If we try to explain intermittent fasting in the simplest of ways, it should be said that ‘it is a dietary strategy of not eating anything for a set period’.
But, what exactly is Intermittent Fasting?
First of all, to understand Intermittent Fasting, you need to know that it is not starving. Where starving is involuntary, meaning something forced upon by circumstances, fasting is voluntary, deliberate, and well-controlled. Food is there for us, but we choose not to eat voluntarily.
Fasting is a common voluntary practice in our Indian custom. Intermittent fasting is restricting food intake for a set period and eating regular food the rest of the time, as per our meal timings. It is done for improving health. The two of the most common ways of intermittent fasting are Daily `16 hours fasting and fasting for a whole day, once or twice a week.
Intermittent Fasting is a planned process that has the potential to help improve various health aspects from longevity to aging to weight loss and body composition. The idea is to have more time fasting, with lesser meal frequencies as compared to normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
What are the benefits of fasting or Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting in our custom has a lot more to do with the declaration of faith. Intermittent Fasting has been a hot topic in recent years that looks beyond faith. Here is a small review of the major health benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
- Have positive effects on the Brain: Intermittent fasting can help the brain stay healthy and recover quickly. Reduced inflammation and reduction in blood sugar help the brain stay focus and alert. It can also delay the onset of any degenerative disease along with the occurrence of diseases that can affect the brain like Alzheimer’s.
- It helps reducing weight: Intermittent Fasting is more of a lifestyle change and slow-burning diet particularly when we eat normal food for 5 days and fast for two days a week. This helps in weight loss.
- Helps control Blood Pressure, Insulin & Cholesterol: Fasting reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, which in turn helps break down body fats and boost energy levels. Fasting for a few days and then weeks, the old cell regenerates and protects us from various diseases.
- Promotes Heart Health: High blood glucose can damage the nerves and blood vessels of the heart. With lowering blood glucose levels with intermittent fasting, the risk of heart diseases and stroke also reduces.
What we believed wrong?
- We should eat three or more meals a day
We believe and follow the system of eating three or more meals a day. This concept is an adaptation from the early settlers of modern society. It has nothing to do with the improvement of health. Not only this 3-meal a day lacks any scientific support, but studies also confirm that fewer meals and more fasting periods are optimal for human health. One meal a day with the same amount of calories as in 3-meals a day is much better for weight loss and body composition.
- Breakfast is a must. It is the most important meal of the day
We have been flooded with theories that breakfast is a must. It helps kick-starts our metabolism and reduces food intake during the day. But studies conducted with intermittent fasting confirms that not having breakfast reduces the metabolism nor does it makes us eat more during the day. It is easier to eat a late breakfast or even skip it.
What happens when we fast?
Normally the process of using and storing energy as we eat goes in the opposite direction when you fast. With dropping insulin levels with fasting, the body starts to use the stored energy. The glucose that is stored in the liver is fast used and the stored fat in the body is broken down to suffice the need for energy, promoting weight loss.
With intermittent fasting, the body sees two states – the high insulin state when fed and low insulin state when fasting. It means that you are either storing food energy or burning the stored energy. If fasting and eating are balanced, there will be no weight gain.
Though Intermittent Fasting is a new way of looking at nutrition and diet, there are clear health benefits of it. Try it and find the difference yourself…