What does it mean?
Intermittent fasting is an eating style where you eat within a specific time period, and fast the rest of the time. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather WHEN you should eat them. There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting:
- 5:2: You eat normally five days a week. The other two days are your fasting days, although you do still eat but only 500 and 600 calories per day.
- Eat-stop-eat: You restrict all food for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
- 16/8: You eat all of your daily calories within a shortened period, typically 6 to 8 hours, and fast for the remaining 14 to 16 hours. You can do this every day, or a few times a week. This is the most popular way to do intermittent fasting.
But does intermittent fasting work for weight loss?
When you eat fewer meals it usually means you reduce your calorie intake and hence lose weight – unless you compensate by eating much more during the eating periods or indulge in junk food. Additionally, intermittent fasting changes hormone levels to facilitate weight loss: it lowers insulin but increases growth hormone levels as well as the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline). Because of these hormonal changes short-term fasting may increase your metabolic rate. There’s also some evidence that that intermittent fasting can help your body retain muscle mass more effectively than calorie restriction. If you’re following Ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting can help your body enter ketosis faster to maximize results.
Is it a good option for everyone?
If you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, have diabetes, low blood pressure or other health condition, you should consider whether intermittent fasting would be suitable for you. This eating pattern is likely also a bad idea if you’re trying to conceive, are pregnant or breastfeeding. Moreover, there is some evidence that intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for women as it is for men. Some women experience worsened blood sugar control as well as changes in their menstrual cycle.
Tips to get started:
- Start gradually lengthening your fasting period. For many it’s challenging to jump straight away fasting for 16 hours. You might feel very hungry and grumpy and then give up. Give yourself time to experiment and adjust.
- Don’t be overly strict and find a way which is sustainable for you.
- Make sure you drink enough water. You can also have black coffee or any tea.
Article by Suvi Kuparinen