Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the most famous fitness and health trends in the world. There has been a lot of research done about it on fat rats that showed the animals have lost weight, and their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels improved.
Meanwhile, human studies have shown that it is safe and effective but not better than other types of diet. Some people may even find it challenging to fast. But there is a way to make it more realistic, sustainable, and effective.
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Is Intermittent Fasting Good for Weight Loss? Study Shows Timing Is Key to Make It Realistic, Sustainable, Effective
Methods in Doing Intermittent Fasting
Healthline defines intermittent fasting as an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting that does not specify the type of foods a person should eat but instead focuses on when they should eat.
There are several ways to do intermittent fasting, but all of them involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting, which is a time when they either eat very little or nothing at all.
For instance, the Leangains protocol involves skipping breakfast and only eats in a period of eight hours, such as between 1 pm to 9 pm, then fast for 16 hours. It is the most popular method as it is the simplest, most sustainable, and easiest to stick to.
Another method is the Eat-Stop-Eat, which involves fasting for 24 hours for once or twice a week. For example, someone who follows this can fast from one dinner to dinner the next day.
The third method is the 5:2 diet, wherein a person can only consume 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days within a week. But for the rest of the week, they can eat normally.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Help in Weight Loss
According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, intermittent fasting can help in weight loss. When food enters the gut, it gets broken down into molecules that enter the bloodstream.
For example, carbohydrates or refined grains are quickly broken down into sugars that the cells use for energy. If left unused, it is stored as fat cells by insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas.
Insulin levels go down between meals as long as a person does not take any snacks. When insulin levels are down, fats cells can then release stored sugar and triggers weight loss. The concept behind intermittent fasting is to allow insulin levels to go down long enough to burn off the fat.
Changing the Timing of Meals Help
Humans have evolved to sync with a day and night cycle, which means the metabolism also adapted to daytime food and nighttime sleep. Those who practice nighttime eating have a higher risk of obesity and diabetes.
A 2018 study by researchers from the University of Alabama, titled “Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes” published in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that early time-restricted feeding improves cardiometabolic health and that changing the timing of meals benefited metabolism even in people who did lose a single pound.
An in-depth review of intermittent fasting showed that fasting is embedded within humans’ physiology and could trigger essential cellular functions that do more than burn calories and lose weight. It improves the prognosis of several health issues and helps clear out toxins and damaged cells to lower the risk of developing life-threatening diseases.
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