Fasting has been a part of various cultures and religions for centuries, but the contemporary method that is intermittent fasting has only risen to prominence in recent years.
Although recent, its popularity has skyrocketed — according to Food Navigator USA, more than 10% of a thousand Americans surveyed in 2020 were found to be actively following this diet, beating ketogenic and high-fat diets which were previous survey-toppers.
Also this diet is popular among those who want to lose weight, feel better, have more energy, protect their health, or alter their physical appearance.
Before you decide to commit to it, we’re listing down everything you need to know about intermittent fasting.
It is backed by science
Research on this way of eating has shown a variety of results. Dr. Jason Fung, who co-wrote Life in the Fasting Lane, and is known as a world-renowned fasting expert, shares that there is compelling evidence of wide-ranging health benefits, from positive effects especially on those with diabetes and metabolic disorders.
When we avoid snacking or eating a meal for a specific period, Harvard Health Publishing explains that stored sugar and fat are then released as energy, and the insulin levels in charge of storing them decrease.
When insulin levels go down far and long enough, that’s when we burn off fat cells, ultimately leading to weight loss.
There is more than one way to do it
Though all methods involve periods of staving off from food, there are different windows or fasting periods people choose from, says Healthline.
The 16/8 method or the Leangains protocol involves skipping breakfast and restricting eating periods within eight hours like 1-9 pm, fasting outside of those hours.
The eat-stop-eat method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, such as not eating from one evening until the next.
Lastly, the 5:2 method requires you to consume only 500-600 calories for two separate days of the week, but eat as you normally would on the other days.
These methods are the most popular choices of intermittent fasting.
It does not work for everybody
The methods sound simple and reasonable, but every person is different and this type of fasting might not work for everyone.
A study published in the journal Appetite revealed that some participants undergoing intermittent fasting had the tendency to consume 6% more than usual during meals as compared to their usual intake.
This is also something we pointed out in our blog post ‘Overeating: Tips, Prevention, and Solution’ — sometimes skipping meals can lead to physical weakness especially for those with active lifestyles.
For others, skipping meals in the morning causes them to overeat at night.
There are many factors that come into play when determining whether or not this kind of method is for you; even self-control, discipline, and moods are deciding factors.
Followers consider it a lifestyle, not a diet
Rather than seeing this as a diet, it’s essentially an eating pattern that is sustainable for the long term, and weight loss is just a by-product of improved mental and physical health.
Intermittent fasting also lets people eat whatever they want to eat, so long as it’s healthy, of course.
There is no fixed diet, which gives you a lot of versatility when planning meals.
Planning fewer meals can also help you be more particular with what goes into them, and frees up time for you to focus on other things.
Intermittent fasting may or may not be for you, but you can always try it for yourself. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor, especially if you have dietary restrictions.
Ultimately, it’s a simpler lifestyle change that can definitely improve your well-being, if it’s the right fit for you.