Intermittent fasting is not eating within certain time frames, but does not guide you on what foods to eat or not eat. It helps burn fat more effectively as our body searches for other ways of energy when we're not eating. Common practices include fasting at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast (one of the easier ones as you're sleeping- hopefully- most of the time), or extending it to 16 hours, or even 24 hours twice a week. Food is not allowed, however, non-caloric beverages such as water, tea, or coffee can be consumed.
What are the health benefits?
IF has many health benefits such as:
- Weight loss
- Anti-inflammatory- increases anti-oxidant production
- Improved insulin levels
- Improved brain health
- Reduced risk of certain conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes, Depression, Heart Disease, Cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.
Great! So when can I start?
Whenever you like! Begin with a 12 hour fast is a nice place to begin, and you can work up to going 16 hours, and eating in only an 8 hour time frame, and perhaps even 24 hours.
HOWEVER... Here is when YOU SHOULD NOT go for IF:
- Gender- While 'back in evolutionary times' we were meant to fast, it actually favors men over women as far as who's systems can handle it better.
- Adrenal fatigue - Stressed? Poor sleep? Always on the go? IF (usually if attempting more than a 12 hour fast) can tank your system and make you feel worse in the long run.
- History of, or current eating disorder, or unhealthy relationship around food - At this point health is key, and IF can further add to an unhealthy relationship with food. If you've tried many ways to control eating, and viewing this as the 'way that will change everything', it's not.
- Children or Teenagers - They need to grow. With the proper nutrition and nutrients of course.
- Pregnancy or Breast feeding - Once again, as they need to be in a nutrient rich state, though may be able to tolerate a 12 hour fast between breakfast and dinner.
- Health conditions-
- Diabetics, or those who take insulin
- Those who suffer from kidney, liver, pancreas, or thyroid disease.
- You still want to eat crap - The golden 8 hour window of eating helps maximize metabolism and insulin, but not if it's a whole pizza.
- Running around all day - Chances are you may not have time to sit down and have a meal, and you're literally running around. Please, eat when you're hungry.
Yes, there's a lot of conditions to watch out for, many variations (some not listed here as they tend to be more in depth and advanced), and it's another way to eat food. Such as when a 'superfood' hits the market and that it helps with so many conditions, yet a few months later there's a new 'superfood' with the same benefits. Same thing- these are one of many many ways to lead a healthful lifestyle.