“He that eats till he is sick must fast till he is well” - A novel physician, 1732 - In a modern-day world, we are asked to eat food every 2 to 3 hours to increase our metabolism. We are advised that eating every 2 hours will increase our metabolism. But does eating every few hours help us in increasing metabolism is still questionable. Eating every 3 hours will increase metabolism is still questionable but it is certain that eating frequently will add to the calorie budget of the day by over consumption.
One must move every 3 hours instead of eating every few hours. Overconsumption of food leads to metabolic stress by building excess fat in our body specially around the organs and it also increase insulin resistance. When we provide limited amount of food to our body, our body adapts to function or work at a higher level both physically and mentally. Break from food allows some people an opportunity to pause and reflect on the role food is playing in their lives. Fasting improves the overall wellbeing of an individual. Any crash diet you follow you will not be able to stick to it for long, even a restricted fast isn’t possible to follow for a long period of time and there is a chance for a relapse. Intermittent fasting is a change in your pattern of eating, by adjusting your time. Our body at rest runs out of glycogen stores ( fuel from carbohydrates at 12 hours to 36 hours of when we stop eating. So, our body switches to fat for source of energy, we call it a “metabolic switch” this is the reason why a recommended 16 hours of fast is advised during Intermittent fasting.
What is Intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern of meals in which individuals go without eating food for 12- 16 hours and has an eating window period of 6 hours only. Here is a generic intermittent diet plan that one can follow to start with! Below is the diet plan that you can try to start with Intermittent fasting for weight loss:
When we are in fasted state, what can we eat or drink?
During fasted state which is non eating window of 16 hours, one is allowed to drink plain water, herbal teas like chamomile tea, rose tea, ginger tea, black teas etc. with no sugar or jaggery added, one can also drink fresh vegetable juice. During the 16 hours, one is not allowed to have calorie containing foods or snacks including vegetables and fruits.
What is a beginner's guide to Intermittent fast?
For beginners it is suggested that you aim for 12 hours fast from your last meal and build it to 14 hours and then push it to 16 hours. Gradually increase your fasted state / non eating stage and keep yourself hydrated with water to avoid headache.
How frequently one must do Intermittent fast?
Intermittent fasting can be practiced every day for 30 days – 60 days for people who are trying to lose weight and people who are trying to maintain weight or would like to practice this for longevity and improved health, they can practice this 2 days a week as well.
What are the benefits of Intermittent fasting?
There are scientific evidences that intermittent fasting helps in weight reduction, assists in reducing ageing, improves cardiovascular health, improves brain function, increases life span of an individual, as it reduces inflammation in the body, improves insulin resistance, controls blood sugars in type 2 diabetes and prevent many lifestyle related health issues.
How does this type of fasting help us lose weight?
Our body spends 70-80% required energy in digestion process and only 20% of energy is left for our body to heal, so when you are fasting, you give energy to your body to repair. It also brings serum insulin levels down which means- it lowers insulin resistance which helps in reducing fat. Restricting calories to eating in certain window also helps in reducing appetite and reduces calorie intake from extra snacks.
Is there any side effect of this fast?
As long as you are hydrated and eat nutritious and well-balanced meal plan in your eating window, you do not have any side effect. One must understand, it is not a calorie restricted diet plan, it is a systematic approach to an eating pattern.
How is this fast different from other types of fast?
We hear about dry fast, 24 hours fast, ekadashi fast, somavar fast and many more. Intermittent fasting mimics eating patterns similar to Ramadan fast. Most fasts give restricted calories but intermittent fast restricts the timings of the meal. Some fasts refrain from eating certain foods, whereas Intermittent fast doesn’t restrict food intake, as long as food is nutritionally balanced you are allowed to eat. Most of other fasts are calorie restricted but Intermittent fast can be followed for a long period of time as it isn’t restrictive in calories. Usually, people eat more the next day when they usually fast but during intermittent fasting cravings for hunger is less.
When we should avoid fast?
People on certain medications like insulin, cancer, unable to gain weight, breastfeeding mothers, pregnant woman, have low blood pressure and are on certain medications must avoid Intermittent fasting or must consult your doctor before starting it. Also, if you are unwell you must avoid any type of fast. Also, eating extremely heavy meals after dinner can lead to fatgain.
What foods should we eat in our eating window period?
During eating window, you can eat fruits, vegetables, millets, oats, brown rice, lentils, pulses, lean chicken, eggs, nuts, milk and milk products. You can incorporate range of foods in eating window.
On an ending note, I would to suggest that people with underactive thyroid can also do intermittent fast but I suggest if you have any medical complications please refer to your doctor.
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