How To Start Intermittent Fasting - A Beginner’s Guide

How To Start Intermittent Fasting - A Beginner’s Guide

You might have noticed a lot of people talking about Intermittent Fasting lately, and if you have, you’re not alone. This pattern of eating and new trending diet might seem like a new fad, but it’s got a background that might surprise you. Intermittent Fasting has been around for centuries in one form or another. Many ancient civilizations practiced fasting out of necessity due to the scarcity of food before we became a primarily agrarian society.

As people developed more effective and sustainable ways to produce food by farming and storage, Intermittent Fasting became a common treatment for certain diseases. Many religions supported longer periods of Intermittent Fasting as ways to help support faith healing, demonstrate self-control, or even pay penance. While the majority of today’s Intermittent Fasting trend is done for a commitment to health rather than to faith, it still has converts all over the world, and those numbers are growing. When done responsibly, Intermittent Fasting is a great addition to any health regimen and has some great benefits.

What Is It?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is precisely what it sounds like, eliminating all food sources for predetermined and extended periods of time. The period of fasting can vary depending on someone’s tolerance for fasting, but fasting is usually conducted for durations of 16 to 48 hours.  Regular eating resumes after the fasting period until the next established fasting period arrives.

Most people fast naturally during the night when they are sleeping. Breaking their fast in the morning with Breakfast, hence the name. Intermittent Fasting is intended to last longer than the natural nighttime fasting because studies have shown that the body must go without food for more than 12 hours in order to enter the fat burning state.

Water, coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed during the fast, but no solid food.

The Benefits

According to research from several studies, fasting can have positive benefits on both the body and the nervous system.

Weight Loss

Fasting is one of the quickest ways to drain your body of its excess reserves of glucose, the body's primary source of fuel. When your body runs out of glucose, it will switch over to burning fat as a fuel source. [1] This process is known as ketosis and is a very effective way to boost weight loss. [2]

May Help Slow Down Aging

Studies have shown that the consistent practice of Intermittent Fasting may help fight disease and slow down aging. [3]  One study published in the Journal of Cell Metabolism, tracked mice who consumed a four-day low-calorie diet to mimics the fasting cycle. The study found that fasting improved the rat’s metabolism, decreased bone loss, improved cognitive function, lowered rates of cancer and extended their longevity. [4]

May Be Beneficial for the Brain

Fasting has shown it can be good for the body, but it may also be good for the brain. Fasting can reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and reduce blood sugar levels. Studies have found there may even be a link between Intermittent Fasting and the growth of the new brain cells. [5,6]


The Different Methods of Intermittent Fasting

There are several ways to do Intermittent Fasting, so it is important to experiment with what works for you and your body. 

16:8 Hours: Fast for 16 Hours Each Day and Eat for 8 Hours

This is the most popular form of Intermittent Fasting since it’s a daily extension of the fast you do while you are sleeping. Instead of eating a meal right when you wake up, try pushing your first meal to lunchtime instead. There are a few longer variations if you feel like you can fast for a little longer, there are the 18:6 and 20:4 variations as well.

5:2 Diet: Fast for Two Days Per Week

With this form of Intermittent Fasting, you typically eat as you usually would, making sure to make healthy choices that keep your body strong and well prepared for a longer fast.  After five days of regular all day eating, two days of fasting will start, cutting out all foods for 24 hours. If needed, you can add a small number of calories since this is a prolonged fast, but no more than 500 per day to keep your body in the fasted state.

Eat-Stop-Eat: Do a 24-Hour Fast, Once or Twice Per Week

This is an easy way to keep track of your fasting without too much effort. If you have your dinner at 7:30, fast all day until dinner the next day and that way you have done a full 24-Hours. It is recommended not to this more than once or twice a week.

Intermittent Fasting is a great way to give your metabolism a little extra boost and help increase overall health. If you have never given Intermittent Fasting a try, it might be an excellent addition to your health routine, but make sure to check with your doctor or nutritionist to make sure this diet is right for you!

What are your thoughts? Have you ever tried Intermittent Fasting before? If so, did you love it or hate it? We would love to know what you thought by leaving us a comment!


REFERENCES

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[1] NCBI: Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition and energy metabolism. 

[2]  Science Direct: Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction ameliorate age-related behavioral deficits in the triple-transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. 

[3] Cell Metabolism: Dietary Restriction and AMPK Increase Lifespan via Mitochondrial Network and Peroxisome Remodeling 

[4] Cell Metabolism: A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enchanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan

[5] PubMed: Dietary restriction increases the number of newly generated neural cells, and induces BDNF expression, in the dentate gyrus of rats. 

[6] Journal of Neurochemistry: Dietary restriction enhances neurotrophin expression and neurogenesis in the hippocampus of adult mice.