How To Practice Intermittent Fasting Safely
Intermittent fasting, or going 12 to 36 hours with minimal to no calories on an intermittent basis, is a health trend that has robust underpinnings in science of our cellular metabolism. Fasting even has an evolutionary rationale. Its why we consider it to be one of the primary pillars of health, along with exercise, plant-heavy nutrition, sleep and mindfulness or stress reduction. Intermittent fasting is the subject of over 100,000 peer-reviewed papers listed on PubMed.gov! It has been studied as an intervention in both animal research and a range of human studies and randomized controlled clinical trials. Its safety as a lifestyle intervention has been investigated in a number of human trials, in terms of impacts on health and even on eating disorder symptoms.
If you are concerned about the safety of intermittent fasting, whether you practice it yourself or watch this health trend from the outside, perhaps in curious disbelief about how someone could go for 16 hours without food, theres good news. Human studies of intermittent fasting have overwhelmingly reported positive outcomes and health benefits for this lifestyle intervention. These benefits have been found particularly among individuals who are overweight and/or suffering from mild metabolic dysfunction and inflammation.
Learn to fast safely jump to our section below on how to practice overnight fasting, 16:8, OMAD, 5:2, alternate day fasting and prolonged fasting safely.
Practical Steps To Practice Intermittent Fasting Without The Keto Diet
Fasting is a stress on your body. The keto diet is also a stress on your body. So is exercise. Stressing your body is a good thing as your body overcomes these stresses to gain some incredible benefits. However, too much stress at once can be harmful, and too much cortisol can cause you to gain weight and affect your mood. Women are particularly vulnerable to hormonal imbalances when trying to do too much at once. Thats why I tend to recommend that women get started with intermittent fasting without the keto diet.
Intermittent Fasting: Can We Fast Our Way To Better Health
Diet trends come and go, but the newest dietary crazeintermittent fastingcan actually trace its roots to the days of the caveman.
Our ancestors practiced intermittent fasting due to food scarcity, but this ancient survival adaptation might also serve as a tool for improving health. Recent short-term studies have shown intermittent fastings potential for improving many critical health markers.
Intermittent fasting can be an effective tool for weight loss, blood sugar and blood pressure control, and improving heart health, says Christine Maren, DO, a family medicine physician in Colorado who incorporates a holistic nutritional component into her functional medicine practice. It is also a catalyst for autophagy, your bodys process of cell regeneration.
How To Practice Fasting According To Ayurveda
There is no love sincerer than the love of food.
I agree and most of us would. Apart from sustaining us, food has a psycho-social component. While there is such a passion for food, we also see a growing interest in fasting. Why do we fast and why is it much sought after?
Evidence shows that fasting has the potential to delay aging and prevent or even treat some diseases . Fasting is not new as it has been practiced for millennia for a variety of reasons. Different cultures have evolved different methods of fasting.
Let me share a glimpse of one of the ancient medical systems: Ayurvedas approach to fasting.
Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine, is known for its holistic approach to health and well-being. It dwells on aspects such as sustainable happiness and longevity. Fasting is seen as a remedy for various illnesses as well as a promoter of well-being. Proper fasting under medical supervision benefits a person through its preventive, promotive and curative values.
Upavasa -How it works
Fasting in Ayurveda refers to abstinence from chewing, licking, and swallowing food, as well as abstinence from drinking. Upavasa is the term that refers to fasting.
Upavasa is not just about refraining from food but includes refraining from all pleasures that kindle the senses. In the Sanskrit language, Upa means near vasa means reside. Together they mean being near the supreme. Whatever be the faith, proximity to the supreme being is the goal.
So How Many Hours Should You Fast
When you explore the beginners guide to intermittent fasting, you may find these schedules very restrictive and difficult to follow. Its a good idea to start slow and fast for 12 hours and eat for 12, or fast for 14 hours and eat for 10.
For women, the 14:10 schedule is easier to follow. For men, this can vary as some men find alternate-day fasting easier to follow.
Working your way slowly will make it easier for you to adjust to a certain intermittent fasting type. You can eventually increase the fasting periods and decrease the eating windows.
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How To Work Out When Youre Intermittent Fasting
Dont Try to Build Muscle While Fasting
Whether its a 5/2 protocol a 16/8 , or any other version of IF, most people on a fasting diet wind up losing weight. Thats because its much harder to overeat if all your daily calories are crammed into an eight-hour window than if you can spread them out over 15 to 16 hours. Thats what makes IF such an effective weight-loss tool: by restricting the time frame in which you can eat, you effectively restrict the number of calories you take in as well.
