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Intermittent fasting seems to be arousing the interest of many people on their journey to wellbeing and fitness. In 2019, intermittent fasting was among the most searched topic on the internet especially for its relation to the management and even reversal of type 2 diabetes. Though not a simple exercise to get involved in, and yet still not an easy lifestyle to maintain, intermittent fasting has been said to have quite some positive changes in the weight loss and fitness journey when well-practised. Simply put, intermittent fasting is regulated fasting where one has an open window period for eating and a closed one in which they abstain from food and drink only water.
Each time we eat, our bodies’ breaks down the food into sugars and utilizes the required amount for daily continuous activities. In most cases, however, we consume more than the body requires. When this occurs, the body does not utilize all the calories at a single time, but instead stores away some of it in the form of fats. The major hormone involved in breaking down food for both use and storage is insulin. Insulin is secreted in amounts proportional to the amount of food that requires to be stored. After the body utilizes what it requires, the rest is broken down into fats and distributed in the body in the order that the physiology allows.
The body primarily has two states, the fed state where it is using glucose for energy or the starved state where it uses the fat stored for the production of energy. Maximizing on the fasted state means the body relies and more on the stored fat, and this is the core principle behind intermittent fasting. During the fasting period, the body reduces the reliance on the readily available sugars from consumed carbohydrates and utilizes the fat cells by breaking them down for energy. When this happens, one getting leaner and the body fat reduces.
There are many ways to get this done. However, the core aim remains to limit the ‘eating window’ to a minimum period. The most common pattern for beginners is the 16:8 where one has 16 hours to fast and an 8-hour eating window. The more advanced is the 20:4 where the eating window is minimized to a mere 4 hours. The best way to get to either is to ease into it by slowly reducing the eating window until you reach a manageable fasting window
When practising intermittent fasting, the appetite for food generally dwindles downward even with the long 16-hour window of huger as a beginner. When this happens, it is advisable to establish a balance by eating small but frequent meals during the eating window to avoid developing eating disorders that may occur with reduced food intake. During the eating window, a healthy diet should be the main focus for one to reap the benefits of the fast. Eating less of carbohydrates and more of fruits and vegetables will further reduce the amount of fat the body has to store away and force it to utilize more of the stored fats than relying on daily intake.
There are beliefs as well that fasting in and of itself has other health-related benefits such as cardiovascular health and correcting certain eating disorders, and management of type 2 diabetes. There are undoubted benefits of intermittent fasting especially with regards to weight loss. However, it is critical to understand the caveats and nuances that go into intermittent fasting and how to best adapt intermittent fasting to suit your individual needs.
Intermittent fasting in itself is not a weight-loss option but rather a lifestyle change that can help one to lose and maintain the desired weight with time. One must understand the basic underlying principles of energy balance. To lose weight, a person needs to be in a caloric deficit. Intermittent fasting just comes as an easier way to do this because if one has less amount of time to eat then they can take their restricted-calorie diet as a few balanced meals within a set time. This way, you simply put your fat cells to better use for a healthier you.
Brueck, H. & Landsverk, G. (2019). Google Revealed the top Trending Diet Searches Of 2019. It Included Plans From Celebrities.
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