What is Intermittent Fasting?
A diet plan that has become quite popular among millennials these days, intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of eating and fasting.
Unlike other diet plans which proposes that a person eat in moderation or restrict oneself to certain ‘fattening’ food items in order to lose weight, intermittent fasting’s goal is to starve the body for long enough so that it triggers the burning of fat. Such a diet plan where one is fasting for long stretches of time that can go up to 12-18 hours, helps in weight loss, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, controlled diabetes and also helps in improving immunity.
Intermittent fasting is not good for everyone though.
Children and teens, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with disabilities type 1, persons with eating disorders, people with other medical issues, underweight or elderly should not try intermittent fasting. Also, a quick note, fasting can be unsafe if overdone or not done correctly.
So, in order to understand how intermittent fasting can be taken up correctly, we at DNA spoke with Pooja Banga, Director and Nutritionist at Cultivating Health, who helped us list a few points that will help you in taking up intermittent fasting successfully if at all you plan to.
The rules are simple:
Water is really essential for the body. It keeps you hydrated and gives you a feeling of being full. While many commit the mistake of not drinking enough water while intermittent fasting, it is advised otherwise.
Lower intake of water makes one feel weak and drowsy.
Begin with short gaps
For those wanting to try intermittent fasting for the first time or are just a couple of weeks into it, it is advised that you begin with shorter gaps between meals because our body is not accustomed to going without food for long hours. Therefore, to get your body habituated to going without solids for long hours can take some time, even weeks.
Those who begin with longer gaps can experience headache, dizziness, etc.
For beginners, it is important, to begin with, shorter gaps of 7-8 hours. You can also try taking your dinner at 8 pm and then eat the next day at 12 noon. This way you won’t crave for food and will be able to fast for long hours.
Avoid over-eating during intermittent fasting
Overeating is the common mistake that we can do unknowingly. Generally, people eat a lot thinking they have to fast for long hours. The motive behind intermittent fasting is to consume fewer calories. If you overeat or consume excess calories the motive behind intermittent fasting is defeated.
Therefore, overeating with the thought that you have to go without food for long hours won’t serve your purpose. Eating healthy and in moderation, keeping in mind to not indulge in processed or unhealthy food items is the ultimate trick to successfully undertaking intermittent fasting.
Be aware of not eating less
While intake of fewer calories is the ultimate aim of intermittent fasting, it doesn’t mean that you have to eat less. Moderation is the key. Eating less will only deprive your body of the essential nutrients and make you weak, which of course isn’t something that w want.
So, eat mindfully and healthy.
Whether to workout or not?
Do not skip your workout. Prefer doing it for a shorter time period, say, 30-40 minutes. An intense workout is not advised while intermittent fasting as your calorie intake is less. Prefer taking up yoga, brisk walking etc that will help you stay occupied and not drain you at the same time.
Lastly, if you are intermittent fasting for weight loss, you have to be patient since it is a long and steady process which has long term health benefits. In fact, fasting has its own benefits like, it increases growth hormone secretion which is important for growth, metabolism, weight loss and muscle strength, promotes blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance among others.
So, if you think intermittent fasting will yield magical, quick results within a couple of weeks, you certainly have to rethink before you undertake this diet plan.
Important to note, during intermittent fasting, you are allowed to have 0 calorie beverages like water, coffee etc. Consumption of coffee even can help to keep hunger at bay as it is a strong appetite suppressant.