For decades, considerable research has gone into intermittent fasting and the way it can benefit an entire array of health areas and aid in weight loss. It has become a global health trend and many have referred to it as a diet. Intermittent fasting (IF) has hit the mainstream as a “must try” diet.
Humans have observed fasting in the past, mainly for religious reasons, however, science has begun to show the health advantages of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting combines bodily wellness, along with an awareness of nutrition, rendering it a tool for life enhancement.
In this guide, we will address what intermittent fasting is, its impact on your body, and the advantages and side effects you may experience. We also offer some guidelines to start your personal intermittent fasting habit, together, with tools and tips to make it an easy transition.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that includes not eating or limiting your food consumption for specific durations of time.
Intermittent fasting is, primarily, about refraining from food for a certain period of time, varying from as few as 12 hours to one whole day, or even more, followed by a duration of healthy eating, termed as the feeding window.
Numerous studies in recent years have indicated that intermittent fasting – avoiding or lessening food and drink consumption periodically – can be beneficial for us.
Research on intermittent fasting shows an improvement in blood pressure and levels of cholesterol. Further, intermittent fasting has been connected to a variety of potential health benefits, such as short-term elevations in human growth hormone (HGH) and alterations in gene expression.
These effects are connected to longevity and a decreased risk of disease. Therefore, people who fast routinely often shed weight and live a wholesome, longer life.
How Many Hours Of Intermittent Fasting Is Beneficial?
Intermittent fasting requires a commitment to a daily 12-hour fasting window. As per the view of some researchers, the body tends to burn its fat reserves into energy after fasting for 10 to 16 hours, which discharges ketones within the bloodstream. This helps to promote weight loss.
The best way to do a 12 hour fast is to involve the sleeping period within the fasting window. This helps beginners as the fasting window is comparatively small.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
There is an abundance of ways to fast. The following are the most popular styles of intermittent fasting:
# 1 16:8 Fasting Protocol Or Lean Gains
The standard fasting protocol, developed by Martin Berkhan, is termed the Lean Gains protocol, which is a meager 16:8 fasting structure: 16 hours fasting, succeeded by 8 hours dining or eating.
Ideally, you omit breakfast and keep an eating window between 12 or 1 PM and 8 or 9 PM. This is generally an excellent way to begin if you’re a fasting beginner as forsaking food for 12 or 16 hours is much simpler than the rest of the protocols below.
# 2 5:2 Fasting Protocol
This protocol comprises 5 days of the week wherein you eat as you usually would, with 2 days of excessively low-calorie “fasting.”
Pick 2 days that are separated by a minimum of 2 days – Monday and Thursday, for instance – and intake 500-600 calories on those days, ideally from whole foods such as fruits and vegetables.
This method can be harder than Lean Gains due to its heavily restricting calories 2 out of the 7 days of the week. Nevertheless, you place yourself in a 2000-3000 calorie deficit for your week (as long as you eat like usual on all the rest days), which can lead to fat loss.
# 3 Eat-Stop-Eat
A more intense version of 5:2 fasting, eat-stop-eat, includes 2 separate 24-hour fasts over your week.
This protocol makes you halt eating after dinner on Sunday, say; followed by fasting for 24 hours, till Monday night.
You can still eat each day, though 2 of the days have to include a 24-hour fasting window.
This one is hard due to the inherent desire to gorge when breaking your fast.
Nevertheless, if you can eat correctly with this protocol, the caloric deficit leaps up to another 1000-1200 calories, besides the included benefits of 2 long-standing fasts across the week.
# 4 Alternate-Day Fasting
This method consists of fasting alternate days for 24 hours.
You can perform a precise 24-hour fast in the absence of any food, or you can employ very low calories (500-600) according to the 5:2 protocol. This approach makes you fast 3 or 4 times each week.
If you can somehow eat as usual on the opposite days, you’ll place yourself in an irrational 3500-4800 caloric deficit, which implies you’re shedding more than a pound of body weight every week, mainly fat.
# 5 The Warrior Diet
This method was created by Ori Hofmekler for people who desired to fast and consume the Paleo diet.
Each day of the week, you consume little amounts of raw fruits and vegetables from morning to evening, followed by one big meal for dinner.
While not essentially a real fast, the Warrior Diet discourages processed and fast foods.
Adhering to small amounts of fruits and vegetables not tampered with by cooking processes, permits you to receive loads of micronutrients.
Further, you can just eat so much in a single sitting; this paired with slight bits of fruits and veggies should most probably place you in a caloric deficiency.
# 6 20:4 Fasting Protocol
This is level two of Lean Gains.
Extending the fasting window to 20 hours and shortening your eating window to 4 hours, allows you to experience greater fasting advantages, including advanced autophagy.
Again, 4 hours isn’t plenty of time; you can likely slip in 2 meals and one snack in that window. This may be sufficient to place you into a caloric deficiency also.
