Intermittent Fasting (IF) is one of the top fitness trends around the world. It has been around for years, but seems to keep making a come-back. Unlike diets, it doesn’t target what you eat but rather when. It’s all about creating an eating pattern that is restrictive. You’ll go between periods of no calorie intake followed by periods where you can eat which continues as a cycle. Fanatics of this method praise it as a much more “natural” way of eating. This is the idea that IF mimics the diet of our ancestors who were hunter gatherers and that we are eating in over-abundance now.
The most popular form of IF is the 16/8 Method. Typically, you would fast for 16 hours then have an allotted 8 hours to eat. Part of the reason that this method is so popular is because it can be done without realising. The equivalent is not eating beyond 10pm, waking up late, skipping breakfast and going straight to lunch, therefore it’s nothing uncommon. More extreme forms of fasting would be harder to maintain. There is also the ‘Eat-Stop-Eat’ method where fasting lasts 24 hours and completed once or twice a week.
What Happens During Intermittent Fasting?
Certainly, the body does change during IF. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) increases whilst insulin decreases. Body fat is made more accessible. Without the intake of calories, the body will use the fat reserves thus aiding weight loss. On an even small scale, cellular repair is encouraged.
Although there have been proven, beneficial results for IF, it has only officially been present in animal testing. Furthermore, IF should not be used as an excuse to still eat unhealthy food. It’s easy to fall into the mindset of choosing junk food to compensate for the lost calories through fasting. IF can be an effective tool for weight loss but it must be maintained within a balanced diet and active lifestyle. If gaining muscle is the goal, the 8 hours of eating during the 16/8 Method should be centred around weight training.
Can Intermittent Fasting Work for Everyone?
IF is not ideal for everyone. Those looking to kick start weight loss or are training for elite competitions, then it will more likely be better suited to them. IF is certainly not suitable for people with eating disorders or who under eat (intentionally or not). It also isn’t suitable for children and teenagers. Because IF is all about restriction, it is not psychologically healthy for those who may be vulnerable. It is also harmful for those who are underweight because it will only hinder their ability to gain weight.
Overall, the fad of intermittent fasting isn’t a ground breaking new concept. In fact, it is quite simple in terms of the 16/8 Method. Those with a busy lifestyle or who just can’t stomach breakfast in the morning are probably fasting without any knowledge of doing so. IF does have benefits but it will not suit everyone. Suppose you do want to try it, please be aware you must maintain a healthy lifestyle overall. IF is merely one part of it. Healthy diet and exercise should be done anyway.