Intermediate fasting is the talk of the town; you’ve probably heard the hype. Although it has a lot of benefits, there are still many myths among people about fasting.
Let’s clear all these doubts by exploring the science behind intermediate fasting! So, keep reading!
What is Intermediate Fasting?
Intermittent fasting, unlike many diets that emphasise what you eat, focuses on the timing of your meals.
It involves a structured eating pattern where you consume meals during specific time windows. Studies suggest that fasting for a set number of hours daily or reducing eating to one meal on certain days can offer health advantages.
The fasting duration can vary from a daily 12-hour fast to consecutive days, repeated consistently over a week. Following are the few schedules for intermediate fasting:
- Modified fasting or 5:2 Diet: This approach involves fasting for two non-consecutive days a week while eating normally for the remaining five days.
- Alternate-Day Fasting: Participants alternate between days of fasting and regular eating without any food or beverage restrictions on non-fasting days.
- Time-Restricted Eating: This method limits the eating window to a specific duration, typically 4 to 12 hours, leading to a fasting period of 12 to 20 hours daily. Individuals can consume food freely within their eating windows without any specific caloric restrictions.
The choice of fasting method is entirely up to you and should be based on your comfort level and preferred eating intervals.
However, it’s important to mention that more prolonged periods of fasting, such as 36,48, and 50 hours, can pose a risk to your body, so doctors do not recommend it.
Now, let’s start with the myths that are rooted in the people:
5 Intermediate Fasting Myths Not To Believe
Intermittent fasting has soared in popularity due to its numerous benefits. However, the surge in its popularity has led to a flood of misinformation. Distinguishing fact from fiction is crucial. Hence, let’s delve into and dispel the five most common myths surrounding intermittent fasting.
- Intermediate fasting slows down your metabolism.
- Intermittent fasting is best for weight loss.
- Intermittent fasting makes you overindulge.
- Intermittent fasting puts your body into starvation mode.
- During the eating window, you can eat whatever you want.
Science-Backed Benefits of Intermediate Fasting
Improved Cholesterol Levels: Studies suggest that intermittent fasting may positively impact cholesterol levels. It can potentially reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (often referred to as “bad” cholesterol) while increasing HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). This shift in cholesterol balance may help lower the risk of heart disease and related cardiovascular issues.
Blood sugar control: Intermittent fasting has shown promising effects on blood sugar regulation. It can enhance insulin sensitivity, allowing better control over blood sugar levels. This process is particularly beneficial for individuals at risk of or dealing with type 2 diabetes. By regulating blood sugar levels, intermittent fasting might help reduce the risk of complications associated with high or unstable blood sugar, including diabetic complications and metabolic disorders.
May boost brain function and prevent neurodegenerative disorders: Numerous studies highlight the potent impact of fasting on brain health. Animal studies indicate that fasting holds the potential to safeguard brain health by boosting the production of nerve cells, thereby augmenting cognitive function. This approach might be beneficial in alleviating inflammation, potentially playing a role in the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.
Specifically, research on animals suggests that fasting could serve as a protective measure and improve outcomes related to conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
However, further studies are imperative to thoroughly assess the effects of fasting on human brain function.
Changes in the function of hormones, cells, and genes: For instance, hormonal shifts occur to enhance the accessibility of stored body fat and initiate vital cellular repair mechanisms. Some notable changes that may occur in your body due to intermittent fasting include:
- Insulin levels: A significant decrease in insulin levels occurs, encouraging the burning of fat.
- Human growth hormone (HGH) levels: There might be a considerable increase in HGH levels, fostering fat-burning muscle gain and offering various other benefits.
- Cellular repair: Essential cellular repair processes, including the elimination of waste material from cells, are initiated.
- Gene expression: Favorable alterations manifest in several genes and molecules associated with longevity and defence against diseases.
Can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in your body: Oxidative stress stands as a significant contributor to both the aging process and the development of numerous chronic diseases. This stress results from the activity of unstable molecules known as free radicals, which interact with crucial molecules like proteins and DNA, causing damage.
Research indicates that intermittent fasting could potentially bolster the body’s ability to resist oxidative stress. Furthermore, studies suggest that this dietary approach might serve as a valuable tool in combatting inflammation, which is a pivotal factor in the onset of various prevalent diseases.
What can you eat While Intermediate Fasting?
For individuals engaging in fasting, it’s crucial to understand that the choices made during eating periods significantly impact the benefits of fasting.
“Eating normally” during the feeding window does not imply indulging recklessly. Research highlights that the advantages of fasting diminish when one consumes high-calorie junk foods, oversized fried items, or excessive treats during this time.
Here are some recommended foods that align well with intermittent fasting:
- Leafy Greens: Vegetables like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce are rich in nutrients and low in calories, making them excellent choices during eating periods.
- Healthy Fats: Incorporating healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil can provide essential nutrients and help in maintaining satiety during fasting.
- Lean Protein: Foods like chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, and legumes are excellent sources of protein, essential for muscle repair and overall body function.
- Unrefined Carbohydrates: Opt for whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat products. These carbohydrates offer sustained energy and essential nutrients, unlike processed or refined carbohydrates.
Selecting a balanced diet, rich in nutrients and mindful of portion sizes, is key to maximising the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting can significantly benefit both your body and mind, but its effectiveness is contingent on proper implementation. Consistency and discipline in practice yield remarkable results. However, for optimal and extraordinary outcomes, coupling intermittent fasting with a wholesome diet and a healthy lifestyle is highly recommended.