Intermittent Fasting: Benefits and Methods
Recently a health trend called Intermittent Fasting has begun topping the charts in popularity. People are using Intermittent Fasting to lose weight, improve their health, increase brain function, and to simplify their lives. Its popularity is likely at least in part due to the fact that it is easier to sustain in a busy lifestyle than most “diets.”
Many benefits are confirmed by studies with people using this plan. Intermittent Fasting will reduce obesity and protect against diabetes. It has been shown to protect nerve cells from degeneration. A 2009 study found that elderly adults had improved memory recall after three months of reduced caloric intake. It has also been shown to improve depression and other mood disorders, reduce cholesterol, slow the progression of some cancers, and reduce insulin resistance.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The concept behind Intermittent Fasting is that you eat during a specified time period and then fast the rest of the time. Intermittent Fasting can be done in several different ways.
One popular method is the 16/8 Method. This means that you fast for 16 hours and then eat only during an 8-hour window of each day. For example, skip breakfast (except for coffee or tea without cream or sugar). Then eat only during an eight hour window later in the day, such as between noon and 8:00 p.m. or 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
The 5:2 Diet consists of eating only 500 – 600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and then eating normally the other five.
A third method is the Eat – Stop – Eat Method. With this choice, you pick one or two non-consecutive days (24-hour periods) per week to fast. You then eat normally the other days.
Who Should Not Use Intermittent Fasting?
As always, consult your medical professional before beginning any diet. With Intermittent Fasting, this is especially true if any of these apply to you:
- Have diabetes or issues with regulating blood sugar levels
- Have a history of eating disorders
- Are trying to conceive
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Have amenorhhea
- Have low blood pressure
- Are taking any medications
The primary goal of Intermittent Fasting is not usually weight loss. However, since you are reducing caloric intake, weight loss should occur as long as you do not overeat on the days when you are not fasting. Usually the weight that you do lose is belly fat—the kind that grows around your organs and causes disease–so that is a big bonus.
Any of these three methods will produce positive health benefits. Most people, however, find that the 16/8 method is the easiest to sustain over long periods of time and is the least intrusive into their lifestyles. If you have tried one of these plans, leave a comment and let us know how it went for you. We’d love to hear from you!
*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional. Please consult your chiropractor or physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.