Intermittent fasting is about way more than weight loss. You may have heard the term in alternative wellness circles, but what does it really mean, and, most important: is it healthy? As it turns out, studies show that intermittent fasting has some great health benefits for most people, and while it may not be for everyone, it can be a healthy thing when done right.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you cycle between periods of fasting and eating. Intermittent fasting is less about the foods you eat (though healthy foods are always a good thing), and more about when you eat them.
There are many intermittent fasting schedules. We all fast already every night as we sleep, and for some, extending that fast a bit longer — like not eating until noon, or after 7 p.m., is an effective strategy for upping their weight loss efforts and overall health goals. Others may choose to omit dinner every other night, and others aim to fast for 16-hour fasting windows each day. There are as many ways to use intermittent fasting as there health enthusiasts who swear by it, and the key is, as always, to listen to your body and find what works best for you.
What Are The Benefits?
The human body is well adapted to go for periods of time without eating, and intermittent fasting has been shown to up human growth hormone and metabolic function, reduce insulin and regulate blood sugar levels, regulate hormone function, and boost brain health and the cellular repair process, while also helping to reduce markers for certain illnesses like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Some studies also show that intermittent fasting may help you live longer, and is effective for healthy weight loss.
Intermittent Fasting Methods
There are several different strategies to try if you want to take a swing at intermittent fasting, and remember that it’s important to stay flexible too — you may want to adjust your approach as your needs change, or you may find you do best sticking to a certain approach most of the time. Remember that you should feel comfortable in your eating and fasting schedule; you shouldn’t feel like you’re straining and struggling to maintain it. Here are a few approaches you can try:
The 16/8 Method
This strategy involves eating during an 8-hour window each day while you fast for 16; you might prefer eating earlier or later in the day, depending on what works best for you. You might have your first meal at noon each day, and then fast after 8 p.m., for instance. Remember to eat as much as you need to during your 8-hour eating window.
The 5:2 Method
This strategy involves fasting on liquids like water, low-sugar vegetable juices, and herbal teas only for two days out of the week, and eating no more than about 500 to 600 calories from healthy foods on fasting days while keeping up with your normal eating plan for the remaining five days of the week.
Alternate Day Fasting
Alternate day fasting means fasting every other day. Eat as you normally would during non-fasting days, while eating no more than 500 to 600 calories on fasting days — remember to stay well hydrated with healthy liquids.
Clean Program Intermittent Fasting
During the cleanse, we recommend observing a 12-hour window of fasting, that’s rooted in Ayurvedic tradition. The 12-hour window supports the body to clean house during the night. The body sends the signal to go into deep detox mode approximately eight hours after your last meal. Then the body needs another four hours to do a deep clean. Whether you’ve done the Clean Program yet or not, this is a simple habit you can easily implement in your daily life.
Remember that while studies absolutely show the effectiveness of intermittent fasting for addressing a slew of health issues, it’s not a substitute for a healthy diet. We recommend an anti-inflammatory diet rich in plants, greens, healthy fats, healthy proteins, and probiotic-rich foods. Intermittent fasting can be a great adjunct to your healthy lifestyle plan, but remember that’s in not for everyone at all times. Certain illnesses, like gallbladder disease, may be contraindicated as well, so make sure to have a chat with your healthcare provider with any questions you might have.