Intermittent fasting is a method of eating that involves only consuming food (or drink) in small periods throughout the day. You may have heard about it before and wondered if it would be right for you, but never actually tried it because you weren’t sure how to do it or why it was even good for you. Well, we’re here to answer your questions! Read on to learn all about intermittent fasting–and whether or not you should give it a shot.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
You’ve probably seen articles online about “eating windows” and “time-restricted feeding.” That’s the same thing as intermittent fasting. In intermittent fasting, you eat a controlled number of calories each day, typically between 500 and 1,200 calories. The length of time you fast varies from person to person. Some people fast 16 hours per day; others fast just two hours. It doesn’t matter what kind of schedule you choose. What matters most is giving your body enough time to rest during these fasting periods.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
When you go without food for longer periods of time, your body will begin to slow down its metabolism. This makes sense when you think about it. Your body needs energy to function at its highest capacity. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, your body slows down because it knows there isn’t enough fuel available to keep functioning properly. To compensate for this, your body will start storing fats instead of burning them off.
This is where the benefits come into play. By slowing your metabolism down, you’ll burn more fat than you would if you were simply trying to lose weight by cutting back on your calories. Also, by fasting during times when you are supposed to be sleeping, you’ll get more quality sleep because you won’t need as much energy to stay awake through the night.
How Long Should I Fast Each Day?
There really isn’t one right answer to this question. Some people find that they can cut their caloric intake by almost half while still losing weight. Others find that they need to eat more for optimal results. As with many things in life, it depends.
The key to intermittent fasting is finding the right balance of food consumption and calorie reduction. If you cut too much out of your diet, you could end up getting hungry again sooner than you want and possibly overeat. However, if you cut too few calories, you could end up feeling even hungrier. There’s no way to know exactly how much you should eat until you try it out yourself, so experiment with various amounts every day for a few weeks. Then, once you figure out which amount works best for you, stick with it.
Are There Any Side Effects/Risks Associated With Intermittent Fasting?
As with any new dietary practice, there are some risks involved with intermittent fasting. Here are a couple of the main ones:
It’s possible that you’ll become very hungry during the first week or two when you start fasting. It’s also possible that you’ll feel less hunger after a few days. Either way, make sure you have options for eating snacks in case you do get ravenous.
2.) Weight Loss Pause
If you are doing a lot of exercise along with intermittent fasting, you may notice you aren’t losing as much weight as usual. Don’t worry, though! Just because you aren’t dropping pounds like crazy does not mean you stopped burning fat. In fact, you’ll likely continue burning fat as you do other exercises, such as walking or swimming.
3.) Low Energy
Although you might experience low energy levels when you first start fasting, this usually goes away within a few days. It’s important to remember that your body is going through some pretty big changes with intermittent fasting. It’s not uncommon for your energy levels to decrease temporarily. Just make sure you have something extra for those times when you feel tired.
Some people have reported that they have trouble falling asleep due to the lack of sleep caused by fasting. If you struggle with sleep issues, you may want to consider skipping the fasting period altogether.
5.) Increased Stress Levels
Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase stress levels in both men and women. One study showed that the effect was particularly strong among men who had previously struggled with obesity. This increased stress wasn’t necessarily bad, however, since it may help fight against fat storage.
6.) Muscle Loss
Intermittent fasting has been linked to muscle loss in some studies. However, the evidence is conflicting, and it’s difficult to say whether or not you should expect noticeable muscle loss.
Although you shouldn’t expect cravings when you first start intermittent fasting, they have been reported in some individuals. If you experience cravings, take them seriously. They could indicate the beginning of a weight gain cycle. Try to avoid skipping meals when you do start experiencing cravings. Instead, eat a snack and then wait an hour or two before you resume fasting. This will allow your body to readjust itself to the absence of food.
This can happen when you drastically reduce your daily fluid intake. Although constipation is rarely a major health issue, it’s always best to avoid it whenever possible. Drink plenty of water, or try adding some leafy green vegetables to your diet. This will help keep you regular.
Although this is rare, it’s possible that you could experience diarrhea if you start fasting and suddenly stop drinking liquids. If this happens to you, make sure you drink plenty of fluids and see a doctor immediately.
10.) Weight Gain
Although intermittent fasting has been shown to suppress appetite, studies suggest it may cause you to gain weight over time. While this hasn’t been proven yet, it’s possible that weight loss may eventually turn into weight gain.
11.) Stomach Problems
Frequent headaches, nausea, and vomiting have also been reported by some individuals. These symptoms have been attributed to dehydration, which is common when you fast.
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All in all, intermittent fasting has some potential risks. However, these risks are fairly minimal compared to the risks associated with conventional diets. Plus, unlike conventional diets, intermittent fasting provides you with a variety of ways to improve your health.
So, intermittent fasting may sound scary, but it’s definitely worth trying. Give intermittent fasting a try for six months, and you may discover that it helps you live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight faster than you ever thought possible.