Intermittent fasting cycles fasting and eating for a period of time. That period of time could be fasting for 16 hours and eating for 8 hours, or it could be fasting for 20 hours and eating for 4 hours. Options for longer hour fasts do exist, too.
Generally, intermittent fasting is used to lose weight and improve overall health. But, it needs to be done the right way to reap the benefits.
First things first: Fasting is not starvation!
If you fast for a certain number of hours in a day, you are not going to jeopardize your health.
Think about it this way: Fasting can be looked at as a period of time where we voluntarily give up food for additional health benefits; Starvation is not voluntary.
Furthermore, when we fast, our bodies feed on the extra fat in our bodies - not damaging our internal health one bit.
To sum it up, fasting causes the body to quite literally eat its own fat to produce energy.
To clarify, the process goes as follows:
When we eat, some of the food is automatically used up, and the rest of the food is stored away for later use. While the food is stored, insulin levels rise and sugar is stored in the liver, while additional unused food is turned into fat and stored throughout the body.
When we fast, the opposite happens. Insulin levels drop and our bodies burn the already stored sugar and fat.
There are many long-term benefits to long-term fasting. Some of the most common ones that you’ll be able to see shortly into the process include:
The most common options include the 16:8 choice and the 20:4 choice.
16:8 requires the faster to give up food for 16 hours of the day. The faster is then only allowed to eat 8 hours out of the day, leaving room for approximately two meals and snacks in between.
Usually, the first meal of the day or the last meal of the day is skipped or ‘lessened.’ Some choose breakfast, others choose dinner.
A typical 16:8 will break fasting at 11 AM and start it back up at 7 PM.
20:4 requires the faster to give up food for 20 hours of the day. The faster is then only allowed to eat 4 hours out of the day, leaving room for one large meal or two small meals and possibly one snack.
When not fasting, the only consumption that can take place is that of water and coffee. Some teas are subject to the rule.
Longer fasts may need medical supervision and attention.
There are certain circumstances to be aware of when fasting. Some situations are not healthy, at all, to fast.
If you are underweight, pregnant, or breastfeeding, fasting can cause dangerous side effects.
Also, consult a doctor if you have diabetes, other underlying health conditions, or if you’re on prescription medications.
Side effects are rare, but they can happen. It’s best that you’re aware of symptoms that can and may pop up through fasting periods.
The most common include: