Intermittent fasting, also known as IF is getting a lot of attention in the research world due to its potential benefits. Technically, this is not even fast. It is just a diet pattern where you divide your day into two parts- the eating part and the non-eating part. Irrespective of the type, IF is a very powerful tool for weight loss and good cellular health. Below listed are the different types of IF, from the mildest forms to the most extreme ones along with the main benefit they offer.
12:12 Intermittent Fasting: This is the simplest of all. In this, you can eat everything in a 12-hour window, and then give your body a break from calories for the next 12 hours. This is so easy, that it comes naturally and does not need any extra efforts. The downside being, it is too basic to have all the benefits of IF. If you plan to start, then this is where you should begin and then take it forward from there.
16:8 Intermittent fasting: This is something I have been practicing for over a month, and I am impressed with the results. My body feels great, I am more alert and save up on quite some time. In this pattern, you get an 8-hour eating window post which you fast for 16 hours. One easy way to do this is, to eat an early dinner, around 7 pm and then simply having a late breakfast at around 11 am on the next day. Of all the benefits, the standout benefit of this variant is improved body composition i.e lesser fats and more muscle component in the body. It would be ideal to have 2-3 high-nutrition meals during this time frame to fulfill all the body requirements. The 16:8 clubbed with Keto-Diet is one of the very trending and effective diets patterns.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting: This is the second most popular variant after the 16:8. During this, you eat a good healthy normal diet for 5 days of the week, and for select 2 days, say Tuesday and Thursday, limit your calorie consumption to a maximum of 500 calories. These 500 calories help in increasing compliance as it doesn’t need you to go into a complete 24 hour fast.
OMAD aka One meal a day: As self- explanatory a name as it could be. You can choose to have one particular meal in your day, according to what best fits your schedule. Now, one quick tip here is to keep that meal at least 3 hours away from your bedtime for digestion purposes. All the types here onwards fall into the advanced category of IF and need your doctor’s / nutritionist’s approval.
The Warrior Diet: This involves fasting for the entire day and then having a healthy nutrient-filled meal in the evening hours. The science behind this diet pattern is the early life of warriors, where they ate only one heavy meal towards the end of the day. Also, one more thing to note here is, that the propagators of paleo foods like this a lot. So, if you are on a paleo diet, you might want to club it with this Diet pattern here.
Alternate day fasting: According to this, you can have proper meals every alternate day, and not eat anything on the other days. It is a little on the difficult side. An easier version of this would be to have around 500 calories on the fast days. This modified version has a better compliance history due to some food allowance on the fast days too.
Extended fasting: The extended variant involves complete abstinence of food for any length from 24 hours to 72 hours. It is extremely difficult for beginners but gets easier with practice. The unique benefit that this IF has to offer, is that it improves autophagy and resets the immune systems. (Autophagy is the process by which the body eats up its own damaged cells, and promotes the production of new and healthy ones.) The University of California observed a significant rise in the new stem cells in mice when they were made to fast for 72 hours straight.
As much as it is beneficial, Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone.
If you’re underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you should consult with a health professional first.
Also, avoid Intermittent Fasting if you are trying to conceive, are pregnant or breast-feeding.
To sum it up, IF is a very good lifestyle change to opt for a healthy living. So go ahead and try it out. Chances are you already might be doing some or the other kind of IF due to your schedule. At the same time, if you do not think fasting is your cup of tea, no worries. Continue to do what works best for you. Stay healthy, stay happy!