Intermittent Fasting Schedules – In today’s world, one of the most famous health and fitness trends is Intermittent fasting. This method is being employed by many to lose weight, boost their health, and simplify their lifestyles.
Several studies show that this method has a powerful effect on the body and brain and is likely to help you live longer and enjoy health.
The question you likely have is what is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. There is no specific food you should eat during this time, rather it specifies when you should eat these foods.
Therefore, intermittent fasting is an unconventional way to diet and so is best described as an eating pattern. The most popular intermittent fasting schedules involve fasting for 16 hours daily or for 24 hours twice weekly.
Throughout different human evolutions, fasting has been a consistent practice. Humans have over time evolved to be able to function adequately without food for an extended period of time.
Hence, fasting from time to time has been a natural phenomenon than eating itself. Also, fasting is done for spiritual and religious purposes in different religious circles like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism.
Keep reading this article for the best ways to try intermittent fasting.
How Intermittent Fasting Affects Your Cells and Hormones
During fasting, many things are going on in your body on both cellular and molecular levels. For instance, while fasting, your body adjusts its hormonal levels to make already stored fat accessible for body use.
Your cells also begin a vital repair process that initiates a change in the expression of genes. The following are other changes that happen in your body when you fast:
- Insulin: While fasting, the level of insulin sensitivity improves while the level of insulin drops at a rapid rate. A lower level of insulin ensures that the body can make use of already stored body fat more accessible for use.
- Cellular Repair: When sticking to an intermittent fasting schedule, your cells start a cellular repair process that includes autophagy. This is where cells digest and old and dysfunctional protein build up inside cells are removed.
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): While doing intermittent fasting schedules, the rate of growth hormones increase speedily. The increase may be up to a 5-fold and this means more fat loss and muscle gain.
- Gene expression: Intermittent causes changes in the functionality of genes that are responsible for longevity and disease protection.
The above changes and more are responsible for the many health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Several studies into the practice of intermittent fasting in both human and animals show that it has potent benefits for total body and brain health, including weight loss. It has also been shown that fasting intermittently may help you live longer.
The following are other benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Boosts Weight Loss: With intermittent fasting, you get to lose weight and excess body fat without a conscious restriction on the number of calories you consume. This is because your body gets to consume the excess fat stored away while fasting.
- Reduced Inflammation: Other studies prove that fasting causes a reduction in inflammation triggers which is a major cause of several chronic ailments.
- Insulin: Some studies have shown that fasting causes a reduction in insulin resistance. It also lowers blood sugar by at least 3-6% and insulin levels by 20-31%. This protects the body against type 2 diabetes.
- Improved Heart Health: Since intermittent fasting causes a reduction in inflammatory markers, blood sugar, insulin, blood triglycerides, and bad LDL cholesterols, you are less likely to suffer heart disease; since all of these are causes of heart disease.
- Longevity: Studies in animals have shown that intermittent fasting increased their lifespan for between 36-83% longer.
- Cancer: Animal studies opine that intermittent fasting may possibly ward off cancer.
- Brain Health: With intermittent fasting, the brain hormone, BDNF, increases and it may also boost the growth of new nerve cells. Fasting may also shield from Alzheimer’s disease.
Note: It is important to emphasize that researches into the benefits of intermittent fasting are in the early stages. Some of these researches have only been carried out on animal test subjects and so many questions are yet unanswered in quality human researches.
Safety and Side Effects of Fasting Intermittently
The major side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger, and this poses no real health hazard.
However, you may feel weak and your brain may not perform as it used to. This is only temporary and will change once your body gets used to your new intermittent fasting schedule.
People with medical conditions should seek doctor’s advice before doing intermittent fasting. This is especially vital for the following persons:
- Those who are diabetic
- suffer low blood pressure
- are on medication
- have problems with blood sugar regulation
- have a history of eating disorder
- are underweight
- women trying to conceive
- Women with a history of amenorrhea
- pregnant or lactating mothers.
However, if you are healthy and well-nourished, there is no danger in trying intermittent fasting.
