken down as glucose. This glucose keeps supplying energy to our body to carry out our daily routine. When these sugar/glucose levels are exhausted, they start to burn fat to fuel our regular routine, and so our fat percentage comes down. When you keep eating throughout the day, you keep working with the help of the calories intake and your fat sits idle. Also, when you do not work out or indulge in physical activity, the unused glucose levels are further stored as fats and you start gaining weight. Thus, intermittent fasting keeps you going without food for longer hours and ultimately your body has to burn fat.
Now that you have a clear picture of the working of intermittent fasting, it must be clear that not everybody can start this to reduce their body fat percentage. Some people like children under 18 years, athletes, pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, muscle builders, diabetic patients, etc. are advised to consult a lifestyle coach or a doctor before stepping into it.