Rumoured to aid weight loss, improve brain health and lower the risk of cancer, it’s no surprise that the intermittent fasting craze has blown up in recent years. But, what does intermittent fasting involve and is it actually good for us? We’ve taken a closer look.
What is intermittent fasting?
Put simply, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and periods of fasting. For example, you may decide to eat between the hours of 12-8pm but fast the rest of the time.
Unlike many diets, intermittent fasting doesn’t specify the types of foods you can and can not eat. It’s fully focused on when you eat and when you don’t eat. There are many different cycles, with some fasting for 24 hours up to twice per week, while others choose to fast for shorter time periods.
What are the different intermittent fasting methods?
The list is endless! But here are the most popular methods:
The 16/8 method
Also commonly known as the "Lean-Gains" protocol, breakfast is a no-go when sticking to this method. The 16/8 involves restricting your eating to an eight-hour period, so this could be 12-8pm. You then fast for 16 hours. Newbies to intermittent fasting may find this method the easiest, as it’s not as restrictive in comparison to other methods. The fasting period is when most people are asleep so you’re less likely to feel the urge to snack as you’ll be far away in the land of nod! If you’re a brekkie fan, the morning may be a little tricky.
The ‘Eat-Stop-Eat’ method
Tougher than the 16/8 method, this cycle involves 24 hours of fasting once or twice a week. If you’re new to intermittent fasting and a big foodie, this one may be a shock to the system so maybe ease yourself in with a less restrictive method.
The 5:2 method
If you’re a calorie counter, this one may work for you. It involves sticking to 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days, then eating normally for the rest of the week. Sounds easy, but it could be tough if you’re particularly active or used to the recommended 2000-2500 calories per day.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Not convinced? Well, studies suggest that intermittent fasting may provide an array of benefits:
It may help aid weight-loss
Research shows that intermittent fasting can burn belly fat and help you lose unwanted body fat, all without having to consciously diet.
It can improve brain health
This form of dieting has been known to increase brain hormone BDNF, while also aiding the growth of new nerve cells. It’s also been rumoured to protect against Alzheimer’s disease and increase the general health of the brain.
It can improve your heart health
Intermittent fasting may reduce bad LDL cholesterol, blood sugar and insulin resistance, all risks of heart disease.
It can reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a key symptom of many chronic diseases. Intermittent fasting can ease inflammation, helping you to avoid various illnesses and diseases.
Is intermittent fasting safe?
Many people fast and live healthy lives however, if you are concerned, always consult your doctor before embarking on a new diet. If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes or low blood pressure, or take certain medications, you should speak to a medical professional before trying out intermittent fasting.
So, thinking of braving the fast? Let us know how you get on over on our social channels. You can find more diet and nutritional tips and advice over on our blog. Always hungry? Well, here’s 6 reasons why you might be!