Intermittent fasting is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. It involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating.
Many studies show that intermittent fasting can be a viable strategy to reduce caloric intake, body weight, body fat mass, and improve insulin sensitivity.
WHY YOU SHOULD INTERMITTENT FAST
People have actually been fasting for thousands of years. Sometimes it was done out of necessity when there simply wasn’t any food available.
All kinds of processes in the body change when we don’t eat for a while, in order to allow our bodies to thrive during a period of famine. It also has to do with hormones, genes and important cellular repair processes.
When we fast, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a drastic increase in human growth hormones.
Many people biohack with intermittent fasting in order to lose weight, as it is very simple and effective way to restrict calories and burn fat.
Some research also suggests that can help protect against diseases, including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and others.
It is an effective “biohack” that makes your life simpler while improving your health at the same time. The fewer meals you need to plan for, the simpler your life becomes.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
You might be asking what is alternate-day fasting. Much as the name implies, when you’re on an alternate day fasting diet, the idea is that you severely restrict the number of calories you eat on fasting days, while eating, however, you’d like during regular days.
You won’t want to completely cut out food on fasting days, but it is severely restricted kind of like you don’t eat carbs on certain days in the carb cycling diet. The recommended amount is about 25 percent of whatever your total calories on a diet would be. If you’ve determined that 2,000 calories a day is the amount you require to lose weight, on a fasting day, you’d stick to 500 calories. On non-fasting days, you’d eat the 2,000 calories.
Time-restricted eating is a type of diet that focuses on the timing of eating. Instead of limiting the types of food or the number of calories that people consume, this diet restricts the amount of time they can spend eating.
This type of intermittent fasting means that a person eats all of their meals and snacks within a particular window of time each day. This timeframe can vary according to the person’s preference and the plan they choose to follow. Although, the eating window in time-restricted programs ranges from 6-12 hours a day.
Outside of this period, a person can’t consume any calories. They should, however, drink water or no-calorie beverages to remain hydrated. In some time-restricted diet plans, people may also consume unsweetened coffee or tea with no cream.
Biohacker Diet: Fast during the day, eat a big meal at night
The biohacker intermittent fast involves eating small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day, then eating one huge meal at night. Basically, you “fast” all day and “feast” at night within 4-hour eating window.
This diet also emphasizes food choices that are also similar to the paleo diet- whole, unprocessed foods that resemble what they looked like in nature.
Overall, the biohacker diet is about eating only small amounts of veggies and fruits during the day, then eating one huge meal at night.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting
People following the 5:2 diet eat standard amounts of healthful food for 5 days and reduce calorie intake on the other 2 days.
Normally, people separate their fasting days in the week. For example, they may fast on a Monday and Thursday and eat normally on the other days. There should be at least 1 non-fasting day between fasting days.
There is very limited research on the 5:2 diet, which is also known as the Fast diet. A study involving 107 overweight or obese women found that restricting calories twice weekly and continuous calorie restriction both led to similar weight loss.
The study also found that this diet reduced insulin levels and improved insulin sensitivity among participants.
WHEN TO START INTERMITTENT FASTING
There are many health benefits that have been observed from intermittent fasting, but it is very important to remember that there are current limitations in intermittent fasting research and mixed results found in the different types of intermittent fasting. As of now, intermittent fasting can be seen as a more flexible alternative to the traditional calorie restricted diet. What’s really important is that you assess your own eating habits and find out what approach works best for you.
If you do decide to try intermittent fasting, always speak with a registered dietitian for personalized advice and supervision. The goal here is not to cause your body any sort of chronic stress, but to nurture and show it some love by taking care of it, and as biohackers we must start with a foundation of a nutritious diet.
Jane Smolnik is a Naturopathic Doctor and Iridologist with a practice in Asheville, NC. For more info please visit her website at: UltimateHealing.com, or call 828-777-5263 for more info.