Have you heard the buzz about intermittent fasting? Along with the keto diet, it’s one of the health trends currently circulating through social media and many blogs. In fact, many people are faithfully fasting while swearing off carbs in favor of fat bombs and other ketogenic dietary strategies. If you’re wondering what this fasting is all about, we’re about to help you make the right decision for the needs of your body.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting is going without food for a period of time. You fast every night when you curl up in bed and sleep until morning. Intermittent fasting takes it a step further by extending the fast into daytime hours as a way to restrict calories and enjoy other benefits of fasting.
Here are some fasting terms that you need to know:
- Clean Fast – consuming nothing but water during fasting hours
- Dirty Fast – consuming drinks with zero calories and carbs or sweeteners, milk and other flavor enhancers up to 50 calories per day
- Water Fast – consuming water during fasting hours
- Dry Fast – consuming nothing during the fast, including water
The length of time that you fast depends on which model of intermittent fasting you follow. OMAD stands for “one meal a day” restricts you to one meal each day. Most followers restrict their eating to an “eating window.”
For instance, 20:4 refers to a 20-hour fast and a 4-hour eating period. The 18:6 model is where most people start because it allows an 8-hour feeding period that usually results in simply skipping breakfast and perhaps eating dinner a bit early.
Intermittent Fasting Pros
- You don’t have to think about food as often. Many people appreciate that they can throw themselves into work, family and other responsibilities for a long period of time without stopping for a meal. The less time you spend eating, the more time you have to do other things.
- Many scientific studies have proven that intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss. This is most likely due to the calorie restriction that occurs naturally when meals are confined to a narrow period of time.
- You can restrict calories and lose weight without counting every calorie that you eat or monitoring your macros. If you want a simple weight loss approach, you may find intermittent fasting attractive.
- Fasting is compatible with any diet plan you may want to follow. From low-carb and keto to low-fat or vegetarian, any healthy diet will likely deliver weight loss results.
- Consistent fasting comes with the advantage of autophagy. This is a process in which the body breaks down and consumes damaged or low-quality cells. You can think of it as a form of cannibalism, but it’s really a beneficial process that eliminates your body of diseased and damaged cells naturally.
Intermittent Fasting Cons
- Some people find themselves focusing on food to an unhealthy degree when they deprive themselves of meals for an extended period. That goes away with time for some but becomes an unhealthy distraction for others.
- Some people fear that restricting food in any way will trigger disordered eating, especially for people with a history of anorexia, binge eating or bulimia. This may prove true for some people, but research has shown that fasting doesn’t enhance the fear of fatness, purging or other disordered tendencies for most people. It’s still something to keep in mind if your medical history includes an eating disorder.
Are You Ready to Fast?
If you want to give intermittent fasting a try, pick a model that fits your lifestyle and personal needs. Many people start with an 8-hour feeding window because it’s the closest to the three-meal-a-day plan that most people are used to following. You can start closing your window earlier to find the exact ration that works best for your lifestyle.