Over the past couple of years Intermittent Fasting(IF) has been the buzz word for health conscious individuals. From athletes to celebrities sharing their success stories by using IF, it has become quite a rage. From losing weight to improved cognitive function IF has wide spectrum of benefits. Let’s dive right into the world of IF.
Intermittent means something that occurs at irregular intervals and isn’t continuous or steady. Fasting as we know means abstaining from eating or drinking over a period of time. So put together, Intermittent Fasting(IF) simply means abstaining from food intake for a period of time followed by a period of eating. IF is a conscious time based approach that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It’s not a diet in itself as there’s no particular restriction on what types of food to eat. There are many different types of IF that one can adopt. 16:8 is the most widely practiced form of IF. In the 16:8 approach there is a 16 hour fasting window and 8 hours eating window over the span of 24 hours. There is nothing fixed really and depends on person to person on what they are comfortable to begin with. 18:6 approach which has 18 hours of fasting window and 6 hours eating window is regarded as having the Autophagy benefits. Autophagy is the process wherein the cell recycles itself and is important for balancing sources of energy at critical times in development and in response to nutrient stress. It helps in looking younger and increasing the life span. People are experimenting with OMAD(one meal a day) as well but that is way too extreme for someone who wants to start IF.
The biggest benefit of IF is that it lowers Insulin levels in the body. Higher levels of Insulin is the root cause of many diseases, IF increases Insulin sensitivity thereby improving the overall health. Every time we eat Insulin is spiked up and anyone who eats frequently has increased insulin levels which is catastrophic in the long run to one’s health. There is also a lot of digestive stress when we eat frequently, so by adopting IF that digestive stress is lowered and the body is able to utilize and absorb that food more efficiently. For people who are obese IF is a great starting point in shedding the excess fat which is detrimental to their health and well being. Latest researches have also proved that there is an increased cognitive function for someone who practices IF. Someone who is under some sort of medication should consult their doctors prior to starting IF otherwise for wide majority of people this should be okay to adopt.
Our ancestors naturally lived like this wherein they ate at most two meals a day which were well spread between late mornings and timely early dinners. As the food became abundant and with the rising social obligations, food habits suffered. Snacking between meals became more prevalent and as a result the Insulin levels are perpetually high thereby the human body became more susceptible to illnesses. There are various methods by which IF can be more effective by combining it with the right foods but even if someone who doesn’t want to go down that road, to start with only practicing IF can do wonders to their health. Once one starts to feel the health benefits of IF, it is a natural progression to combine IF with other effective tools like a healthy Ketogenic diet. Given the wide spectrum of benefits of Intermittent Fasting which are backed by some serious science one would affirm that it isn’t just a health fad rather a move from compulsive eating habits to more conscious ones and is here to stay.