Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has become a popular and common health strategy. From celebrities to the average person, it’s a way to control when you eat food. Consequently, you don’t end up with late night snacking problems or issues involving overeating. And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Maybe you’ve heard of it before - but haven’t really understood it. Or perhaps you want to learn more about it before you try it.
You’ve come to the right place.
We’ve got the lowdown on all things intermittent fasting wise. This is your beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting. Let’s dive straight in!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is defined as a cycle of eating and not eating. You have a set duration to eat during your day. And you have a set duration where you fast - which frequently overlaps with sleeping. Essentially, your day is split up into an eating period and fasting period. But it really comes down to the individual as to what that exact ratio is.
Sometimes, it does involve skipping breakfast. But wait - aren’t we told skipping breakfast is bad? Not necessarily.
You technically fast every night. When you sleep for 7-9 hours, you don’t eat any food. Intermittent fasting just involves extending this fasting period a little longer.
And during your fast, you are allowed coffee, water, or tea. Depending on what you decide, you may even have small low-calorie amounts of food during your fasting window. It really depends on the individual and what you choose is best for you and your body.
The most popular ratio of fasting/eating is 16:8. You fast for 16 hours, most often between 8 pm to noon the next day. Then you eat between 12 pm - 8 pm every day. Again, this isn’t a set ratio and you can choose yours.
Other variations involve intermittent fasting throughout different weeks. For instance, once a week a person may fast from dinner one night to dinner the next night. There are also options where one day an individual eats lower calories and then it’s vastly higher the following day.
For this article’s purpose, we’ll stick to the basic ratios of 16:8, 14:10, or 12:12.
What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
It’s unlikely people would partake in intermittent fasting if there weren’t benefits.
Research shows that this type of fasting includes the following pros:
- It drives weight loss - or can. Fasting lowers your insulin levels. This means your body starts utilizing energy in your already existing cells to power you through your day.
- You experience a decreased risk of diabetes. Since it lowers insulin levels, it’s unlikely you’ll experience insulin resistance - which is often caused by high insulin levels.
- It may boost your heart health! A 2016 review showed that it may decrease blood pressure levels, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.
- It may increase your cognitive functioning. Studies have shown that mice have better memory and learning skills when they fast. It’s thought that these results may apply to the human body as well.
- It’s easier than dieting. Quick fixes rarely work - but long-term lifestyle changes do.
- Generally, it helps you live a longer life. By lowering your risk of life-threatening diseases (like heart disease) you can live a fuller and likely longer life (Yahoo! Who is going to complain about that?).
- You get to plan one less meal a day. It’s true. 8 hours basically only supplies enough time for 2 meals and snacks. This means you waste less time planning or making that third meal.
Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting
You’re probably wondering, “okay, great. How do I start intermittent fasting? Where do I begin?”
Let’s first clarify that intermittent fasting is a way of life. It’s not a diet. It won’t solve all your problems. But it may encourage you to lead a healthier - and ultimately, happier - life.
Yes, most people use it to lose weight. But a lot of people after they lose the weight, stick with it anyway. It’s excellent for maintaining a healthy weight as well. And if you’re prone to binge-eating, it helps you quit that bad habit.
Getting started involves pushing your eating time to later and later in the day. Let your body get used to it though. Start by trying out 12 hours in between your dinner the night before and breakfast the next day. Then, push it to 13, then 14 and so on.
If you begin to feel tired, moody, or weak, eat. Don’t force yourself through it if it makes you feel miserable. If you do, you’re missing the point.
Start with trying it out even once a week - as opposed to every day. Then, do the gradual climb in hours - increasing your fasting time. Once you’re comfortable with once per week, try to do it every second day. Eventually, you can put it all together and make it your daily routine.
If you need/love breakfast, you don’t need to skip it. You just eat it later - around 12 or 1 pm. I do this every day. Normally I have dinner around 7-8pm. and usually, I don’t eat until 12 or 1 the next day.
If you’re wondering, it absolutely does take time to get used to. I used to be one of those people who was hungry right when I woke up. It was how my body was trained. But slowly, I started pushing breakfast later and later. My stomach wasn’t grumbling anymore first thing in the morning. And normally, I’m not exactly starving when I do go to eat food. It’s all about adapting slowly and gradually!
Try Intermittent Fasting Out & See How Your Body Responds
Remember to go slow. And don’t expect weight loss overnight. Buckle in for the long-term. Make it a part of your life. Maybe it’s exactly the kind of diet-not-diet you’ve been needing and looking for.
In a society that’s overloaded with massive portion sizes, this is a great way to control your food intake. Overeating is one of the main problems leading to obesity and other major health issues. Don’t become part of the stats. Take control of your life and your eating habits.
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