5 Best Intermittent Fasting Schedules For Losing Weight
Truly, intermittent fasting has been popular in recent times.
Studies have postulated that it is effective for losing weight, improving metabolic health, and increasing longevity.
It is perhaps trendy because of the many schedules for doing it that have been formed over time. Although all methods can be effective, the best method depends on the individual.
Here are 5 of the best intermittent fasting scheduled to lose weight fast.
1. 24 Hours Weekly Fast
Also known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, abstaining from food completely for a day or two in the week means you won’t eat for a 24-hour stretch. Most people do this from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner.
If you are doing this diet, you can drink tea, water, or other calorie-free drink of your choice.
After the 24-hour period, you can now go back to your normal eating patterns on the days you are not fasting. Following this pattern ensures that you lose total body calories without placing a limit on the kind of food you can get.
Although a 24-hour fast can start out challenging and you may suffer fatigue, irritability, and headache, these effects become less adverse as the body adjusts over time to the new eating pattern.
You can try doing other smaller fast hours before doing the 24-hour fast.
2. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
Even without following a preset intermittent fasting plan, it is possible to reap the diverse benefits of fasting. This is possible when you skip meals from time to time because you are too busy to cook or you are not hungry.
The human body is equipped to handle long periods of going without food without hitting the mythical ‘starvation mode’ or losing muscles. So, skipping meals really have no adverse effects on the body.
So, if there is a time you are not hungry or would rather not eat, it’s okay to skip the meal and just eat the nest time. If you are also traveling and can’t get anything to eat, simply do a short fast.
Basically, not eating 1 or 2 meals when you don’t feel up to it is spontaneous intermittent fasting. Only make sure that you eat healthy foods afterward.
3. Alternate Day Fasting
Simply put, alternate fasting is doing a fast every other day. It is a great intermittent fasting schedule for those who are used to fasting. Many lab studies show that this method holds diverse health benefits when used by different people.
Doing this plan means that you do not eat at all for a given period or you only eat a few hundred calories during this time. It also means that you will go to bed hungry several times on alternate days.
This may not be sustainable over a long period of time and you might find it unpleasant.
A study shows that alternate day fasting is potent for losing weight and heart health in healthy or overweight adults.
The study found that all 32 participants lost about 11 pounds or an average of 5.2 kilograms over a 12-week window.
4. The 5:2 Diet
This diet entails eating for 5 days of the week and restricting the diet on the remaining two days to not more than 600 calories.
Also called the fast diet, it was made famous by British journalist and doctor Michael Mosley. He recommended that on fast days, women and men should not eat more than 500 and 600 calories respectively.
For instance, you can eat normally on all days except Tuesdays and Thursdays, where you only eat small meal portions.
Although critics point out that there are no studies primarily on the 5:2 diet, there are many other studies that prove the lasting benefits of intermittent fasting.
5. The Warrior Diet
This is an extreme form of dieting that involves eating a very small serving of food.
While doing this type of fasting, you are only going to be eating a few servings of fruits and vegetable, during a 20-hour fasting window. After which you eat one large meal at night within a 4-hour window.
Hence, this style of fasting is best for people who already doing other intermittent fasting schedules.
During the 4-hour eating window, make sure you eat enough vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and some carbohydrates.
While it may be difficult to stick to a particular eating guideline in the long term, it is still possible to eat some foods during the fasting period. Eating that close to bedtime can also prove to be a challenge for many people.
An added risk that comes with the warrior diet is that people sticking to this diet do not eat enough fiber. This may cause an increase in the risk of cancer and may have an adverse effect on immune and digestive health.
There is no single way to do intermittent fasting as its effect depends on the individual. Various schedules will have various effects on different people.
No matter the type you try, bear in mind that fasting for an extended period of time while the body is unprepared can be harmful to the body.
Also, people with the above listed medical conditions should avoid doing intermittent fasting. This may further worsen their reaction to unhealthy foods. It is advisable that anyone considering doing this diet plan should talk to a doctor before starting.
For best results, remember to eat healthily and balanced diet on non-fasting days.