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What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a dietary method that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. A key feature of this approach is that you do not restrict what you eat. Instead, you have to focus on eating during specific time windows.
How Can You Practice Intermittent Fasting?
An example of intermittent fasting is the 16:8 method. In this approach, you fast for sixteen hours uninterrupted. Then, you can eat as much as you want to in the following eight hours.
Besides the 16:8 approach, you can also opt for the 5:2 method. In this version, you can intake a maximum of 600 calories for two nonconsecutive days. Meanwhile, you can eat normally for the other five days of the week.
In another version, you can go a whole day without eating. Then, the following day, you can eat your fill for 24 hours. This style is recommended only twice per week.
Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Here are some of the top benefits that intermittent fasting provides:
- Helps with Weight Loss
It is no secret that the amount of food you eat significantly impacts your weight. Typically, intermittent fasting helps to ensure that you are in a calorie deficit.
A study also shows that this dietary technique can help you reduce your body mass index. The fasting method also improves glucose metabolism and helps you burn more fat.
- Helps with Insulin Resistance
A key feature of intermittent fasting is that it reduces insulin resistance in your body. Insulin is a hormone in our bodies that helps control blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, it also promotes the storage of glucose as fat. When we eat, the insulin levels in the body can rise and cause resistance. However, when you perform intermittent fasting, the opposite happens, and insulin resistance decreases.
The decrease in resistance is mainly helpful for people with diabetes as it allows one to control blood sugar levels better. Besides that, it also assists with further weight loss as less fat is stored.
- Improves Cardiac Health
Intermittent fasting can help improve your heart health significantly and make recovery from a heart attack easier, as animal studies have suggested.
Besides that, research trials also show that intermittent fasting reduces the risk of heart diseases. The dietary approach reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in your blood.
The reduction in calorie intake also helps your body maintain a uniform heart rate. Not only that, but your blood pressure can remain stable for longer because of intermittent fasting.
Risks Of Intermittent Fasting
Here are the risks of intermittent fasting that you should consider before making a decision:
It is no secret that hours of fasting can elevate your hunger and food cravings. The reduction in calories will cause you to feel hungrier throughout the day. This can distract you from doing your daily activities.
However, you should note that the hunger issues resolve after some time of regular intermittent fasting. Your body adapts to the new diet and helps you sustain it. Some studies also show that hunger is only an issue during the first few days of fasting.
This is a common risk that comes with intermittent fasting. Not eating for a more extended period can cause your blood sugar level to become lower than normal. Thus, you may feel lightheaded or suffer from headaches while fasting.
A key thing to remember is that you should consult your doctor before starting the diet, especially if you have a medical condition to consider.
Besides that, people who experience weakness frequently also face headaches during fasting. Sometimes the issue can resolve within the first few days of fasting. However, it can also continue to be a trouble for you.
- Weight Gain
Intermittent fasting is effective for helping you lose weight as long as you maintain your calorie intake. However, many times you may not be able to do that. This is because the approach can cause you to shift towards binging behaviors.
For example, you may fast for 16 hours but overeat during the 8 hours because of cravings. In such cases, you are more likely to gain weight rather than lose it.
However, this issue is controllable if you can maintain a calorie deficit and not resort to binge eating. Of course, if you cannot keep your hunger in control, you should avoid intermittent fasting.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?
Whether intermittent fasting is suitable for you depends on various factors such as your age, medical history, and much more. If you are a healthy adult, this dietary method can help you improve your health. However, you must ensure that you do not suffer from weakness issues. A key thing to note is that intermittent fasting comes with various risks. However, most of them are controllable, and you can manage them with the support of a doctor or medical professional.