When people think of dieting their mind goes to a vegan or keto diet — those are popular options we’re used to. But, fasting? That’s majorly associated with religious practices, not a diet. Think of intermittent fasting as more than just a diet but an eating plan that juggles between fasting and eating on a predetermined schedule. According to research, this fasting plan is a great way to help you manage your weight and in some cases, prevent diseases.

You might ask — how can I do it? Would there be repercussions on my health? In a study by Johns Hopkins, neuroscientist, the human body has evolved to be able to go on for hours, days, or even longer periods of time without food. That was how humans used to live before they learned about farming, they were majorly hunters who knew how to live on nothing for a long while. It was survival; either that or death even though they had to spend time hunting or gathering food. Learn what you need to know about fasting and its effect on your body in this article.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

It’s been established that intermittent fasting is more than a diet but an eating pattern. It’s a great way of having a specific time for your meals so you can get the most out of them. It doesn’t change or dictate what you eat, but when you should eat.

Why do you have to change when you eat? Intermittent Fasting has been noted as a good way to become lean without going on diets or reducing your calorie intake. Most times, people try to maintain the same amount of calories they’d normally consume when they begin intermittent fasting. Since it’s essentially a matter of when not what, they eat bigger meals when they can. If you want to maintain muscle mass while you slim down,  intermittent fasting is a good way to do that. 

One of the major reasons why people attempt intermittent fasting is to lose fat because it has the simplest strategies available for taking bad weight off while keeping good weight. Unlike other weight loss plans, its major requirement is a little behavioral change. There are no complexities associated and anyone can do it. 

Intermittent Fasting Plans

There are different plans you can choose if you plan to start fasting. A detailed fasting guide on 21 Day Hero shows that IF can be done through caloric restriction or reduced meal frequency. You can select a daily approach that limits daily meals to a six to eight-hour period every day. There is the 16/8 fasting where you can eat for eight hours and fast for about 16 hours. Another is the 5:2 plan. It is a weekly approach where you eat regularly for five days a week and limit yourself to a maximum of 600 calories for the remaining two days. So you can decide to eat normally Monday through Thursday except Friday and Saturday. 

The longer period plans that have you stay without food for 24 to 72-hours are not really good for you. Don’t go too long without eating as it might actually get your body to store more fat as a response to starvation.

How Does It Work?

There are various ways one can begin intermittent fasting, but they are majorly based on selecting regular time periods to eat and fast. The eating period where you eat, digest, and absorb food is known as the fed state and fasting, fasted state.

The fed state begins when you start eating and lasts between three to five hours. In this state, the tendency for your body to burn fat is low because your insulin levels would be high.

After that period, your body enters into another phase referred to as the post–absorptive state. It simply means your body isn’t processing any meal. This state can last up to 12 hours after your last meal. Then your body begins the fasted state. Your body can easily burn fat because, at this stage, your insulin levels are low. Fats that were inaccessible in the fed state could be burned.

Considering that we don’t enter the fasted state till 12 hours after our last meal, the tendency that our bodies are in the fat-burning state is rare. That is probably one of the reasons why people who begin intermittent fasting lose fat without changing what they eat, the quantity of what they eat, or their exercising period but when they eat. 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  • Thinking and memory: According to research, it boosts verbal memory for adults.
  • Heart health: Intermittent fasting has been known to improve blood pressure and heart rates at rest including other heart-related issues.
  • Physical performance: People on intermittent fasts showed fat loss while retaining muscle mass. 
  • Diabetes and obesity: It helps to prevent obesity and weight loss, certainly.

Except you have a special medical condition, intermittent fasting is good for your health and a great way to lose or maintain weight. If you do have a condition but want to try it still, speak with your doctor about their recommendation.