What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating plan where you restrict your eating for a certain period of time. The most popular form of intermittent fasting is daily time-restricted fasting. People who practice daily time-restricted fasting commonly choose an eight hour eating window. Some people skip one meal a day, usually breakfast, and eat their normal diet within the eight hour window.
Other popular methods of intermittent fasting include alternate-day fasting and 5:2 fasting. A person practicing alternate-day fasting will eat their normal diet for one day then either fast or have a less than 500 calories meal the following day. A 5:2 fast involves a person following their normal diet for five days and fasting twice a week (Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d.). Unlike other diets, intermittent fasting does not require the user to follow a strict eating plan. A person doing intermittent fasting can keep their meals the same each week as long as they eat within the designated time window (Mundi, 2022). Some research believes that intermittent fasting improves the metabolism and helps with diabetes and obesity, heart health, physical performance, tissue health, and thinking and memory (Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d.).
Does it Work?
The body requires energy at all times of the day. Hours after eating the body uses up all its sugar stores and switches to burning fat instead. Intermittent fasting was created to shorten the eating window and lengthen the fasting period, forcing the body to naturally burn fat stores.
There is mixed evidence behind intermittent fasting. Some research found that people lost weight because the eating window caused them to eat in a caloric deficit and lose weight over time, not because of the diet’s supposed metabolic benefits. A University of Alabama study followed a group of obese pre-diabetic men undergoing intermittent fasting. After five weeks of intermittent fasting, the group maintained their weight but noticed a drop in their insulin levels, a rise in their insulin sensitivity, and a drop in their blood pressure (Harvard Health, 2021). Many people rave about intermittent fasting but always talk to your doctor before starting a new diet.
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-Written by Sabrina Park MPH