Intermittent fasting is a powerful approach to health that is fast gaining ground among some of the health industry’s biggest gurus (think Dr. Mercola, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Axe). It helps you lose weight and wields a host of additional benefits, but unlike traditional fasting, it doesn’t require you to go hungry or drink soup or juice all day.
So far, scientific studies have shown that ditching the old ‘three meals a day’ approach can boost your health in many ways. Like the Paleo Diet, intermittent fasting is inspired by our ancient ancestors, who, unlike us, did not have a fridge full of food all day and who therefore limited feeding to specific hours of the day.
The regimen isn’t for everyone (pregnant, hypoglycemic or diabetic persons should abstain), but those who get the green light from their doctors might find it useful for weight loss and vitality.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Consume your meals between 12pm and 6pm – that is all it takes. The only other requirement is to shun high-carb foods (which can lead to insulin insensitivity, Type 2 diabetes, and premature skin ageing).
Embrace embrace a Mediterranean-style diet that comprises lean protein sources, green vegetables, nuts, whey protein, and healthy fats (extra-virgin is a classic but do embrace coconut oil and even, suggests Dr. Mercola, butter).
What Benefits Does Intermittent Fasting Wield?
Fasting has been found to normalise a hormone called ghrelin, erstwhile known as the ‘hunger hormone’; the latter increases appetite and weight gain, so levels should be kept low.
Fasting is a great way to do this, since studies show that ghrelin spontaneously decreases after around two hours without food consumption. Ride the wave if you are feeling peckish; it will pass.
Intermittent fasting allows you to escape from the glucose-insulin battle, which occurs when you pick on carb-rich foods all day, essentially shunting large amounts of glucose into the bloodstream.
The pancreas reacts by producing insulin, eventually resulting in insulin resistance. The result is a compromised immune system, accelerated ageing, and an increased likelihood of chronic illness.
Fasting stimulates the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which is essential for brain function, vitality, cell division, DNA repair, bone tissue, muscle mass, and metabolism. High-sugar diets and eating consistently suppresses HGH production, while fasting and avoiding simple carbs boost it.
Fasting has additionally been found to fight inflammation and reduce free radical damage, which is great news for your skin. It has important heart benefits as well, since it lowers specific risks factors by increasing good HDL cholesterol and reducing bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Finally, studies have also shown that intermittent fasting enhances cognitive function and protects against changes in memory and learning.
Other Fasting Options
If the specific time frame mentioned does not work for you, there are other types of intermittent fasting.
You can choose instead to fast on alternate days, limit your eating to eight hours per day, or try the 5:2 diet, which involves eating normally for five days a week and restricting your intake to between 500 and 600 calories per day twice a week.
Another popular option is The Warrior Diet, in which you eat only fruits and veggies at daytime and one large meal at night.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, the key is to choose a method you can follow on a regular basis, without your diet interfering with your daily enjoyment of life or ability to socialise. Soon, it won’t feel like fasting at all and best of all, it will help you shed unwanted weight.
Words Marisa Cutillas