What Are The Health Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
A proper Intermittent fasting plan can help you curb weight gain, lower oxidative stress, and inflammation. Furthermore, it also reduces blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. Research suggests that intermittent fasting increases the levels of the fat-burning hormone, improves insulin sensitivity, and normalizes insulin levels.
While drinks may seem negligible when considering your intermittent fasting journey, in reality, they play an immense role. The simple rule is, consume drinks with little to no calories. Make sure you avoid sugars at all costs since they bring in a considerable amount of calories. While fasting, if you consume calories, it breaks the whole point and purpose, doesnt it? Hydrate yourself consistently and keep a check on calories.
Eating Drinking And Fasting
On fasting days, most people choose to consume only about 500 calories or 25 percent of their normal caloric intake. That means very little food, but lots of water and some other zero-calorie beverages. Some people forget that drinks can contain calories too, Merotto says.
Any drink with macronutrientscarbs, fat, or proteinwould push the body out of a fasting state, she adds. Because these nutrients contain calories, they promote an insulin response which alerts your body that you are no longer fasting.
The basic idea of intermittent fasting is that you want to have periods where you are not consuming calories in the form of foods or beverages, says Katherine Brooking, MS, RD, cofounder of Appetite for Health. Your beverages should be calorie-free or very close to it, like with coffee, cucumber water, lemon water, or tea.
Feel free to consume caloric beverages such as smoothies, juices, alcohol , and shakes on your non-fast days and in your eating window. Just be sure to include the calories in your overall calorie count.
How To Avoid Refeeding Syndrome
There are several ways you can reduce your risk of developing refeeding issues when you do break your fast:
- Avoid breaking your fast with a meal that is high in carbohydrates stick to low-carb, high-fat meals. Avoid meals that surge insulin and blood sugar.
- Stay hydrated during your fast Drinking mineral water is good.
- Supplement with a pinch of natural salt such as Himalayan salt a few times throughout the day.
- Consult with your healthcare provider for any extended fast.
Read Also: Will Fasting Help You Lose Weight
Gentle Foods To Break A Fast
When youre ready to break your fast, its best to ease out of it. Toward the end of your fast, you might want to introduce small portions of foods that are more easily digested, so you dont overwhelm your digestive system.
Breaking your fast with foods that are especially high in fat, sugar, or even fiber can be difficult for your body to digest, leading to bloating and discomfort.
Foods and drinks that can be even more shocking to your system after a fast include those like a greasy cheeseburger, slice of cake, or soda. Even high-fiber raw produce, nuts, and seeds may be difficult to digest.
On the other hand, nutrient-dense foods that easy to digest and contain a bit of protein and some healthy fats can break your fast more gently.
Below are a few examples of what to eat to break your fast.
Breaking your fast with healthy foods that may be better tolerated can help replenish important nutrients and electrolytes while easing food back into your diet.
Once youre tolerating gentler foods, add in other healthy foods like whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, and fish and return to eating normally.
Whats The Best Way To Manage Hunger While Fasting
You will likely feel hungry as your body adjusts to IF, but Gottfried says it will adjust. From my own experience and feedback from my patients, it gets easier, she says. According to Harvard, research has found that IF doesnt increase overall appetite. Gottfried says the 16:8 diet seems to be the easiest for most people to integrate into their lives without feeling too hungry.
Recommended Reading: How Do I Know If Intermittent Fasting Is Working
Foods You Can Eat While Fasting
Some experts say as long as you keep your carbohydrate intake below 50 grams per day during a fast, you can maintain ketosis .
Below are some foods and beverages you can consume while fasting.
- Water. Plain or carbonated water contains no calories and will keep you hydrated during a fast.
- Coffee and tea. These should mostly be consumed without added sugar, milk, or cream. However, some people find that adding small amounts of milk or fat can curb hunger.
- Diluted apple cider vinegar. Some people find that drinking 12 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed into water can help them stay hydrated and prevent cravings during a fast.
- Healthy fats. Some people drink coffee containing MCT oil, ghee, coconut oil, or butter during their fast. Oil breaks a fast, but it wont break ketosis and can tide you over between meals.
- Bone broth. This rich source of nutrients can help replenish electrolytes lost during long periods of only drinking water.
Remember that foods and drinks containing any calories like bone broth and the healthy fats listed above will technically break your fast.
However, small amounts of these low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein foods wont throw your body out of ketosis .
Some people choose to consume small amounts of certain foods and beverages while fasting, such as bone broth or healthy fats. Others consume calorie-free beverages.
