Humans have practiced intermittent fasting for times unknown. It is also part of various religious practices like fasting during lent in Christianity or Ramadan in Islam. Somehow our ancestors noticed that taking short breaks from food now and then is good for health.
There are many ways in which intermittent fasting works. Like prolonged intervals between the meals help burn accumulated fat. In addition, it resets the body’s metabolism, stimulating it. Intermittent fasting may also help break the habit of frequent munching.
It is not a quick fix to your health problems caused by obesity. However, if you practice for long enough, your body will let you know that it is working in many ways.
Gradually, you will stop feeling hungry most of the time. In addition, most people can expect to experience a reduction in body fat, improved gut health, higher energy levels, enhanced mood, and more.
Intermittent fasting is more about changing your relationship with food, and it is less about dieting. It is not about starving your body for long.
How to Start an Intermittent Fasting Program
The good thing about intermittent fasting is that it is pretty flexible, and there are many ways of getting started. This makes it highly sustainable. It means that once you have mastered the art of intermittent fasting, you can practice it regularly for years or even a lifetime.
There are many ways of getting started with intermittent fasting, and there are no hard and fast rules. However, it should be practiced for long enough for it to work. Thus, choose a way of intermittent fasting that may fit into your lifestyle, and you can stick to it for long enough.
Here are some of the simple ways of getting started with intermittent fasting:
Restrict Eating Time
It is the most straightforward approach in which you do not eat for 12 hours or more during 24 hours. It is a most beginner-friendly approach. For example, you can get started with the 12:12 regime, which means that you have healthy food for 12 hours, and it is followed by 12 hours of fasting. Since you sleep for 7-8 hours, it is pretty simple to follow. Like you start fasting at 7 pm and do not eat till 7 am the next day.
Of course, 12:12 is pretty simple and may not work for all. Thus, slowly you can increase the fasting time and make it 14:10 or even 16:8, which means that you fast for 14 or 16 hours. 16:8 is quite a popular format as it helps pretty well with weight loss.
If you dislike fasting daily, then this might be the right choice for you. In this method, a person eats as usual for five days but restricts calorie intake for two days a week. For example, one may limit calorie intake to 500-600 calories on those two days. Thus, for example, one may have a few snacks like a portion of fruits, a healthy salad, and a meal replacement shake to limit calories on fasting days.
Eat Stop Eat
It is a relatively challenging way of intermittent fasting. In this method, you have a usual diet for six days a week, but you do not eat once a week for a period of 24 hours.
It is for those looking for quick results, but perhaps it is too harsh. Fasting every alternating day is not sustainable for long. Such a strategy may work for a short time, like no more than three months. Continuous practice of such kind of intermittent fasting may increase the risk of nutritional deficiencies. However, one may eliminate the risk of dietary deficiencies by consuming a meal replacement shake along with some snacks on a fasting day.
This is not a complete list of ways of intermittent fasting. There are many other ways, too. Generally, intermittent fasting is good for weight loss and preventing metabolic disorders. However, very stringent intermittent fasting must be avoided as it may somewhat increase the risk of certain health disorders.
Common Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a very flexible way of fasting. It is not about starving but rather normalizing eating habits. Thus, it is only likely to cause side effects if done wrong or if one starts with something very stringent regime. For example, side effects are more likely to occur if one begins with alternate-day fasting and consumes very few calories on fasting days, like below 500 calories.
Therefore, if you notice any of the signs and symptoms mentioned below, it is perhaps a reason to make changes or increase calorie intake, and even better, consider a nutrition-packed meal replacement shake at least once daily.
It is pretty likely that intermittent fasting may not fit into your lifestyle, especially if you work in shifts. It may also cause fatigue, irritability, headaches, and mood swings in the initial stages. In addition, some individuals may experience digestive issues, which may be due to a low intake of dietary fiber. Finally, it may also cause sleep disturbances and malnutrition in the long run.
Here it is vital to understand that most of these adverse effects occur due to dietary imbalances caused by fasting. Therefore, one of the ways to prevent these issues is to include a nutrition-packed meal replacement shake in a daily regime. This will also help prevent nutritional deficiencies in the long run.
How Long to See Results with Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not for fast results or quick weight loss, which may be bad for health. Instead, it is about sustainable lifestyle change. That is why one should not start with some highly aggressive plan. Instead, the focus should be on the long-term health benefits.
Generally, one can expect to see results in a month. However, if you do not see results in 12-weeks, it means you are not doing enough or doing it in an improper way.
Expert’s View on Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
Experts think that intermittent fasting helps both due to weight loss and switching the body to ketones for energy needs. This metabolic switching is especially good for preventing various chronic health conditions.
Intermittent fasting is good for cardiovascular health, helping reduce bad cholesterol, minimizing the risk of atherosclerosis, and reducing systemic inflammation. It also appears to help lower blood pressure.
Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting are seen in obese individuals, too, as it helps lower body weight. In addition, it is suitable for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.
However, people living with severe diabetes and hormonal imbalances must be careful when starting such interventions.
Intermittent fasting is one of the better ways of achieving optimal health. It is relatively simple to get started with intermittent fasting, unlike switching to some popular diet forms. Moreover, it is a highly sustainable lifestyle choice. However, any dietary shift must be made by keeping safety in mind. One of the ways to practice intermittent fasting safely is to include meal replacement shakes into your daily regime.