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When you think about changing your eating habits, the first thing that comes to your mind is eating the right food & avoiding junk. Either it could be eating more protein, less fat & carbohydrates or eating less in general. It's always a focus on what you eat. But what if you are missing an important point? What if, along with what you eat, WHEN you eat matters?

Is it possible to lose weight, burn fat, build muscle & get healthier by just changing your timing decisions?

alarm clock in a plate

One popular food scheduling plan that has become increasingly popular in recent years is 'Intermittent Fasting.'  

The concept of intermittent fasting is to adjust your eating schedule, so you eat all your calories of the day in a stipulated time window. The other hours of your day are spent 'fasting' where you eat no food at all & the only thing you can have is water, or in some cases, black coffee. 

However, fasting is not a new concept by any means. Humans have been doing it for ages. Intermittent fasting is just a remodeling something that we already have been doing and tweaking it to achieve better results.  

meditating saint

Let us dig in a little deeper and try to understand the benefits of intermittent fasting and the different ways you can carry it out to reap the maximum results. 

Types of Intermittent Fasting 

The 16/8 Method: You need to fast for 16 hours each day & eat all your calories in the remaining 8 hours. 

The 5:2 Diet: You need to completely fast for two days a week. 

Alternate Day Fasting: You fast every other day. 

The Warrior Diet: You need to fast for 20 hours each day & eat all your calories in the remaining 4 hours slot. 

Spontaneous Meal Skipping: You need to skip meals whenever convenient. 

As you can see, there are many ways to go about intermittent fasting. This is what makes it sometimes confusing for the people and becomes challenging to understand how effectively this system works. Because there are multiple ways to do it, choose the best that best works for you and stick with it. There is no hard & fast rule saying which is the correct way of intermittent fasting. Choose what best suits your lifestyle & the one you can pull off consistently. 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting 

Induces Fat Loss 

fat loss

When you eat, you store some of the energy in the liver as glycogen. But after 16-20 hours of not eating, your glycogen reserves will be meagre. As a result, you may feel more irritable than usual; a term scientists call "hangry." The benefit of being in this state is — with little or no glycogen left — the fat cells are released into your bloodstream. The fat cells go straight to your liver, where they are converted to energy for your body and brain to function correctly. Therefore, your body burns fat to survive. Several blood samples show that people who fast for 16-20 hours experienced a 60% energy from fat, with the most significant change occurring after 18 hours. This is the one big benefit of intermittent fasting as it puts your body in a state called 'ketosis, which is the key to burn fat faster. 

Changes the Function of Cells & Hormones 

biological scene

When you do not eat for 16 hours or more, several things happen in your body. E.g., your body tends to initiate critical cellular recycling and repair processes (autophagy) & also hormonal changes that make stored body fat readily accessible. Human growth hormone levels increase, and helps in fat burning process and preserving lean muscle mass. Several beneficial changes result in longevity and protection against deadly diseases. 

Reduces Insulin Resistance  

hand holding-blood glucose meter measuring blood sugar background is stethoscope

Anything that reduces insulin resistance would lower blood sugar levels and protect your body against type 2 diabetes. This is where intermittent fasting has been quite impressive. Human studies on intermittent fasting show that fasting blood sugar gets reduced by 3-6% while fasting insulin reduces by 20-31%. Another research in diabetic rats also indicates that intermittent fasting protects against kidney damage - one of the most severe complications of diabetes. This suggests that intermittent fasting may be highly beneficial for people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Reduces Oxidative Stress & Inflammation 

sore muscles

Oxidative stress involves unstable molecules known as free radicals react with other important molecules (like protein & DNA) & damage them. This causes a decrease in an athlete's overall performance. It decreases the contraction of the muscles & produces fatigue. Several studies indicate that intermittent fasting may enhance the body's resistance to oxidative stress. Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation & improve an athlete's performance. 

Bottom Line 

Intermittent fasting is not a new concept & has been around for a long time. It is one of the most well-researched topics as well & the benefits are undoubtedly astounding. If you want to change your eating habits & get healthier, intermittent fasting could be a great tool in your arsenal to make lifelong changes.  



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