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Health and Fitness News

Timing Is Everything

Could intermittent fasting help you lose those stubborn pounds?

What if you could lose weight without going on a strict diet or exercising? What if you could eat what you want and not worry about counting calories, while only eating at certain times of day? If this sounds like something you’d like to try, keep reading.

Intermittent fasting has been around for centuries but is now gaining popularity as a way to lose weight, simplify life, and improve health. It’s not a diet plan that tells you what to eat, but a plan that tells you when to eat. If your normal eating habits include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a handful of snacks throughout the day and evening, then intermittent fasting will be a major change and challenge, but it may just pay off.

How It Works

There are 24 hours in a day, but how many of them are spent eating? With intermittent fasting, you limit the window of time each day that you eat your meals. The rest of the time is spent fasting.

There are several ways to go about it. For example, you may choose the 16/8 plan and fit all your meals into an eight-hour window and not eat for the remaining 16 hours. Or you may prefer the 5/2 approach. With this, you eat normally for five days a week and only eat one 500–600-calorie meal two days a week.

Stricter fasts that last one to four days are not recommended for health and weight loss. Fasts that last this long may actually be counterproductive for weight loss.

The Benefits

If you eat every few hours, your body uses those calories for energy. But when your body goes without food for longer periods of time, insulin levels go down and fat cells release stored sugar to be used for energy. As more fat cells are burned off, you shed pounds.

A fasting state seems to do more than just help you lose weight. Multiple animal and human studies show intermittent fasting to be a way of improving both mental and physical health by lowering blood sugar, improving metabolism, removing toxins, and reducing inflammation. These benefits help reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other chronic health conditions.

Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to notice any changes in weight or health. In the beginning while your body adjusts, you may feel extra hungry or cranky.

Is It Safe?

Even though intermittent fasting is generally considered safe, it’s not meant for everyone. Before trying this way of eating, talk with your doctor. People who should not try intermittent fasting include kids under the age of 18, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those who struggle with eating disorders. While it’s good for people at risk for diabetes, it’s not safe for those who are already living with diabetes.

Is It Effective?

When it comes to weight loss, intermittent fasting is indeed effective, especially if done while eating a healthy diet that avoids sugars and refined grains and focuses on fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, lean protein, whole grains, and health fats. Regular exercise also increases the effectiveness of this and any other diet.

Studies show weight loss due to intermittent fasting is similar to other diets, but many people have a hard time fasting for long periods. For all successful weight loss, the key is to find an eating plan that is sustainable. If eating only one meal a day is too difficult for you, then you could try the 16/8 plan. With this, you’re essentially skipping your late night snack, which can substantially reduce your calorie intake.