The Big IF : Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?
“I have no idea why it’s called ‘fasting’. If anything, it makes time move more slowly!” – Anonymous.
If you’ve been looking to lose weight through your diet, chances are you’ve read about or been recommended intermittent fasting from at least one source. Largely revolving around the concept of a caloric deficit brought about by skipping or rescheduling meals, the practice has found takers across the globe. So what’s the big deal about it?
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting is not a new concept, particularly not in India. For generations now, we have watched our parents and grandparents observe fasts for religious reasons, the most strict occasions being karwa chauth and ramzaan. Intermittent Fasting (IF) is intentional abstinence from eating for a large part of the day, usually upwards of 12 hours. During IF, the individual partakes only of water, and black coffee or green tea, without any added sugars or sweeteners.
An example of an Intermittent Fasting schedule would be to not eat anything from the time you wake up until 12noon, and then only eat until 8pm. This creates a 16:8 IF schedule, i.e., 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. While 16:8 is among the more popular fasting schedules, benefits can be seen even with 12:12 or 14:10 schedules.
What Happens During Intermittent Fasting?
IF works largely on two principles. Firstly, it very simply causes a caloric deficit. Second, and more importantly, by depriving the body of food for a certain period, the body is forced to switch from using fresh glucose sources, to using stored body fats for fuel. These stored fats are broken down into ketones, which are easily assimilated by the brain and body. This state of the body is known as ketosis, and is the basis of the keto diet and our very own Lean Machine program.
This switch within the body is beneficial from several perspectives. For starters, the body moves from storing fat to burning it, which aids in weight loss. Fat is also a cleaner-burning fuel source for the body, and doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes like carbohydrates do. This means fewer insulin spikes, and reduced insulin resistance. In case you weren’t aware, insulin resistance is the primary culprit behind lifestyle diseases like diabetes and PCOS. As a result, making this internal switch has the potential to control inflammation, manage Type 2 Diabetes, and even reverse fatty liver.
When a person eats frequently, the primary source used for energy is always glucose. As a result, there is never a need for the metabolic ‘flip’ to occur in the body. Further, as the insulin resistance increases with weight gain and diabetes, the time it takes for the switch to happen also increases.
In animal studies, IF has shown to improve glucose metabolism, reduce glucose and insulin concentrations, reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure, improve heart health, and increase resistance of cells to stress. Only some of these results are investigated as yet on humans in long term studies. In short -term studies on humans, intermittent fasting seems to have resulted in significant weight loss, as well as increased insulin sensitivity in overweight people. In few studies, IF has been shown to reduce overall and visceral fat, which are mainly responsible to increases risk of diabetes.
So Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Me?
The initial data and results we’re seeing definitely look encouraging. While we await further studies to show the impact of IF on subjects with conditions like heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases, what we do know for certain is that IF can be beneficial for most healthy, normal weight, overweight or obese adults. People on any medications, especially ones like insulin or glucose lowering drugs, should consult their physicians for clearance before trying intermittent fasting, and to adjust dosages according to the duration of IF.
And that’s the low-down on the Intermittent Fasting practice. Will you be giving it a try? Drop us a comment below and let us know!
- Chitra from Grow Fit