But if your main goal is maximizing muscle, fasting isnt a great idea. Unless youre a real novice, you cant build appreciable muscle in a caloric deficit, says Poli. A pound here and there? Maybe. But you wont build anywhere near as much as you would if you consume a few hundred extra calories above and beyond what your body needs each day. So dont try. Your primary goal while fasting should losing fat. To build muscle, you need fuel.
You Should Train While Fasting
Even if your main goal is losing fat, you still need to lift, which prevents your body from burning through muscle to fuel your daily activities. You wont gain much muscle if youre fasting, but if you lift, you wont lose it, either. The same activities that build muscle when youre fueled help preserve it when youre in a caloric deficit, says Poli.
Eat BEFORE You Lift Weights
Fast Before Cardio
Ways To Use This Information For Better Health
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/8you Have Chosen The Wrong If Plan
Choosing the right IF plan is extremely crucial. If you choose a method that does not sync well with your sleep time or your everyday routine, you may end up doing more harm than good. As mentioned before, beginners should start slow and do not straightaway jump to a 24 hours of fasting. If you cannot keep up with it, you may end up eating more calories than usual, leading to unhealthy weight gain.
Lifting Weights And Fasting
Lifting weights while fasting if also OK, but you need to be mindful of the role that glucose plays in repairing your muscles after a major weight-lifting session, especially while in a fasted state. When you exercise in a fasted state your glycogen stores are already depleted. If your workout for the day involves heavy lifting, you can do so in a fasted state, but you should prioritize eating a meal directly following your workout. Unlike a burst exercise session, heavy lifting puts enough stress on the body to warrant an immediate refeed. Like doing cardio session, lifting weights while fasted might decrease your strength in the short run, as your body adapts to being a fat burner. For this reason, you may want to save your weight-lifting sessions for periods after you have eaten , and incorporate fasted exercise on the days when you perform burst-style training.
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The Backstory On Intermittent Fasting
IF as a weight loss approach has been around in various forms for ages, but was highly popularized in 2012 by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosleys TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and book The Fast Diet, followed by journalist Kate Harrisons book The 5:2 Diet based on her own experience, and subsequently by Dr. Jason Fungs 2016 bestseller The Obesity Code. IF generated a steady positive buzz as anecdotes of its effectiveness proliferated.
As a lifestyle-leaning research doctor, I needed to understand the science. The Obesity Code seemed the most evidence-based summary resource, and I loved it. Fung successfully combines plenty of research, his clinical experience, and sensible nutrition advice, and also addresses the socioeconomic forces conspiring to make us fat. He is very clear that we should eat more fruits and veggies, fiber, healthy protein, and fats, and avoid sugar, refined grains, processed foods, and for Gods sake, stop snacking. Check, check, check, I agree. The only part that was still questionable in my mind was the intermittent fasting part.
What Laura Martin Md Says
Most of the intermittent fasting diets recommend cutting back to 500-600 calories on fasting days. In general, for many people this would be medically safer and easier than not eating at all on those days.
Remember to drink enough on fasting days to prevent dehydration. And youll need to eat a healthy diet on days that you dont fast.
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How Intermittent Fasting Is Different When Breasfeeding
The main difference is that when you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calories. Consuming enough whole foods to provide the energy your body needs to sustain your baby is essential. Depending on which approach of intermittent fasting you choose, you may experience a . Thats why you need to learn how to practice intermittent fasting safely when breastfeeding.
Beware The Studys Limitations
This study linking a vegetarian diet with a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke has a number of important limitations that should temper the concerns of vegetarians.
- The study was observational. That means it simply observed what happened among different people who followed different diets over time, without being able to account for every other relevant factor. For example, if vegetarians chose plant-based diets because of a family history of stroke, it could be their genes driving the higher rates of stroke, not the diet.
- The findings might have been different if the study had included a different study population, such as one with different genetic backgrounds or higher rates of obesity.
- The data regarding diet was self-reported. While the use of dietary surveys is common and necessary in research that requires a large number of study subjects, it isnt always reliable.
- The study was not large enough to reliably sort out differences in the rates of disease between vegans and vegetarians. As a result, its not clear whether the increased stroke risk applies to all vegetarians, or whether vegans might have a different risk.
- We dont know whether the health outcomes reported in this study might be due to what is included in the diet or what is eliminated. For example, is the lower risk of heart disease among vegetarians due to the plant-based diet, or is it just due to the restriction of animal-based products?
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What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that focuses on time-restricted eating – fluctuating between specific periods of fasting and allowed eating time. Fasting encourages our body to rely more on burning fat for fuel, releasing ketone bodies into our bloodstream.
At first glance, fasting may seem a bit odd, but in all reality, fasting has been around for a long time.
