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Ever heard of intermittent fasting? You want to fit into that new amazing dress but you hate working out. You want to get rid of your belly fat but your bed is your first love. Do you want to feel sexy when you gaze at yourself in the mirror and might want to shed some kilos off your body for that. You might be looking for a diet plan to lose weight fast. So all in all you want to feel metrosexual enough but don’t have the figure or will to workout for that. Fasting instantly pops up as the solution for the above problems but can we have a more systematic approach towards fasting?
Intermittent fasting is said to be the one-stop solution to all the above miseries. Also, we do not have any other dieting method that does not shout “do not eat carbs and fats”. IF simply modulates when you’re eating whatever you eat. Let’s discuss how effective this latest millennial fad is and if it is here to stay or not.
So what is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is basically feasting less and fasting more. Strictly unadvisable for food bloggers. Well, that just covered half of the insta-millennial population. Foodies have to go an extra mile. You basically reduce the frequency of your meals and fast for longer periods. It gives you the flexibility to not sweat off your fat but lose it with a consistent diet plan which doesn’t compulsorily include green tea. The idea must have come from the ancient Hunter-gatherers who didn’t have a steady food-supply and had to go on for hours without meals.
There are three ways of following this diet. The 16/8 method in which you skip the breakfast and spread your two meals with an 8-hour gap between them. It’s ideal to have your last meal 2-3 hours before you call it a day or precisely before 8 pm. Then there is the “one meal a day” method which might sound a little extreme where you choose to have one meal a day at a particular time and have the next meal the very next day at the same time which makes you fast for 24 hours straight.
That sounds like a Kareena Kapoor lifestyle minus the pilates of course. Lastly, the 5:2 diet where you consume 500-600 calories for two days a week and eat normally for the rest of the week. 16/8 diet can be termed as an ideal balanced diet especially for the working millennials who don’t want to go through the trouble of cooking or spend chunks on cooks or restaurants.
Why 16/8 intermittent fasting?
After fasting for around 16-20 hours your human growth hormone levels go up by 1300-1500%. Human growth hormone, popularly known as the fountain of youth, has a lot of benefits including weight loss and anti-ageing. There are many more benefits apart from HGH as well such as increased metabolic rate by 3-14%, nutrient partitioning as the nutrients will be absorbed more efficiently and increased protein synthesis, fat burning and oxidation because, voila, you’ll lose your fat to save your muscles. During the fasting period, your body will use the existing fats rather than the glucose in your bloodstream to produce energy so in a way you’re ordering your body to use your fat in the period you wish. Now that’s some control over the body everyone wishes to have.
Certain studies on animals have shown that it prevents cancer as well. Some studies on human cancer patients have proven that it reduces various side effects of chemotherapy as well. Few studies on animals have also shown that it protects against Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases and also significantly helps in symptoms and delays the onset as well.
Coming to the mechanism behind intermittent fasting, it’s no rocket science. As discussed earlier, your body doesn’t have readily consumed meal to derive energy from. It uses the body fats instead of the glucose in the blood or the glycogen in the muscles/liver. Glycogen is a kind of starch stored in the liver which can be used for energy.
Glycogen reduces even while sleeping. So when you have your meal it is instantly stored as glycogen or burned as energy leaving meagre amount to be stored as fat. Now consider without fasting, all the meal with full glycogen would have been stored as fat instead. Science! Combine this with the increase in growth hormones, then you’re leading your body to good muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.
Research around intermittent fasting
It’s 2020 and we don’t have to follow anything that doesn’t have good research backing. A lot of favourable researches on intermittent fasting have been done on fat male rats. There has been significant reduction reflected on their weight; their blood pressures, sugars and cholesterol have improved but at the end of the day they are rats.
Studies on humans have shown that they are absolutely safe and functional. A lot of new researches are popping up claiming that the timing of the fast is the secret. It can make intermittent fasting a much more viable, unceasing and constructive approach for weight loss.
