Intermittent fasting. We’ve been hearing the words float around fitness and nutrition and it’s now commonly known as ‘I.F.’ What is it? A new fad, a new diet trend? Can it actually help with health, fitness and nutrition goals?
What is it?
IF (intermittent fasting) is an eating pattern that rotates between periods of fasting and eating. There’s no requirement on what specific foods to eat, but rather when you should eat. Thus, the nature of IF isn’t in the conventional narrative of a “diet” which usually refers to food but is more accurately explained as an eating pattern.
Common methods of IF include daily fasts between 14-16 hours or fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
For some, the concept of withholding yourself from eating for such an extended period of time is almost considered starvation. Especially with the common narratives from dieticians being that a great way to boost metabolism is by eating small amounts frequently throughout the day.
However, fasting differs from starvation in that starvation is an involuntary absence of food. Whereas, fasting is a deliberate, controlled and voluntary absence of food.
Additionally, fasting is a practice that is common throughout human evolution. For most of human history, humans weren’t eating three to five meals and/or snacks a day. Thus, from an evolutionary standpoint, maintaining the practice of fasting despite access to food makes a lot of sense.
Now, we no longer have to hunt for our meals and access to food is in abundance (in most developed cities). Currently, most of the working population spend the majority of their days at a desk or in front of the computer, although our bodies aren’t quite adapted to this way of living.
Incorporating IF into your lifestyle may help upgrade your body’s overall optimal performance as it has been researched to provide a plethora of health benefits for your body.
- Fasting may aid in weight loss goals. This is because when you fast, you drain your body of glucose reserves, which is your primary energy source from food. When this happens, your body switches to its secondary energy source, where it burns fat for fuel in a process called ketosis.
- Fasting may provide health benefits for your brain. As your body naturally ages, there is a decrease in blood flow to the brain and neurons shrink. I.F may slow down this process, which may keep you mentally sharp and healthy for longer. IF may help to protect cells from degeneration and serve as a protective measure against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Fasting may improve risk markers for chronic disease including lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduced insulin resistance and generally, keeping cells resilient.
- Fasting makes living a healthy lifestyle a lot simpler. Eating clean is simple, but, for some, it may be hard and expensive to maintain. One difficulty is the effort required to buy, plan and cook all meals. IF is a great life-hack for those who struggle with this particular difficulty as it simultaneously improves your health and simplifies your life at the same time as it allows for more disciplined planning.