# 7 One Meal A Day (OMAD)
This is the most enhanced version of LeanGains, level three.
It’s precisely what the name indicates: one meal, obtaining your entire calories within a single hour or sit-down meal.
You might wish to begin with 16:8, then move into a 20:4 before you shift completely to the OMAD protocol.
This is where you can acquire the most intense calorie deficiency and the most fasting advantages from an intermittent fasting protocol.
# 8 Impulsive Meal Skipping Or Intuitive Fasting
Natural fasting resembles natural eating, in that you question yourself at each meal, “Am I actually hungry?”
Our bodies will inform us when we are hungry if conditioned over a period of time to recognize a real need to eat.
While this results in an erratic schedule, it will allow you to feel full and recognize your fullness cues. You might not discard weight at all, though you will be pursuing a normal eating pattern for your specific body, which arrives with its own benefits.
Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
While it’s nice to know what’s occurring within your body, it’s also good to understand what intermittent fasting will achieve in your life:
It Will Aid in Weight Loss
Discarding body fat or weight is a wish many people have, by adopting a diet or attempting better nutritional protocols. Intermittent fasting promotes both body composition and weight in two ways:
One: Enhances Metabolism
Fasting for brief durations has been shown to raise metabolic rate.
Fasting invokes a thermogenic response, along with a decrease of insulin, the rise of human growth hormone, and a better impact on glucose control. It can also offer a potential benefit in the form of an overall weight reduction strategy.
Two: It Can Build A Caloric Deficit
By lessening the number of hours you eat, you restrict the intake of calories. Therefore, you could involuntarily eat less in a time-limited feeding window, which has been useful in fat loss.
Raises Insulin Resistance
Like metabolism, fasting acts on the complete digestive system, and your overall digestive health. One indicator, insulin, is a major factor in ascertaining your general well being.
Studies reveal that intermittent fasting, as well as a caloric limitation, have “comparable reductions in visceral fat mass, fasting insulin, and insulin resistance” while calorie restriction is slightly better for losing weight.
With the improvement in insulin sensitivity, people that have type 2 diabetes and those who are pre-diabetic, may be able to overturn those diagnoses with brief periods of fasting together with little caloric deficiencies.
Better HGH Production
Intermittent fasting stimulates your body’s human growth hormone production. HGH enhances muscle development, bone healing, overall mood, weight loss, and exercise ability, making it the best friend of an athlete.
Allowing your body to form HGH naturally by fasting is the healthiest method to raise its levels. This saves you from taking an exogenous pill or supplement.
Chronic ailments usually result from chronic inflammation. This inflammation can arise from multiple places, including extreme stress, bad eating and sleep habits, absence of exercise, and also your place of residence.
Nevertheless, much of this stress can be reduced by fasting; particularly, prolonged fasting, alternate-day fasting, and 20:4/OMAD fasts, witnessed in Ramadan, have hugely improved inflammatory biomarkers.
Triggered Autophagy And Cellular Repair
When you reach 16 hours or more in a fast, you can expect cell death to occur. Our bodies recycle our whole cells and get rid of cells that are no longer needed in the body.
According to a study by MIT biologists, a 24-hour fast can overturn the age-based stem cell function loss.
This primarily means you have greater youthful stem cells and cellular function, which assists with lessening aging generally and maintains you healthier longer.
Reduced Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
Blood triglycerides (blood fat), blood sugar levels, inflammation, LDL cholesterol, and insulin levels are at their best when they are low.
Intermittent fasting aids in the reduction of major biomarkers, thereby keeping you secure from heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
Enhanced Brain Health
Your brain receives a huge boost from fasting. Intermittent fasting raises brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), along with BDNF expression. BDNF produces neural proteins that support neuron survival and health.
Besides, it also assists in “neuronal resistance to injury,” securing your brain from degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Research claims that intermittent fasting “promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance, and healthspan,” it can reliably be said that intermittent fasting is among the finest ways to stop premature aging.
No better way exists to avoid disease, slow aging, and lessen any chronic side effects due to dieting than intermittent fasting.
How To Break A Fast?
All fasts require a tender end. Raw or cooked fruit and potato soup is usually served to break an extended fast. Obviously, if you’re on a keto diet, then cauliflower soup, bone broth, a fresh avocado, and olives are better alternatives.
If you’ve fasted for 2 days continuously, then opt for vegetarian food such as kefir, nuts, olives, and soups. Consume up to 800 calories on day one of your fast break.
If you’ve fasted just for 8-16 hours, then end your fast with a vegetarian meal including 300-400 calories and postpone for a few hours before taking your next meal.
Sufficient fiber and fluid consumption are also advised to make the transfer to eating, secure and easy. This will also aid with bowel movements. The primary reason for breaking fasts smoothly is that your digestive tract can gradually adjust to consuming food again. Our bodies are accustomed to eating food at the same time daily, and modifications in our feeding plan imply the body will have to adapt slowly to alterations in feeding time.
