Have a hard time committing to the daily low-calorie diets for the sake of shedding off a few pounds?
With intermittent fasting, you can now choose to eat ‘normally’ for the day and lose weight simultaneously! It sounds too good to be true, and it is!
Instead of emphasizing what you should eat or should not eat, intermittent fasting is about when to eat.
Read on to find out more about intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves alternating between the eating and fasting periods on a regular schedule. The fasting period is varied, depending on the type of intermittent fasting method you have chosen to commit. It includes fasting for several hours, days, or at a time.
How does it work?
Intermittent fasting works by burning the body stored fat to achieve weight loss.
During the first few hours after you eat, your body will generate energy from the primary energy source, such as glucose. It comes from the carbohydrates, such as rice, bread, milk, pasta, fruits, and certain vegetables. The excess or leftover glucose will then be stored in your liver and muscles for later use.
After 4 to 16 hours from your last meal, the body will be in a phase, where all those stored nutrients will be used to generate energy. Once the body exhausts its glucose and nutrients stores, it will start to rely on stored fat to supply energy. This is where the fat-burning process begins.
Common types of intermittent fasting
The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 fasting method involves limiting the eating period to 8 hours and fasts for another 16 hours every day. For instance, you start your first meal at 10 am, and you may have other meals between 10 am to 6 pm. Without any food from 6 pm onwards till the next day morning, 10 am, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours. You may also adjust your eating period based on the times that suit your daily routine, such as 8 am to 4 pm or 12 pm to 8 pm, etc.
One good thing about the 16/8 method is that there is no calorie restriction during the eating period. (Yes, food lovers, we heard you!) During the fasting period, you can drink water or zero-calorie beverages to prevent dehydration.
Most people found the 16/8 fasting method the easiest to commit than the traditional calorie-restrictive diet or others eating patterns that involved a longer fasting period. Thus, the 16/8 is an ideal fasting method to start with for all beginners.
The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days and restricting your calorie intake to 500 for two days a week. For example, you choose your fasting day on Tuesday and Saturday. On that specific two days, you should eat no more than 500 calories, whereas, on the remaining five days of the week, you can eat normally.
As your calorie intake is reduced to no more than 500 calories a day, it is recommended to spread out the fasting days instead of doing it consecutively. It is also recommended to split your 500 calories throughout your fasting day, for instance, not more than 250 calories for two meals.
Alternate Day Fasting
Eat normally and fast every other day is another type of intermittent fasting method.
The modified alternate-day fasting allows limiting daily calorie intake of 500 on the fasting day. Another version of alternate-day fasting goes with zero-calorie intake, which means completely abstaining from food on the fasting day. Due to the extremity of alternate-day fasting, it can be less sustainable than the other fasting methods. Hence, beginners should think twice before committing to this method.
So, is it effective?
In 2015, a study monitoring subjects' eating patterns via a smartphone app has found that healthy overweight individuals who reduced their eating interval to 10 to 12 hours without an overt attempt to change nutrition had lost weight. The result also reported improvement in sleep satisfaction, less hunger at bedtime and increased energy levels in the subjects. The benefits persisted for a year.1
Another study involving the obese population has shown that limiting food intake to 8 hours (10 am to 6 pm) every day for 12 weeks has reduced body weight by approximately 3%. Moreover, the subjects in the time-restricted feeding group has a significant reduction in blood pressure, which suggested the potential benefit of this fasting regimen in reducing the risk factor of metabolic diseases.2
In contrast, another study has shown that the reduction in body weight between the time-restricted feeding group and the control group is the same. However, the body fat percentage of the participants in the time-restricted feeding regimen was lower compared to the control group. The reduction in body fat percentage is mainly due to the decreased daily energy intake.3
On the other hand, the 5:2 diet is equally effective as continuous calorie restriction in reducing body weight and preventing metabolic diseases, as confirmed in a study.4 Similarly, a meta-analysis has also suggested alternate fasting as a viable approach to weight loss and improvement in risk indicators for diseases in obese or healthy people.5
Apart from weight loss, intermittent fasting is also beneficial for patients with Type II diabetes and heart health issue. A research review found that patients with Type II diabetes or metabolic syndrome who were overweight or obese had significant weight loss and improvement in their fasting insulin and lipid profile after committing to intermittent fasting.6 Besides, several studies have also confirmed the potential of intermittent fasting in reducing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol triglyceride and systolic blood pressure.7,8,9
To sum up, intermittent fasting is effective in lowering your body weight. The advantages do not end there. Additional health benefits such as improvement in fasting insulin, lipid profile and blood pressure levels are also linked with intermittent fasting.6 Given these promising outcomes from research studies, intermittent fasting can help you achieve desired body weight and reduce your risks of developing metabolic syndrome.
How Nourished fits into your intermittent fasting plan?
Nourished has introduced various bundle packages to accommodate different health goals and needs.
The Meal Replacement bundle consists of low-calorie plant-based pea protein powder (only 56 kcal per serving), which makes it an ideal option for those who are on the 500 calories fasting periods, such as 5:2 diets and alternate fasting. Green tea extract and digestive enzymes are also added to this bundle to provide antioxidant support and aid in digestion. This bundle can also serve as a healthy drink in-between the eating period for those who go with the 16/8 fasting method.
Check out the Peak Performance and Optimum Recovery bundles if you’re going to put some effort to hit the gym or engaging in any exercises while on your intermittent fasting regimen. These bundles are specially designed with ingredients such as branched-chain amino acids, L-carnitine, pea protein isolate, green tea extract and green coffee extract to help boost your energy for peak performance and speed up your muscle recovery, especially after strenuous exercises.
Take Home Messages
Intermittent fasting is a safe and viable approach to managing your body weight and improving your overall health. However, it’s not for everyone. For example:
- Children and teenagers under age 18
- Those who are trying to conceive, or pregnant and breastfeeding
- Those who are underweight
- Those with a history of eating disorders
If you have a medical condition or are currently under medications, you should always seek advice from your doctor before taking on any fasting plan.
Intermittent fasting does not restrict your calorie during the eating period, but it does not mean you should go crazy or binge during the eating period to compensate for your ‘loss’. Continue to opt for healthier food choices and incorporate exercise in your daily routine to improve health.