Intermittent fasting is a weight loss method in which periods of eating and fasting are alternately implemented. During the eating period, you can consume allowed foods and a certain amount of calories, while in fasting, there is a restriction on food and calorie intake, and it usually lasts longer than the eating period.
In fasting, the main idea is to provide time for the body to rest and regenerate and to allow the body to access stored fat sources and use them as a fuel source for energy. The fasting diet not only helps to lose weight, but it can also help to improve general health and blood sugar control, improve the body’s inflammatory state, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and improve brain function.
What is fasting?
One of the primary reasons many people turn to fasting is its effectiveness in aiding weight loss and improving metabolic health. By reducing the eating window and extending the fasting period, the body shifts from relying on readily available glucose to tapping into stored fat as an energy source.
Generally, Fasting is avoiding consuming food for specific periods, which can be done differently.
During a fast, individuals restrict their calorie intake or altogether avoid food and drink for a set duration.
If you use fasting as a weight loss strategy, it can create a calorie deficit and promote fat burning.
It is important to note that fasting may not be suitable for everyone, and individuals should consult with a nutritionist before starting any fasting diet.
Types of intermittent fasting
Fasting is divided into different types according to the needs and preferences of each person. Read on to find out about the type of different ways to do intermittent fasting.
In this diet, you are only allowed to eat during 8 hours of the day, and in the remaining 16 hours (for example, from 8 pm to 12 pm), you limit or restrict food intake. This diet usually includes skipping breakfast and eating an early dinner.
In this diet, you eat five days a week as usual and reduce your calorie intake on two days of the week. On calorie restriction days, you typically limit your calorie intake to 500-600 calories daily.
One-day or 24-hour fasting
In this diet, you stop eating on the day you want to fast and drink only liquids such as water, calorie-free drinks, and tea or coffee without sugar. You should fast for 1 to 2 days a week in this method. For example, you will not eat anything for 24 hours, from dinner one day to dinner the next.
OMAD means “one meal a day.” In this diet, you have to eat only one meal during the day, and the rest of the time, you avoid eating for the whole day.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Recent research shows that intermittent fasting as a nutritional pattern can benefit health and improve some health indicators. Below are some of the benefits of fasting:
Fasting can reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss. By limiting the eating window or reducing overall caloric intake, fasting can promote fat burning and may be an effective weight management strategy.
Improves insulin sensitivity
Fasting improves insulin sensitivity, essential for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. It can help regulate insulin production and reduce the risk of insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Improve heart health
Intermittent fasting may help improve heart health. Losing weight, lowering blood pressure, and improving low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and inflammation levels reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as cardiovascular disease and heart attack.
Some studies suggest that fasting may help reduce inflammation. Chronic inflammation is linked to various health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Improve sleep quality
A fasting diet can help improve sleep quality. By adjusting the time of eating and fasting, the amount of melatonin (sleep hormone) changes and adapts to the body clock, improving sleep quality.
Improving brain function
Intermittent fasting can help improve brain function. Some studies show that fasting can strengthen memory and neural networks.
How to do intermittent fasting?
Starting a fasting diet can be challenging for some people. In the following, I will provide you with a guide for starting a fasting diet:
- Consult a nutritionist: Before starting any diet, consulting a nutritionist can be very helpful. They can assess your needs and adjust a special diet based on your body condition.
- Choosing the proper diet: It is necessary to check the types of fasting diets and choose the most suitable ones. For example, fasting 16:8, Fasting 5:2, or Fasting OMAD. It is recommended to start with a diet that your body can adapt to.
- Start slowly: It is best to introduce the fasting diet slowly and over a long period of time. For example, on the 16:8 diet, you can gradually reduce your eating time.
- Drink water: Drink water and calorie-free drinks during fasting periods. You can drink water, calorie-free drinks, sugar-free tea or coffee, and juices without added sugar.
- Paying attention to proper nutrition: During the periods you can eat, consuming the nutrients the body needs is necessary. Eat foods that contain enough protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
- Taking care of general health: Adequate rest, regular physical activity, stress management, sleep care, and long-term nutritional supplements can help you succeed in the diet.
In case of discomfort or unpleasant symptoms, it is better to stop the diet and consult your doctor.
Useful food for fasting
Choosing foods with high nutritional value during eating periods is very important. Here are some examples of foods suitable for fasting:
- Fruits and vegetables: Include low-calorie and high-fiber fruits and vegetables in your diet. Fresh fruits such as apples, dates, watermelons, oranges, and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, etc., are suitable for providing nutrients.
- Fish and protein sources: Fish such as salmon, eggs, chicken, lean meat, and white fish can be excellent protein sources.
- Nuts: Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts are healthy sources of monounsaturated fats and omega-3 during fasting.
- Low-fat dairy products: Low-fat and high-protein dairy products such as buttermilk, yogurt, and cheese are suitable for fasting.
- Whole grains: Whole grains such as brown rice, whole-wheat bread, chickpeas, and quinoa are rich in nutrients and fiber, helping you feel fuller for longer.
- Water and calorie-free drinks: Drink enough water during fasting periods. You can also drink calorie-free drinks such as green tea, sugar-free coffee, and sugar-free juices.