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Want to try out intermittent fasting? Here’s a beginner’s guide
10 November 2020
A health and fitness trend that is doing rounds on the internet and popular among celebrities and commoners is intermittent fasting. It’s considered to be one the fastest way to lose weight and to improve overall health by simplifying your eating habits. And while there are different versions of intermittent fasting, 16/8 is the most prevalent, as it is easy, convenient and sustainable.
What is 16/8 intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern with time-restricted eating. This means you have a ‘fasting’ time and a ‘feeding’ time. During the feeding period, you can eat all your regular meals for the day, and during the fasting period, you can’t eat or drink anything besides water.
As mentioned earlier, there are many types of intermittent fasting based on the hours of fasting and feeding periods. In 16/8 intermittent fasting, you fast for 16 hours and eat during the remaining 8-hour window.
Getting started- what to eat and when?
If you’re looking to reap all the health benefits of intermittent fasting, here’s what you have to do:
Pick the hours you will fast - Try scheduling your fasting period in a way that it covers parts of the day you tend to feel less hungry or are less likely to eat. Otherwise, you might overeat during your eating window or be tempted to break your fast too early. For example, if breakfast is your most important meal, you can choose to eat from 9 am to 5 pm. If you plan to eat a late breakfast and an early dinner, you can set your window from 11 am to 7 pm. The most common hours for the eating window are 12 pm to 8 pm, as some people aren’t usually that hungry in the morning as compared to the rest of the day. However, any window is fine, as long as it works for you based on your sleep time and work schedule.
Food and diet - While there are no strict rules about a healthy diet during intermittent fasting, it’s advisable to consume nutritious food. That being said, if your intermittent fasting goal is weight loss, it’s good to be mindful of what you consume during your eating window. A bad diet can offset the metabolic benefits of intermittent fasting. Focus on a nutritious, well-balanced diet and reduce your sugar intake to speed up fat loss. Leave junk food for an occasional indulgence. This is the key to maintaining good energy levels throughout the day and optimum weight. Besides this, physical activity is a must; whether it’s exercise from home, running or brisk walking.
Tip: Consuming healthy fatty foods like avocado, fish, nuts and seeds, olive oil, etc. are satisfying and make intermittent fasting a lot easier and sustainable.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting not only helps you achieve your fitness goals but even contributes to a few other health benefits:
· It helps reduce hypertension
· Improves heart health
· Enhances mental health
· Reduces stress
· Reduces inflammation
· Reduces insulin resistance thereby protection from type two diabetes
· Increases energy levels
· Elevates your mood
· Reduces obesity
Is intermittent fasting right for you?
While intermittent fasting works for some, it is not a good fit for everybody. If you fall into any one of these categories, you should avoid it:
1. If you’re suffering from an eating disorder
Intermittent fasting requires you to practice a restrictive eating window with discipline, which may not be healthy and safe for people with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and others. It’s best to consult a professional before you change your eating habits in such cases.
2. If you’re pregnant
Pregnancy is a time when your body changes and grows. Besides, when you’re eating for two, you need to follow a healthy diet that’s loaded with plenty of nutrients, so you and the baby are healthy. Also, the food you eat contributes to the brain and body development of the baby. And intermittent fasting may deprive both of calories and nutrition, and your decreased blood sugar levels may deplete your energy. Therefore, keep away from any fasting when carrying a baby.
3. If you have type-one diabetes
A prolonged fasting window can affect blood sugar levels and even lower them to a dangerous level. So, if you have diabetes, follow a regular, healthy diet with nutritious meals. The same applies to those with chronic health problems and low immunity.
4. If you’re training
If you’re an athlete who engages in regular training; you need constant energy supply and may have a diet plan recommended by your coach to suit your fitness needs. And intermittent fasting that involves fixed fasting and eating periods may not work out for you. Also, with intermittent fasting, you may not get the required amount of calories to enhance your training and recovery.
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