Fasting is a common practice for some religions. Fasting practice dates back to ancient times. Apart from religious reasons, people have practiced fasting as a means of weight loss. The big question is, what is fasting? Well, fasting is going without food or avoiding the healthy eating routine. There are many styles of starvation, one is one in which you completely go without food for a certain, and another technique is reducing the eating hours and even reducing the amount of food intake (Yusuf et al. 2018).
Recently, one style of fasting has become very popular; this style is what is termed as intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a restricted eating pattern. This pattern cycles between the times to eat and the times to fast. In general, it is a style that specifies the time to eat and not what to eat. Science research and reports show the benefits and the drawbacks of this fasting style (Yusuf et al. 2018).
Popular Methods of Intermittent Fasting
Firstly, there are conventional methods of intermittent fasting. The 16/8 way which termed as Leangains protocol, is one in which eating is restricted to only 8 hours and fasting to 16 hours a day. The eat-stop-eat method is one whereby you fast for 24 hours for a certain number of days in a week. Lastly, the 5:2 diet fasting method is whereby you only consume approximately 500 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week (Yusuf et al. 2018).
Heath Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Scientific studies have shown that intermittent fasting has got immense health benefits. Intermittent fasting has proved to be the most effective means of weight control. It lowers insulin resistance and hence reducing blood sugars and increasing insulin levels. Think of it this way, when we eat, the food will be broken down to molecules and then absorbed to the bloodstream. Foods that contain sufficient carbohydrates are broken down into sugars. These sugars are used by the cells to produce energy; however, if there are excess sugars, they are stored in fat cells as fats. This stored fat is what will lead to an increase in weight and even worse lead to obesity. However, if one takes a long time in between meals, the fats which were stored in the fat cells will be released as sugars to provide energy. Intermittent fasting is an idea of lowering the insulin level and burning all the stored fats in the body. This, in turn, will help to prevent type 2 diabetes. Moreover, it reduces inflammation (Sharma et al. 2019).
Intermittent fasting is right for your heart. It helps to reduce the risk factors that lead to heart diseases. Such risk factors include; lousy cholesterol, blood sugars, and inflammation. It is good for your brain health as well. It enhances the formation of new brain cells as a result of an increase in the production of a brain hormone, and this reduces the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. From studies, science has also proved that intermittent fasting extends the lifespan of a person, so it is an excellent anti-aging practice.
Intermittent fasting is more comfortable in comparison to other types of starvation. Fasting for many days can be challenging; however, avoiding food for some hours of the day is more comfortable. What is even interesting is that both types of fasting have the same advantages. If you are going for the 16/8 style of intermittent fasting, it is advisable to begin the eight hours early enough and closing it soon enough so that you can avoid the bad habit of eating just before bed.
Safety and Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Scientific studies have shown that intermittent fasting is not entirely safe for everyone. Therefore, before you beginning to fast, ensure that you consult a specialist. It might not go so well for the people with less weight or with those having eating disorders.
From research, intermittent fasting is not as safe for women as compared to men. From research reports, the men were reported to have had improved insulin; however, it worsened the blood sugar controls in women. A common side effect that was observed in women was that their menstrual cycle stopped but, resumed when they avoided fasting. Intermittent fasting is therefore not advisable for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding (Sharma et al. 2019).
Other side effects that have been observed include; hunger, poor brain function and general body weakness. To be safe, you need to take some safety measures before you begin to fast. Most importantly, you should consult a doctor if you have a history of the following medical conditions: diabetes, low blood pressure, underweight, history of amenorrhea in women and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (Sharma et al. 2019).
In conclusion, scientifically, intermittent fasting has been proved to be a comfortable and sufficient means of losing weight and acquiring beneficial health benefits. Intermittent fasting is a way of giving a break to the body to process the eaten food. On the other hand, the scientist has found out that this method of fasting is not suitable for everyone. Therefore, it is good to seek medical attention before fasting. Side effects associated with intermittent fasting are as a result of the body not being used to the new pattern of eating. As you continue fasting, the body will get used to, and the side effects will eventually fade away. Moreover, you should be careful with intermittent fasting if you have had previous health conditions, such as blood pressure. To the lactating mothers and pregnant mothers, intermittent fasting is not advisable.
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