Sport & Nutrition

Can intermittent fasting change your life?

You may have heard of intermittent fasting (IF) in recent years as a popular weight loss fad diet. This dietary pattern has been practiced for centuries worldwide. It has been shown to offer myriad health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease. However, IF is much more than a way to drop a few pounds. This article will explore what intermittent fasting is, the different types of fasting, and how fasting can improve heart health.

What is Intermittent Fasting? 
Intermittent fasting is not a diet in the traditional sense where you restrict certain foods or food groups. Instead, it is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and periods of eating. There are many different ways to do intermittent fasting, but the most common method is to fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours each day by skipping breakfast, eating only lunch and dinner, or eating one meal daily. Other methods involve more prolonged periods of fasting, such as 24 hours or 36 hours, followed by more extended periods of eating. When doing intermittent fasting, you should still eat healthy foods and not overeat during your eating window. 

Types of Fasting 
5:2 Fasting
This type of fasting involves eating normally for 5 days out of the week and then eating only 500-600 calories on the other 2 days. This method is said to help promote weight loss and improve metabolism. There are many different types of intermittent fasting, but some of the most common include the following:
Time-Restricted Fasting
Time-restricted fasting involves restricting your eating to a particular time window each day. For example, you may eat only between 8 am and 8 pm. This type of fasting is said to help promote weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammation. 
Overnight Fasting
Overnight fasting avoids food for 12 or more hours overnight. This type of fasting is said to help promote weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammation. 
Eat Stop Eat
Eat stop eat is a form of intermittent fasting where you fast for 24 hours, once or twice weekly. For example, you would eat dinner on Monday night and then only eat again on Tuesday. This method is said to help promote weight loss and increase body mass index (BMI). 
Whole-day fasting
It involves consuming only water and non-caloric beverages for an entire day. This type of fasting is said to help promote weight loss, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce inflammation.
Alternate-Day Fasting
Studies have shown that alternate-day fasting can help reduce weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. It is a type of fasting where you usually eat one day and then consume only 25% of your average calorie intake the next day. This cycle repeats over and over. Let's take a look at some of the ways fasting can be beneficial.

Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off
If you are looking to lose weight, then fasting may be a good option for you. In one study, participants who fasted lost an average of 3% of their body weight after 12 weeks, while those who didn't only lose 1%. What's more, the participants who fasted were also more likely to keep the weight off after 12 months than those who didn't fast. When you fast, your body uses stored glucose for energy, which means you will burn fat for fuel.

Fasting Can Decrease Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, so anything we can do to decrease our risk is worth considering. Studies have shown that fasting can help lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammation. The primary mechanism behind the heart health benefits of fasting is its ability to reduce  insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body's cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar and fat levels. When insulin resistance occurs, blood sugar and fat levels stay elevated, leading to an increased risk of heart disease. Fasting helps reduce insulin resistance, which can help lower the risk of heart disease.
Additionally, it increases levels of  HDL ("good") cholesterol while lowering levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Finally, some evidence suggests that intermittent fasting may increase lifespan by reducing oxidative damage and inflammation throughout the body. So if you're looking for a way to improve your heart health, IF may be worth considering! 

Tips to start fasting
The first step is to choose which type of fast you want to do. There are many different types of fasting, from water to intermittent fasting and everything in between. Once you've decided which fast is right for you, it's time to start preparing your body. For the next week or so, gradually reduce your calorie intake so your body can adjust. Drink plenty of water and get adequate sleep so your body is well-rested and hydrated going into the fast. 
Additionally, beginning to fast gradually will help minimize potential side effects like headaches or irritability. Also, ensure you have plenty of easily digestible foods for breaking your fast. Think soups, smoothies, and lightly cooked vegetables. You'll likely be quite ravenous after not eating for an extended period, so it's best to have something easy on your stomach so that you don't overdo it and make yourself sick. Most importantly, listen to your body during the fast. If you feel faint or unwell at any point, breaking the fast is always the best option. Eating something is better than pushing yourself too far and making yourself sick.

Intermittent fasting is an increasingly popular dietary pattern that offers numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease. If you're interested in trying IF, there are many different ways to do it - talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist to find an approach that's right for you!

Respectfully yours,