Fasting is not an unusual thing for people. People fast everyday during their sleep. That is why breakfast is called what it is because when people eat first thing after being asleep it is a “break” in the “fast”.
Fasting has been around for thousands of years. In certain religions fasting is a common practice as well. The human body is actually well equipped to deal with not eating food for an extended amount of time. Also, when illness occurs in the body the natural response is to not want to consume food. So, fasting is quite common. Numerous processes in the body change when we don't eat for a while, in order to allow our bodies to thrive during a period of famine. It has to do with increase in growth hormones, genes and important cellular repair processes.
In recent years intermittent fasting has become very popular in the fitness and weight loss community. Studies have shown that fasting for an extended amount of time, past the fasting that occurs during sleep and then eating can actually help lose weight and much more. Intermittent fasting is basically breaking up the day and week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Three of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting are:
- The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don't eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
- The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.
When it comes to intermittent fasting, the type of foods eaten are not discussed as much as when to eat and not to eat. This has raised some eye brows amongst some critics because the lack of healthy eating habits that can evolve from such a weight loss method and the bad foods that can be consumed which can lead to other health issues.
On the contrary, intermittent fasting research has shown that it can help protect against certain diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s. So, people have gone as far as saying that intermittent fasting will actually help you live longer. Also, intermittent fasting is popular because it is simply a convenient way to manage one’s diet. Seen as somewhat of a “life hack”, intermittent fasting saves time, reduces the stresses of what to eat and when, and helps add years to one’s life.
The only sure-fire way to see if intermittent fasting is effective is to try it out for yourself. Pick one of the 3 popular methods up above and give them a shot.