What About Taking Supplements During A Fasting Period
This depends on the fasting schedule you’re following, and you should discuss any supplements with your doctor before beginning to take them, says Palinski-Wade. If you fast for a set amount of hours each day, take your supplements during the eating hours , since most supplements like a multivitamin are better absorbed when taken with food.
If you practice intermittent fasting that involves fasting on specific days, like the 5:2 diet, taking supplements is still recommended to ensure you are meeting your nutrient needs each day. Palinski-Wade recommends taking a high-quality multivitamin daily when following any IF plan.
âGenerally, the small amount of calories found in a chewable/gummy/liquid vitamin would not offset a fast day,â she says. “But do discuss this with your doctor or dietitian first to make sure you can take your supplement on an empty stomach.â
The bottom line: At the end of the day, you want to consume close to zero calories during fasting periods. By avoiding sweetened drinks like soda and bottled iced tea, as well as caloric add-ons in your hot beverages, you can ensure you follow your IF plan correctly and successfully.
Also Check: What To Do During Intermittent Fasting
Benefits Of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
16/8 intermittent fasting is a popular diet because its easy to follow, flexible and sustainable in the long term.
Its also convenient, as it can cut down on the amount of time and money you need to spend on cooking and preparing food each week.
In terms of health, 16/8 intermittent fasting has been associated with a long list of benefits, including:
- Increased weight loss: Not only does restricting your intake to a few hours per day help cut calories over the course of the day, but studies also show that fasting could boost metabolism and increase weight loss (
16/8 intermittent fasting is easy to follow, flexible and convenient. Animal and human studies suggest that it may increase weight loss, improve blood sugar levels, enhance brain function and extend longevity.
Before You Try Fasting
Talk to your doctor first. If you have type 1 diabetes, other health problems due to diabetes, or have had hypoglycemia, your doctor may recommend you not fast.
If your doctor says itâs OK to try, ask if you need to check your blood sugar more often or adjust your diabetes medication during and after fasting.
Watch for signs of low blood sugar. If you start to feel shaky, sweaty, or confused, your blood sugar may be too low. Stop fasting right away and do what you normally would to treat hypoglycemia. For example, eat a glucose gel or have a sugary drink followed by a small, balanced meal when your blood sugar level is back to normal.
Be careful about what you eat after fasting. Eating too many carbohydrates after fasting can cause your blood sugar levels to become too high. Choose healthy, balanced meals and snacks.
Use caution. Donât do tough workouts while youâre fasting. Hard exercise can make your blood sugar levels dip, which can lead to hypoglycemia. Ask your doctor what activities are OK to do, or just take a break.
Kathryn A. Boling, MD, Mercy Medical Center.
CMAJ: âIntermittent fasting: the next big weight loss fad.â
Annual Review of Nutrition: âMetabolic Effects of Intermittent Fasting.”
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center: âDoes Intermittent Fasting Work?â
Also Check: What To Have During Intermittent Fasting
How Long Can We Last Without Food
Once you start fasting, you may feel ravenously hungry as your mind is flooded with images of your muscles disintegrating into thin air. This is simply how your mind reacts to the threat of starvation just because it feels like you will lose all your muscle and starve doesnt mean you will.
In fact, Mahatma Gandhi survived for 21 days without food while only taking in sips of water. During times when people had no food or water at all, they were able to survive for 10 to 14 days. However, these are just anecdotes what does the science say?
Many studies have been done during hunger strikes and religious fasts confirming that humans have the capacity to survive even longer than Gandhi did during his fast.
One monk, for example, set out to do a 40 day fast with medical supervision while maintaining his daily activities in the monastery. After 36 days, the medical professionals had to step in due to profound weakness and low blood pressure when standing. Although the monk fasted for 15 days longer than Ghandi, the medical professionals were able to stop the fast in time so that he could recover.
Another study tracked 33 political prisoners who were on hunger strike. The prisoners fasted for 6-24 days before being hospitalized for dehydration due an inadequate intake of fluids and electrolytes . Breaking their fast was described as being uncomplicated.
Ways To Use This Information For Better Health
Also Check: Where In The Bible Does It Talk About Fasting
Answers To The Most Common Intermittent Fasting Questions
Welcome to the first Reader Mailbag!
Im taking a page from the playbook of one of my favorite sportswriters, Bill Simmons, and answering a boatload of your questions today.
Questions are rolling in all the time mostly through the free newsletter or and I love hearing from you. Keep them coming! I’m happy to help however I can.
