(Natural News) Intermittent fasting may be incredibly popular these days, but the eating plan is actually not something new. In fact, its roots can be traced back to many ancient religious and cultural practices.
A common misconception that people have when it comes to intermittent fasting is that it’s simply starving oneself. However, this eating plan is not about depriving the body of food; rather, it focuses on when you can eat food. This is where intermittent fasting diverges from other types of diet which focus on what foods you can and can’t eat.
According to the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, there are three major ways through which you can go about intermittent fasting. These include the following:
- Time-restricted fasting: In this method of fasting, a person is only given eight hours to eat during the day, then they have to avoid food for the remaining 16 hours. Most people who follow this method skip breakfast then proceed to eat their first meal around lunchtime. This leaves them with about seven more hours to feed themselves before going to bed.
- Modified fasting: Also known as the 5:2 diet, modified fasting consists of two days wherein a person only eats 25 percent of the recommended calorie intake followed by five days of the normal diet.
- Alternate fasting: In this fasting schedule people switch between eating zero-calorie foods and beverages to their normal eating habits. Fasting period can differ depending on the person. It can last for as short as 12 hours or go on for up to a week.
What does research say about intermittent fasting?
There are many claims regarding the benefits of intermittent fasting but not all of them have been proven true. Previous studies have shown that intermittent fasting lowers the risk of chronic diseases by reducing insulin production and sugar uptake of fat cells while improving insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, fasting has been associated with an increase in human growth hormone levels. This could be attributed for weight loss and muscle gain commonly linked to intermittent fasting. Other potential benefits of intermittent fasting include the following:
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- More purposeful eating — Most people eat just because there’s an opportunity to eat and not because they’re hungry. Intermittent fasting limits habit-driven snacking that most people aren’t even aware of.
- Better sleep habits — Since late-night snacking is not allowed in most intermittent fasting schedules, it’s not as fun to stay awake for more than necessary. This allows you to get adequate sleep, which can improve weight and metabolism, as well as reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
- Smarter food choices — It’s easier to make unhealthy food choices when you know that you’ll have other opportunities to eat throughout the day. Since intermittent fasting limits the amount of time to eat, you have to make better food choices.
On the contrary, there are also studies claiming that intermittent fasting isn’t as good as people claim it to be. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the effects of alternate-day fasting were similar to restricting calorie intake. Moreover, they claimed that bad cholesterol levels increased in the fasting group. Some other possible consequences of intermittent fasting include the following:
- Weight gain over time
- Eating more during non-fasting days
Before jumping on the intermittent fasting trend, make sure that you consider both the advantages and disadvantages of intermittent fasting so that you fully aware of the possible outcomes. (Related: Intermittent fasting protects and improves brain health, but you won’t hear that from Big Pharma or the food industry.)
Read more news stories on intermittent fasting and its various health benefits by visiting Fasting.news.