“Intermittent fasting can take many different forms but it always involves periods where you are taking in very little food, at regular intervals,” said the BBC. The two most popular fasting patterns are 16:8 and 5:2. On a 16:8 plan, you eat all your meals within an eight-hour window, often from noon to 8 pm, and fast for the remaining 16 hours. The 16:8 plan is the most popular IF option because it tends to be the easiest to stick to. A 5:2 fast involves eating normally for five days out of the week and fasting on the other two non-consecutive days. The fasting days are not without food, but rather, they are restricted to 25% of your normal calories. If you typically eat 2,000 calories in a day, you would consume 500 calories on the fasting days.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, and not everyone will see the same benefits. It’s important to carefully consider what’s right for you given your health, your commitment level, and your other lifestyle factors. These doss and don’ts will help.
The Dos and Don’ts of Intermittent Fasting
If you have underlying health conditions or are on certain medications, your doctor may recommend another type of diet. "When it comes to the safety of intermittent fasting, this diet can have the opposite effect on your health," Patricia Bannan, RD, a nutritionist and healthy cooking expert in Los Angeles, told LIVESTRONG. "For example, people with low blood sugar need glucose throughout the day and fasting for periods can have dangerous effects."
Do: Check with your doctor.
Even if you have the doctor’s permission to try IF, your body may tell you it’s not a good fit. If you’re experiencing periods of severe low energy, dizziness, headaches, or upset stomach related to your eating plan, it might be time to call it quits—or at least think about making changes to your methods. You also want to make sure you listen to your body when it comes to your workouts while doing IF. Certain workouts, like high-intensity interval training (HIIT), or Crossfit Training, for instance, may be too difficult to get through if your body hasn’t been properly fueled. It may be that you need to take it easier on yourself on the days you are fasting, or change your workout time so you have the energy level to push you through.
Don’t: Ignore what your body is telling you.
Dry fasting, which includes staying away from both food and water, is getting some attention recently. But, doctors say this is very dangerous and potentially even deadly. “A new fad diet making the rounds on wellness influencer Instagram won’t help you lose weight. And it could cause dehydration, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, organ failure — even death,” said the Los Angeles Times. “It’s called ‘dry fasting.’ It goes beyond what most of us would consider fasting—abstaining from solid food or liquid calories—and requires consuming no water or liquids of any kind for many hours or even days at a time.”
Do: Drink plenty of fluids.
If you are bingeing during your eating window and exceeding a typical calorie level, you might not see results. One of the tricks to successful IF is eating within a reasonable calorie range when you’re not fasting. Learn how to increase your metabolic rate and keep your body burning fat. Avoid binge eating or empty calorie foods and snacks.
Don’t: Think of your non-fasting time as a free-for-all.
The other trick is making healthy choices in terms of what you eat. There may not be any amount of fasting that can undo a poor diet. If you’re fasting for 16 hours but eating pizza and cheeseburgers for eight, you’re unlikely to get the results you seek.
Do: Make the right food choices.
It’s also important to control the amount of food you take in right after a fast. “Break the fast with something small and high in nutrients,” said Savage Wellness. “Do not dive right into a big meal as you are likely to go overboard and take in more than you need.”
Don’t: Break the fast too quickly.
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Do: Boost your fat loss potential with a product like LIPO-DREX.
As an overall approach to improved health, intermittent fasting “is a legitimate option,” according to the New England Journal of Medicine. "The state of the science on intermittent fasting has evolved to the point that it now can be considered as one approach, with exercise and healthy food, to improving and maintaining health as a lifestyle approach," senior author Mark Mattson, a neuroscientist with Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, told the Los Angeles Times. IF has grown dramatically in popularity because it offers several potential health benefits. “People are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lifestyles,” said Healthline. “Many studies show that it can have powerful effects on your body and brain and may even help you live longer.” A few of the major benefits may include:
Benefits of An Intermittent Fasting Diet
- Weight loss. According to Healthline, “Intermittent fasting is generally very successful for weight loss. It has been shown to cause weight loss of 3–8% over a period of 3–24 weeks, which is a lot compared to most weight-loss diets.”
- Reduced muscle loss. Loss of muscle tone is a common byproduct of calorie restriction, but studies show this is less prevalent with IF.
- Lower blood sugar. Studies show that IF can reduce insulin resistance, protecting against the dangers of type 2 diabetes.
- Improve heart health. Intermittent fasting may be responsible for lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol, which can lower the risk of heart disease.