(WellnessPursuits.com) – Intermittent fasting is all the rage. Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Kourtney Kardashian, Hugh Jackman and dozens of other celebrities do it. But what is it exactly?
At its most basic, intermittent fasting is a regimented way of eating according to a predetermined schedule. According to Good Housekeeping, there are three types of intermittent fasting: time-restricted fasting, modified fasting and alternate fasting. While all of these may help you lose weight, you have to find the one that works best for you. Let’s dive a little deeper.
Time-restricted fasting is all about timing your meals in a way that limits caloric intake and boosts your metabolism. For example, the 16/8 method has you fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window every 24 hours. Another option lets you eat only during a 4-hour period each day but allows for small amounts of fruits and vegetables throughout the day.
So what exactly do these methods accomplish? Eating only during certain times of the day drastically reduces the amount of snacking and grazing you do. It also limits the number of calories you consume. Take the 4-hour option, for instance; there’s only so much you can eat in 4 hours with limited stomach space. Even if you have a large dinner and dessert, you will likely eat less than you would if you consumed the traditional three meals and two snacks per day.
If you can’t go for extended periods of time without eating, you may want to try modified fasting. It’s all about restricting calories during specific times. In this model, you do not “fast.” Instead, you consume less. For example, the 5:2 diet has women eating 500 calories and men eating 600 calories per day for two days out of the week. You eat normally for the other five days. You can even cut your calories on alternating days, for a total of three low-calorie days per week.
Again, these eating patterns serve to reduce the number of calories you eat per week. However, you must be careful. If you binge or overeat on normal eating days, you could undo all of the progress you made on your deprivation days. The key is not to eat more to compensate for those low-calorie days.
True fasting involves not eating anything for a 24-hour period. Your eating and non-eating days are dictated by a pattern. You can choose to fast for two days per week, three days per week or on alternating days. You should not go for more than 24 hours without eating.
This type of fasting may help you decrease body fat by up to 16% over a 12-week period. Intermittent fasting has also been shown to retain muscle mass better than traditional dieting.
When you follow intermittent fasting, you have the freedom to eat sensibly and satisfy some cravings within reason, but you can’t eat whenever you want. That freedom of food choice is the beauty of intermittent fasting. Just remember that it’s important to look at your overall calorie intake and the types of foods you’re eating as well as considering the time restraints. If you eat nothing but cheeseburgers, fries and chocolate during your eating periods, you won’t receive as much benefit from fasting. Making healthy food choices will get the best results from this popular eating plan.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Pursuits!
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