Do you feel as if you’ve tried every type of food plan out there and you just aren’t feeling healthier or losing the weight you’d like? “IF” might be for you!
IF, or Intermittent Fasting, is the concept of cycling between periods of regular eating and fasting, where you severely restrict your calorie intake, or don’t consume any food at all. The time frame for this is generally 16-24 hours. There are many different variations of IF: some set a calorie limit, such as 500 calories, on their “restrict time… others don’t eat at all… some will only allow themselves a particular type of food, such as fruits and vegetables.
As far as scheduling IF, this can be as varied as the way people consume food. Some people opt to consume all their calories for a day within an 8 hour window, and do this every day. Others may follow the 5:2 rule, which is five days of normal eating, and two days of fasting, not back to back, following one of the eating schedules above.
Many people swear by this method of eating, claiming that it gives them ability to eat whatever they want. Critics are cautious for the same reason: they feel the focus is too much on calories and not about actual healthy eating. Really, at the end of the day and same as every other weight loss plan or healthy eating plan, it depends on the individual and what they commit to.
Whether you are pro IF or con IF, below are a list of evidence-based benefits you can garner from IF:
- When you fast, insulin levels drop and human growth hormone increases.
- Intermittent fasting helps you eat fewer calories (generally speaking… if someone eats way more food to compensate, this will not occur), while boosting metabolism slightly. It is a very effective tool to lose weight and belly fat.
- Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels in men.
- Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. This should have benefits against aging and development of numerous diseases.
- Studies show that intermittent fasting can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
- Fasting triggers a metabolic pathway called autophagy, which removes waste material from cells.
- Intermittent fasting has been shown to help prevent cancer in animal studies. One paper in humans showed that it can reduce side effects caused by chemotherapy.
- Intermittent fasting may have important benefits for brain health. It may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage.
- Studies in animals suggest that intermittent fasting may be protective against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease.
The easiest way to start an IF eating plan is to skip breakfast or your meal at the end of the evening. Have two meals a day within an eight-hour period, along with your snacks. If anyone has given this a try, we’d love to hear from you!