My hope is that this mailbag will bring useful answers together in one place and make it easier for you to find the information you need to make the changes you want. My goal is always to make it easier for you to lose fat, gain muscle, and live healthy.
Boom. Lets get this party rolling.
As always, these are real emails from real readers.
Safety And Side Effects
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting.
You may also feel weak and your brain may not perform as well as youre used to.
This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.
This is particularly important if you:
- Have diabetes.
- Have a history of eating disorders.
- Are a woman who is trying to conceive.
- Are a woman with a history of amenorrhea.
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
All that being said, intermittent fasting has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing dangerous about not eating for a while if youre healthy and well-nourished overall.
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. People with certain medical conditions should not fast without consulting with a doctor first.
Here are answers to the most common questions about intermittent fasting.
The Difference Between Short And Long Fasts
Every night when we stop eating and then go to bed, we go through a short-term fast until our first meal of the next day. Depending on when you ate dinner and when you consume your first meal after you wake up, you can easily go through a 12 to 16-hour fast with no physiologic change to digestive functions.
Although there is no clear consensus or accepted definition about what the cut off is between a short and a long-term fast, Diet Doctor defines anything less than 24 hours as time-restricted eating, fasts between 24 and 36 hours as a short-term fast, and anything longer than 36 hours a long-term fast.
Time-restricted eating and short-term fasts dont require specific precautions when breaking the fast. Just remember it is a good idea not to binge on highly-processed, sugary, or high-carb foods because you will undo the advantages of the fast. Plan to eat a wholesome, low-carb, high-fat meal, such as any of the meals featured in the Diet Doctor recipes, and you will be just fine.
Will I Lose Weight
Most likely.64 If you have weight to lose, it is extremely likely that you will lose weight if you do not eat.
In theory, its possible to eat more after fasting, of course, cancelling out the weight lost. But studies generally show that most people tend to eat significantly less overall.65
I call intermittent fasting the ancient secret of weight loss because it might be one of the most powerful dietary interventions for weight loss, yet it has been mostly ignored by doctors and dietitians for a long time.66
I Didn’t Sleep Very Well
I’m not sure if this was one of the results of intermittent fasting, but I noticed that I didn’t sleep very well during my experiment. After a few days, I woke up multiple times during the night feeling super thirsty and had to get up to drink water before I could fall asleep again. I tried to adjust the types of food I was eating to fix it. Other bloggers who have tried the diet reported similar problems, but I couldn’t find concrete research linking the issue with fasting besides my fellow IFers accounts. I normally don’t have a problem sleeping, so this was definitely a negative side effect.
What Is Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that alternates periods of eating with periods of either not eating or taking in minimal calories. It emphasizes when you eat rather than what you eat.
Even though it has recently gained mainstream attention, intermittent fasting isnt new. People have practiced periods of fasting throughout history, such as for spiritual, health, or survival reasons .
The intent of intermittent fasting isnt necessarily only to restrict calories, but also to allow your body to focus on maintenance and recovery, rather than digesting.
Many fasting patterns incorporate regular 12- to 16-hour periods of fasting into each day, while others include fasting for 24 or 48 hours once or twice per week.
When you fast, your body undergoes a number of metabolic changes. After some time, fasting causes your body to enter ketosis, a state in which fat is used for energy when carbohydrates are unavailable (
Intermittent fasting rotates periods of fasting and periods of eating. Its often used for health purposes like weight loss and chronic disease prevention, though its been used historically for other reasons.
Read Also: Can I Drink Coffee On Intermittent Fasting
When Should I Exercise
When Varady and her colleagues conducted a study that combined alternate day fasting and exercise, they allowed the participants to pick whether they wanted to exercise on a feasting or fasting day, and found there was no strong preference one way or the other. But the researchers were surprised the dieters actually reported feeling more energetic on fasting days.
Drink Bone Broth Thats Made With Quality Bones And Connective Tissue Such As Grass
- Your broth can only be as good as the bones of the animal it came from. For this reason, we recommend only using grass-fed, grass-finished beef bones or organic chicken bones to make your broth, and avoiding bones from factory farmed animals that have been treated with hormones and antibiotics. This will maximize the potential of the broth.
- You can source bones from local farmers and butchers, and most health food stores sell organic and grass-fed, grass-finished bones. If you dont have time to make your own broth at home or have trouble sourcing quality ingredients, you can always buy some.
Weve taken care of sourcing the highest quality ingredients and simmering the bones for up to 24 hours to bring you the most wholesome bone broth possible.
Recommended Reading: How Much Weight Lose Intermittent Fasting