Intermittent Fasting is the New Keto! In other words, it’s one of the most popular nutrition trends in the world right now. People adopt it to lose weight and improve their health while simplifying their lifestyle. Yes, this diet is not difficult to follow at all and many studies show that it can be very beneficial for the body. It may even help us live longer! Here’s how to make the most of it…
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a type of eating program that alternates between phases of eating stop and crusting phases. Most often they will rotate two to three times a week within the 24-hour timeframe, but other variations are acceptable. Because this meal plan does not prohibit any foods or exceed specific amounts, it is not a diet in the traditional sense. But why this new fashion?
In fact, fasting is nothing new. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators, or groceries that were available all year round. Sometimes they couldn’t find food for long periods of time and they evolved from the ability to function through fasting. When you think about it, fasting every once in a while is more natural than eating 3 or more meals a day. It is also practiced for religious or spiritual reasons in Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. But today we will not talk about Lent.
Which method to use?
There are several ways to practice intermittent fasting, all of which involve dividing the day or week into periods of eating and fasting. During the period of fasting one does not eat anything and only drinks water, tea or coffee without additives. A popular interpretation of the idea is to fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. Another variation, 5:2, suggests that we eat just 500 to 600 calories for two non-consecutive days of the week and eat the other 5 normally.
But arguably the most widely practiced intermittent fasting is the so-called 16/8, also known as the Leangains Protocol, and aims to limit our eating time to 8 hours. For example, between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. we eat 2.3 or even 4 times, but then fast for 16 hours. Similarly, according to many practitioners, the 16/8 schedule is the most beneficial and easiest to stick to in the long run.
What are the health benefits?
Many studies have been conducted on intermittent fasting, both in animals and in humans. Research has shown that it can dramatically improve your health, including brain health, and can be a powerful ally in the so-called weight loss battle. Not only does it have the potential to speed up a sluggish metabolism and add years to our lifespans*, it can also:
- fight belly fat accumulation without overly restricting calories
- lower blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin by 20-31%, protecting us from type 2 diabetes
- fight the inflammation behind many chronic diseases
- reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol and improve our overall heart health
- prevent certain types of cancer cells from forming
- stimulate the secretion of the brain hormone BDNF, promote the growth of new nerve cells and protect against Alzheimer’s disease
*Clinical studies (second link at the bottom of the page) have shown that intermittent fasting can increase the lifespan of rats by 36-83%!
16/8 intermittent fasting and losing weight
Honestly, weight loss is the most common reason people try intermittent fasting. Not only does it lower blood sugar and insulin levels, which can be beneficial for weight loss, but it also increases the release of norepinephrine, a fat-burning hormone. But just because you don’t eat 16 hours out of 24 doesn’t mean you’ll automatically lose weight… What you eat during the other 8 hours is just as important, if not more important. So what would my typical intermittent fasting schedule look like? What foods can you eat almost without moderation?
First meal, around 12:00pm: choice of quality meat accompanied by seasonal salad, integral pasta with pesto sauce, a Buddha bowl with homemade hummus, avocado and raw vegetables, or lentil soup with a few slices of turkey ham on the side. These are just a few examples of delicacies that you can enjoy without regrets after Lent.
Snack between 3pm and 4pm: nuts, dried fruits and seeds, plate of vegetables and fresh fruits, seasonal fruit smoothie, Bulgarian yoghurt with muesli, etc.
Dinner, around 7 p.m.: Salmon and sautéed vegetables, spinach omelette, broccoli with cheese, or large quinoa salad with avocado and fresh vegetables, among many others.
Sources used: www.healthline.com