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The Art of Not Eating: Fasting 101

You’ve heard of low-carb diets, juicing, and veganism. Right now though, the “diet” that’s doing the rounds in health circles is intermittent fasting, AKA skipping food entirely for a good number of hours. Time to find out if this no-food diet can actually work for you!

The current buzzword in fitness and health is a “diet” plan called intermittent fasting. “Diet” is a loose term for it, because intermittent fasting is more of an eating schedule, and has become the choice of many as the most effective way of losing fat. It’s not about what kind of food you eat, but rather when you eat it.

For those who haven’t come across intermittent fasting in their social media feeds, here’s what it’s about. I.F. is going on cycles of not eating and eating, which would be a period of fasting and a period of “feasting” so it’s called, for a set number of hours per day or per week.

 

 

CHOOSE YOUR I.F.

a. The 16:8

This method is the most popular and easiest route for most. It’s simply having a 16-hour fast period, and an 8-hour feasting period. Most people have their feasting periods between 12 noon to 8pm, which is perfect for 3 light meals, and a good night’s sleep afterwards. Adjust the feast and fast periods according to your lifestyle.

b. The 24:2

This schedule is going on a 24-hour fast twice a week, and eating normally for the rest of the week. Most people eat an early dinner, and break the fast by having their next meal as dinner the next day.

c. The 5:2

This is an eating schedule where you are required to count calories. It’s eating 500-600 calories for two consecutive days, then eating normally for the other 5 days of the week.

d. Alternate-day

This is the type that allows you to eat normally one day (or to your heart’s content) and makes you aim for just 25% of the calories that you normally take on the next. Suggested meals to cover the 25% are strictly proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats. Beware though, for eating “normally” may tend to make you eat more than what you actually need. Proceed with caution!

 

 

WHY DO IT?

Aside from weight loss, other claims relating to overall health and well-being have also been related to intermittent fasting. Weight loss is gained through I.F. by lessening your caloric intake. Though it is said that there are absolutely no restrictions for what you eat during the feasting period, I.F. is made more effective if you choose healthy, nutritious food to properly nourish yourself even if you take in less calories. There is much talk about I.F. also changing hormonal patterns, leading to an increased metabolic rate. It is also linked to lower insulin levels and reducing cholesterol. With all the research in its early stages, intermittent fasting’s benefits to our health may still come up as information progresses, but the knowledge at hand has made it popular. It’s not only effective, but highly doable and sustainable.

Marc Nelson, known for his attention to health and fitness, says that intermittent fasting is a lifestyle change that has proven to be easy to maintain. “This has helped me maintain a “beach body” shape even with my busy schedule and all the travelling I do.” Intermittent fasting helps because “your food is getting completely digested and the body burns off excess fat storage as energy during the latter hours of your fast.”

 

 

SHOULD I DO IT?

As with any meal or exercise plan, it’s always best to get the guidance of a medical and fitness expert. If you have any medical conditions, such as eating disorders, gastric problems, diabetes, or taking medication for pre-existing conditions, then it might not be a good idea to try it without proper medical advice.

If you do decide to go for it, start with the most manageable method (most will say it’s the 16:8). You can even start with a 12-hour window and work your way up to 16 hours. While on the fast, be mindful about your food choices, taking care not to overindulge during your feasting period, which would totally negate the benefit of having a lower caloric intake. Listen to your body and how your react, physically, mentally, emotionally. Pair IF with a fitness regimen to keep your strength and endurance.

The bottom line is, nothing beats a healthy diet supported by a solid cardio and strength fitness regimen. While weight loss is great, it’s good to keep strength, endurance and well-being as goals for a healthy lifestyle. Intermittent fasting is a tool towards a lifestyle change, one that you can hopefully maintain.

 

 

This article originally appeared in Metro May 2018 and was repurposed for Metro.Style
Photos via Pexels and Unsplash