How Intermittent Fasting Works?
There are various ways to perform intermittent fasting, but all of them are based on picking normal time periods to eat and fast. For example, you might attempt eating just for an 8 hour period daily and fast for the rest. Or you might select to eat just one meal each day for two days a week. There are multiple different intermittent fasting schedules.
Following hours without food, the body depletes its sugar reservoirs and begins burning fat. This is known as metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting works by extending the period when your body has used up the calories eaten during your last meal and starts burning fat.
Is Fasting Safe For Women?
If you are attempting to conceive, possess a history of amenorrhea (omitting menstrual periods), or are breastfeeding, certainly consult your doctor prior to beginning intermittent fasting.
Science has revealed that fasting doesn’t carry as many benefits for women as in the case of men. Intermittent fasting can also render women emaciated, omit periods, and also infertile.
A conversation with a medical expert can aid you to find out if fasting is proper for you and your particular situation.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding raise the metabolic and nutrient needs of the mother, and fasting can cause a failure to serve those needs.
Risks And Side Effects Of Intermittent Fasting
Many people bear intermittent fasting without any significant trouble. Nevertheless, moderate side effects are common, particularly when starting. A standard rule regarding fasting is that moderate symptoms are expected, but acute or disabling symptoms are not usual and signal that you should instantly break your fast. Thankfully, these are extremely rare.
The common side effects you are likely to incur include:
- Dizziness and headaches
- Raised blood sugar
- Low blood sugar
- Refeeding syndrome
Some Good News For CBD Users In Intermittent Fasting
CBD users will be happy to know that supplementing CBD with intermittent fasting can optimize the effects of CBD and better the benefits of fasting. CBD has a positive impact on our metabolism and endocannabinoid system, which aids to harmonize our immune system, digestion, cardiovascular health, memory, mental health, and appetite. Furthermore, as your body’s inflammation levels diminish from fasting, your anxieties, pains, arthritic condition, and all other inflammation-related disorders and diseases you suffer from will improve!
CBD has been included in different diets for its advantages, such as the Keto and Paleo diet. CBD and intermittent fasting may have some benefits also. As the endocannabinoid system (ECS) performs a role in controlling various other systems, including the endocrine system, consuming CBD can promote the hormone-regulating procedures of intermittent fasting.
A 2016 study also discovered that CBD might have some impact on converting white fat into brown fat, a process known as ‘fat browning’ that apparently supports a healthier metabolism. The ECS also plays a part in insulin regulation, and the extra boost from CBD may promote this.
Nevertheless, one of the primary things CBD and intermittent fasting possess in common are their proposed calming effects. Used in combination, they can offer substantial relief in some extremely common conditions. Intermittent fasting, as well as CBD, may also possess some neuroprotective features, which implies they could offer some support to the generation of new brain cells and the safeguarding of old ones.
CBD helps to balance the two primary hormones that control blood sugar regulation, Insulin, and Glucagon, specifically working to raise insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing insulin levels. Intermittent fasting works to achieve the precise same thing, which makes them work in harmony together.
CBD and Appetite
CBD oil may make it simpler to adhere to your fasting schedule. If you are accustomed to eating at regular hours, CBD can assist! CBD blocks a receptor within the brain, making the neurotransmitter ghrelin, which activates appetite, unable to act. Animal studies have also indicated that CBD could raise concentrations of the neurotransmitter leptin in the brain, which gives you the feeling of becoming full or satiated. Consuming CBD at the completion of one’s eating regimen could relieve those cravings for a stress-free fast.
Additionally, both CBD and intermittent fasting have been displayed to positively impact neurogenesis or the substitution of impaired nerve cells with new ones. This can aid in preventing neurodegenerative disease by retarding the aging process. Moreover, CBD has been exhibited to stimulate specific areas of the brain, similar to intermittent fasting, which is linked to better cognitive function.
There are specific groups, such as athletes, that swear by the advantages of both intermittent fasting and CBD.
How To Include CBD Into An Intermittent Fasting Practice
If you opt to do intermittent fasting and want to keep using CBD during that time, there are various ways to include it into your daily routine.
Employing CBD oil is a preferred method for CBD dosage and absorbs rapidly into the bloodstream, effectively dispensing the benefits of the phytocannabinoid to your body. Vaping CBD is another method that works swiftly.
A few people choose to include CBD in their food or beverages during their fasting. Including CBD in drinks like tea can unlock extra health benefits and support relaxation.
It is always a good idea to examine the labels of CBD products and conduct research on them, to assure you are using high-quality CBD with high potency.
Intermittent fasting has emerged as a proven way of aiding in improving multiple health areas. Though intermittent fasting carries no metabolic advantages, however, it can help you in different ways as a lower meal frequency helps to regulate your appetite and decreases your hunger cravings.
Which of these methods of intermittent fasting appealed to you most? Let us know in the comments section.