Have you always wanted to try the occasional post? Well, here is some good news, as some types of this diet can improve your metabolism.
Intermittent fasting or IF, as is commonly known, has become a buzzword in the world of health and fitness. However, there are so many people who are still skeptical to give it a try. Eliminate these concerns, as several randomized trials reveal how beneficial this method is for reducing weight and boosting metabolism and cardiovascular health.
A review titled Intermitent Fasting and Obesity-Related Health Outcomes, published in JAMA magazine, found that occasional fasting is associated with weight loss and improved metabolic and cardiovascular health. In addition, some types of occasional fasting have been found to be more beneficial when it comes to weight loss.
Before we delve into these details, let’s first understand what occasional fasting really includes. We are assisted by Parul Malhotra Bahl, a nutritionist, certified diabetes educator and founder of Diet Expression, who shares more with HealthShots.
What is occasional fasting and how does it work?
Most of us are already aware that fasting has been a practice followed in different cultures for a healthy lifestyle. However, it is important to understand the difference between fasting and starvation. Bahl explains: “Fasting is very different from hunger. Starvation is the involuntary (uncontrolled) absence of food, while fasting is the voluntary (controlled) abstinence from food.
This is exactly the principle around which occasional fasting revolves. It’s about abstaining in whole or in part from food for a period of time before you start eating regularly again, he says.
The food we eat is broken down in our gut and eventually ends up in the form of molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates (sugar, white flour, rice, etc.), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t consume everything, we store it in fat cells as fat.
“Sugar can only enter our cells with the help of a hormone called insulin. Insulin takes sugar into fat cells and stores it there. During meals, until we snack, insulin levels can drop and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, which they use as energy. So the longer we don’t eat, the more stored sugar in the form of fat will be released and consumed, ”explains Bahl.
What are the benefits of occasional fasting?
Fasting is the most effective and consistent strategy for lowering insulin levels. As the body switches to storing stored fat for energy during fasting, it helps in weight loss (fat).
Numerous studies have explained how simple fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar, Bahl says. Occasional fasting reduces inflammation, which improves a range of health problems, from arthritis pain to asthma, and even helps cleanse toxins and damaged cells, reducing the risk of cancer and improving brain function.
What are some types of occasional fasting?
Bahl shares details of the various methods of occasional fasting.
1. 16-hour fast (time-limited eating)
This is the 16: 8 fasting method, in which you fast for 16 hours and eat for the remaining eight hours of the day. During fasting it is allowed to drink only water or any beverage without calories. It is important to know when and what to eat during the eating window. The best are two to three meals (2 main ones with a small snack in between) that are high in fiber, protein and good fats.
This is the most comfortable form of occasional fasting (especially for beginners) and can be easily maintained for a long time.
2. Alternate daily fast
Alternate daily fasting means that people end up avoiding solid foods or limiting themselves to 500 calories a day every other day.
“Alternating daily fasting is a rather extreme form of occasional fasting and may not be suitable for people who have never fasted or those with certain health problems. It may be difficult to maintain this type of fast in the long run, ”says Bahl.
3. Weekly 24-hour fast
This pattern of occasional fasting, also known as the Eat-Stop-Eat diet, involves 24 hours without eating. Many people fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch.
“People with this diet plan can enjoy water and other calorie-free drinks during fasting. On days when you are not fasting, you can eat according to the usual pattern. Eating in this way reduces a person’s total calorie intake, but does not limit the specific foods that an individual consumes, ”explains Bahl.
24-hour fasting can be quite demanding as it can cause fatigue, headaches or irritability. After a while, people can get used to this new eating pattern and start seeing the benefits.
4. Warrior diet
This is a relatively extreme form of occasional fasting.
The warrior diet includes very little food; just a few servings of raw fruits and vegetables in a 20-hour fast and then one big meal at night. The feeding window is usually only about 4 hours.
“Although it is possible to eat some food during fasting, it is difficult to adhere to strict guidelines on when and what to eat in the long run. Some people have trouble eating such a large meal just before bedtime. There is also a risk that people on this diet will not consume enough nutrients such as fiber, ”says Bahl.
5. Fasting 2 days a week
This is a 5: 2 diet, in which people eat normal, healthy food for five days out of seven days a week, and reduce their calorie intake for the other two days. During two fasting days, men consume about 600 calories and women 500 calories. There should usually be at least 1 day between two days of fasting.
According to the JAMA review, both altered replacement fasting and a 5: 2 diet can be an effective means of reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides. In addition, these diets can help prevent type 2 diabetes by lowering insulin resistance and fasting insulin.
In addition, a modified replacement diet on an empty stomach and a 5: 2 diet resulted in weight loss of more than 5 percent in overweight or obese people.
While occasional fasting can be helpful, Bahl says it is not safe for pregnant women, children, people at risk for hypoglycemia, or who have a history of eating disorders and chronic illness.
Also a much-needed word of caution, ladies! “Always consult your doctor or nutritionist before opting for occasional fasting,” Bahl concludes.