When you think about it we often fasted before the times of refrigeration and convenience food. Only in the past 50-60 years has it become more common to eat continually throughout the day, which isn’t always a good thing. Overeating and imbalanced diets play a large role in the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Intermittent fasting mainly focuses on when you eat but what you eat during your non-fasting period is just as important.
Should You Skip Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Thats what conventional wisdom says, anyway.
The validity of this wisdom depends on a few factors, including your goals. If your goal is weight loss, breakfast might not be helping.
For example, one review of the literature found that the addition of breakfast probably doesnt aid in weight loss efforts. Another study, however, found that women who skipped breakfast had higher cortisol and blood pressure than breakfast eaters.
Why this effect? Possibly because breakfast can enhance the circadian rhythm, our 24-hour wake-sleep cycle. Eating in the AM hours helps stimulate melatonin production at night to support restful sleep, which carries over into every aspect of health.
The bottom line is that skipping breakfast works for some people, but not others. Youll have to experiment.
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How Does A : 2 Diet Work
With the so-called 5: 2 diet, also known as intermittent fasting, you can eat normally five days a week. The calorie intake is only significantly restricted on two days a week. On these days, the calorie intake should stay below 500 calories. This nutritional method offers more food choices and weight loss flexibility than other diets.
How To Practice Intermittent Fasting Without The Keto Diet In 5 Simple Steps
Many women feel amazing doing both intermittent fasting and the keto diet. The most important part is to learn to listen to your body and understand the signals its sending you. To be able to do that, its a good idea to introduce one piece of the puzzle at the time. Watch and wait, you will see how your body reacts each time.
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Best Foods To Break A 16 Hour Fast
The best way to break a 16-hour fast is with nutrient-rich foods that can fuel your body with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy.
Nutrition refers to more than just calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fats . It also includes micronutrients like vitamins and minerals both essential for many body functions.
As you can imagine, its not about the number of calories alone that will determine your success with intermittent fasting but the quality of the foods that make up those calories.
The top nutrient-dense foods to break a 16:8 fast include:
- Lean proteins: chicken and poultry, meat, fish, legumes , eggs, nuts, and seeds.
- Vegetables: fresh or frozen, the richer in color the better.
- Fruits: fresh or frozen, a variety of fruit is the best option.
- Whole grains: rice, oats, quinoa, wheat , and other ancient grains.
- Healthy fats: olive oil, avocado , coconut oil, and fats from nuts .
The most important thing to remember is to provide your body with a variety of foods from which it can get the nutrition it needs.
Eating the same foods each day can lead to nutritional deficiencies and meal boredom.
How To Start Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is safe for most healthy individuals. In fact, everyone already fasts daily when they go to sleep. To start intermittent fasting during the day, you simply need to select the schedule most appropriate for you. This means being able to follow a fasting period that you can physically, emotionally and mentally handle.
Before you start fasting, especially if youre managing a health condition, review your plan with your healthcare provider. Pregnant women, some professional athletes, and those who are malnourished are a few examples of people who should not be fasting. Always consult with a doctor if youre unsure if fasting is something you should do, especially if you are planning to go more than 16 hours without food.
If, after consulting with a healthcare professional, you decide that intermittent fasting is right for you, thats wonderful! You have a new, powerful tool in your toolbelt to help you better maintain your health.
A 16/8 schedule is a good starting point, but if you find that too difficult, you can adjust to a 14/10 schedule. Pay close attention to changes in mood, mental clarity, and energy to help determine if and how you need to adjust your feeding window.
Easing into an intermittent fasting schedule is important, and will help make the practice more sustainable. Nobody wants to follow a diet that leaves them feeling cranky and tired.
This one tip can be an extremely valuable addition to your daily health practice
How To Do Alternate
Alternate-day fasting is an intermittent fasting approach.
The basic idea is that you fast on one day and then eat what you want the next day.
This way you only need to restrict what you eat half of the time.
On fasting days, youre allowed to drink as many calorie-free beverages as you like. Examples include:
- unsweetened coffee
If youre following a modified ADF approach, youre also allowed to eat about 500 calories on fasting days, or 2025% of your energy requirements .
The most popular version of this diet is called The Every Other Day Diet by Dr. Krista Varady, who has conducted most of the studies on ADF.
The health and weight loss benefits seem to be the same regardless of whether the fasting-day calories are consumed at lunch or dinner, or as small meals throughout the day .
Some people may find that alternate day fasting is easier to stick to than other types of diets.
However, a yearlong study found that adherence when following alternate day fasting was not superior to everyday calorie restriction .
Most of the studies on alternate-day fasting used the modified version, with 500 calories on fasting days. This is considered much more sustainable than doing full fasts on fasting days, but its just as effective.
In this article, the terms alternate-day fasting or ADF generally apply to the modified approach with about 500 calories on fasting days.