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Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular. Supporters claim the diet can reduce body fat while also increasing overall health-- and many also claim that it doesn't lead to malnutrition. Because it's so difficult for many people to follow severe diet restrictions over long stretches of time, the unique flexibility of intermittent fasting can be appealing. Let's dig into it: exactly what is intermittent fasting, and is it safe?
In general, intermittent fasting means that you simply don't eat for 12 to 14 hour periods of time. Sound difficult? Consider that most of us already "fast" for at least 8 hours just while we're asleep! Essentially, intermittent fasting is just a reorganization of your eating schedule. Here's the idea: periods of fasting push your body to use fatty acids called "ketones" for energy instead of glucose during metabolism. When you fast, your body runs out of sugar -- or glucose -- to use for energy. It then converts body fat into ketones to produce energy instead.
Studies show mixed evidence about the health benefits of intermittent fasting. In addition to losing weight, intermittent fasting could possibly help increase your lifespan by one-third. Some researchers believe it improves your body's responses to insulin and controls your hunger. Intermittent fasting might also reduce your risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart failure. However, other studies contradict this, cautioning that intermittent fasting might actually raise your risk of diabetes. Because the evidence isn't yet definitive, it's up to you and your doctor to decide the right weight loss program for you.
There are several popular methods of intermittent fasting. Many people prefer intermittent fasting because it's flexible. You don't necessarily have to give up carbs or sugar. You just follow a few simple rules and time your meals accordingly. There are a variety of strategies used for intermittent fasting. The most common two strategies are the 16:8 Method and the Alternate Day Method.
With 16:8 intermittent fasting, you fast for 16 hours every day and eat during the other 8 hours. During the hours that you fast, you aren't supposed to consume any calories. You are allowed water, black coffee and unsweetened tea during the time of fasting. The foods that you eat during your "feed" periods are equally important. Choosing the right foods to eat during that time helps maximize your fitness goals. High-quality proteins, carbohydrates, and fats should comprise the bulk of your diet while using this method.
If you're a disciplined dieter with a specific weight goal in mind, the "alternate day" method might be ideal for you. One day you'll eat as you normally would, but on the next you'll consume about 400 or 500 calories. To ease into it, dieters use meal replacement shakes for the first two weeks on the days in which they consume only a few calories.
Remember that each body and medical history is different -- it's important to discuss dieting options with a trusted healthcare professional being making any drastic changes to your diet. Regardless of which method of intermittent fasting you choose, it's important to eat high-quality and nutrient-dense foods to stay nourished. If you're concerned about diabetes, heart health, or your weight, visit your local MedPost Urgent Care today to discuss your options.