Research from the University of Alabama that was conducted on a small group of obese men with prediabetes. They conducted “early time-restricted feeding” ( a form of intermittent fasting), where entire meals were the spread out over the early eight hours of the day(7 am to 3 pm) or over 12 hours, say, 7 am to 7 pm. After five weeks of no fluctuation in weight, the 8-hour group had efficaciously lower insulin, remarkably lower insulin sensitivity and considerably lower blood pressure.
Moreover, they had lost a lot of appetite. So we really don’t have to starve ourselves. It has significantly improved metabolism even in the 12 hours group men. That’s gain without pain. One research disobeyed another apparently. So one can stick to eating early in the day and extending the night fasting.
Is it for everyone?
So we have good scientific and research backing to prove that circadian rhythm fasting (same same different different ) pooled with a healthy diet can significantly reduce weight in the long run and is beneficial for diabetes as well. One of a very general example of IF is Ramadan. The only people who can avoid IF or attempt it under close supervision are people with advanced diabetes or on medication for the same, people with a history of eating disorders and pregnant or breastfeeding women. It’s addressed as intermittent fasting and not intermittent diet as there’s no fixed diet plan attached to it. Now just because it’s one or two meals a day, you can’t indulge in a McDonald’s buffet or a Subway feast.
So when we say that the diet is flexible, it does not mean that the only thing you divulge into our hamburgers and fries. A good diet plan could get better results. Raw veggies and fruits should be incorporated in the meal and preferably consumed first. Now that’s where one meal a day has an edge where you can go a little overboard and have some snacks included. On a parallel note when you’re feeding your body just once, you might as well feed it with nutrients, just saying. You just need to wind up your meal in an hour or so.
Healthy delicious food
Healthy food doesn’t have to be bland always. Here are some of the edibles that you can include in the diet. One of the best parts is that you can have water because it’s not dry fasting. It has got 0 calories. IF promotes hydration so drinking a lot of water is suggested to prevent dehydration and for better blood flow. Raspberries have a lot of fibre which keeps you regular. Homemade smoothies as mentioned earlier can keep you refreshed and active. Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants which can keep you going. Try colourful salads and even meat. All one has to remember is, we eat to live, not the other way around.
Well, when it comes to millenials there’s no better green flag than approvals from their idols or celebrity crushes. We have good news as a lot of celebrities actively follow intermittent fasting and have their success stories. Hugh Jackman, the wolverine, swears by intermittent fasting. He follows the 16/8 approach.
Celebrities following intermittent fasting
Antoni Porowski follows the 16/8 approach too where he has his first meal around noon and wraps up the second one by 8 pm. Jennifer Lopez fasts for a minimum of 8 hours a day and follows a good diet. Terry Crews follows the 16/8 approach as well where he fasts from 10 pm to 2 pm the next day. Well, he would break his fast occasionally for a tea or coffee but let’s not delve into the details when he looks that hot. Nicole Kidman follows 8-hour fasting rule with a healthy diet. Benedict Cumberbatch follows the 5:2 diet. Guess we now know the reason for their washboard torsos.
It’s not easy but one gets used tremendously. The beginning period is the toughest as we’re used to 3-4 meals a day and that midnight dessert craving we can never do without. Cutting it down to 2 or 1 is a hurdle. One feels very hungry and lethargic the entire day but it gets better within weeks. If you follow it up with the gym, one can see tremendous improvement in workout regime as well.
It’s easy to follow as you just have to rearrange and skip some meals and try to eat healthily. So we can conclude that the focus should be on finding a fasting pattern that works best for you ad which includes nighttime in the fasting necessarily as it shows better results. IF should not be a hard-to-follow approach as it does not restrict you with a diet plan. Until further studies contradict IF can be termed as one of the best long term weight loss methods to follow.
Once your body gets accustomed with it, it won’t even be a diet or fasting anymore, it would be a way of living. One doesn’t have to refer to dieticians or diet charts. It’s pocket friendly and very simple. So it’s not just a fad it’s pretty fab and everyone could give it a shot.