Intermittent fasting — perhaps you’ve heard about this “diet” in the office, or maybe you have friends who are raving about it.
Kourtney Kardashian, Halle Berry, Chris Pratt, and Hugh Jackman have all tried and swear by it. Intermittent fasting sounds like something you should follow, but what is it exactly?
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern that involves eating only during a specified window of time. You can do it for a certain number of hours per day, spread over a few weeks.
There’s no single right way to do it. You don’t even have to eat certain types of foods, but eating healthy meals yields faster results. Although there are studies that link this method to improvements in metabolic health, many undertake it primarily for weight loss.
Note that intermittent fasting is a dieting pattern, NOT a type of diet.
Confused? Look at it this way: Someone who’s on a ketogenic diet will eat a low-carb, adequate-protein and high-fat diet without necessarily following a certain eating and fasting pattern. But someone who follows an intermittent fasting plan will eat within an 8-hour window each day, regardless of the diet.
Here are the different types of intermittent fasting:
- 16:8 diet: You’ll fast for 16 hours and eat only within a specified 8-hour period. You can choose when to set this 8-hour period — there are no rules.
- 5:2 diet: In this plan, women eat less than 500 calories while men eat less than 600 calories for two non-consecutive days per week. This plan doesn’t require you to eat certain foods, but it does entail limiting how much you eat.
- 24-hour fasting: This means fasting for 24 hours. Those who follow this plan still take liquids like water, coffee, or tea and low-calorie foods.
So how does it work and more importantly, should you follow it?
Should you try intermittent fasting?
Harvard Health Publishing reported that there’s a growing body of research suggesting that intermittent fasting is a “more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss”. However, some studies have also found that weight loss resulting from this plan is similar to a calorie-restricted diet.
Clearly, there are benefits to following intermittent fasting. But bear in mind that dieting patterns that worked for Halle Berry or Hugh Jackman may not work for you. In other words, intermittent fasting is not for everyone.
Should you follow it, know that intermittent fasting might interfere with your hunger cues. That means you’ll be ignoring hunger pangs since you’re supposed to eat only within a certain window period. This may pose some challenges to certain people.
Assess your fitness and dietary goals
Before you grab that bag of chips or go to a buffet, assess your fitness goals. Do you want to lose weight in the fastest amount of time? How much weight do you want to lose, and can you commit to a dieting pattern (remember: consistency is key!)? Can you last hours without eating?
Consider some of these factors before you decide. Set a goal and commit to it. Seek advice from a nutrition expert about diet options that will work for your body.
Have you tried intermittent fasting? Tell us what you think!
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