Diet & Nutrition

Intermittent Fasting –A Beginner’s Guide

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting now earns a reputation for being the best way to improve and simplify a lifestyle. It is among the best health and fitness trends with scientific backing. It will be a milestone to learn how you can alternate the periods of eating and fasting without compromising your health and focus.

The article has all the insights about the things to do while intermittent fasting. Get the facts and stay ahead with the best tips for beginners on intermittent fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a unique eating pattern that alternates the periods of fasting and eating. Other eating habits will specify the foods you can take, but in this case, you will only know when to take them.

It is therefore correct to argue that IF is an eating pattern rather than a diet. The article shall deliberate on many eating patterns that a beginner should know when starting the habit.

If you are a beginner, you should be ready for 16 hour and 24-hour fasting hours twice a week. It is worthwhile to note that intermittent fasting was there during the hunting and gathering ages because, at some point, they will not get what to eat, forcing them to intermittent fast without knowing. This reason makes humans have the capacity to stay for some days without food, though some do fast for religious reasons.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Is there any research backing and scientific evidence that supports intermittent fasting? Of course, many emerging pieces of evidence are now supporting the health benefits of intermittent fasting.

According to Mattson’s studies, intermittent fasting will enable the human body to ketosis. Ketosis is a win for people who want to lose some stubborn fat because you will be burning fat reserves for energy.

Individuals with weight loss issues will be happy with the eating pattern because it effectively drops insulin levels, increasing weight loss. The fasting process will trigger your body to use glucose available in the liver, but eventually, the stored fats will come next since your body will need energy even when there is no food.Intermittent fasting

Best Intermittent Fasting Plans

So how will you get started with intermittent fasting? You need the best fasting plans to help you get the best out of your program. Check out the following six intermittent fasting plans that can yield weight loss, increase the life span, and improve metabolic health.

All the plans are good, but an individual should figure out the best plan that will work best for them. You may need a piece of expert advice, and you can only get that from a physician. Talk to your physician before beginning intermittent fasting.

Here are our best six plans that you can try:

  • The 5.2 Diet
  • Eat stop eat plan
  • The 16/8 method
  • Alternate day fasting
  • The warrior diets
  • Spontaneous meal skipping

The 5.2 Diet

The 5.2 diet is among the famous intermittent fasting plans that will entail taking everyday meals for five days and restricting the calories in the other two days of the week. Michael Mosley takes the credit for popularizing the diet, which was referred to as a fast meal before.

The diet plan recommends 600 calories for men and 500 for women for five days and restricting in two days to 250 to 300 for women and men, respectively.

Eat Stop Eat

The eat stop eat the famous Brad Pilon popularized intermittent fasting plan. It involves a whole day of fasting where you can decide to fast from lunch to lunch.

The fasting time takes 24 hours, and you must take no meals till the elapse of time. If you can get water, beverages, and other calorie-less food, it is allowed during fasting, but not solid food. The fasting days can be one or two days, depending on how you want to achieve the benefits.

Fasting for 24 hours can be quite a challenge for many individuals, and it is advisable to start with fewer hours then gradually increase till you reach the 24-hour mark. Don’t worry if you are doing it to manage weight loss; take your food usually during the eating days.

The 16/8 Method

The 16/8 intermittent fasting ranks among the popular methods which will need 16 hours of fasting and fixing the meal times in the remaining 8 hours plan.

What you eat in the 8 hours depends on what you can afford, but the fasting should be 16 hours daily. Martin Berkhan popularized the method, which you can also call the lean gains protocol.

The method can be easier to achieve if you take a meal at 8.00 pm and stay without any food until non the next day. Zero-calorie foods are allowable during fasting because they will gap the feeling of hunger. The 16/8 method demands healthy foods during the eating window and reducing the intake of high-calorie foods.

Alternate-Day Fasting

The alternate-day fasting will involve daily fasting by either restricting the calories. You fast about every other day, though a trusted source agrees that it may not be effective for the people who need to lose some pounds weight.

Beginners should not get to a full-day fast on day one because the effects may be extreme. The process may not be unsustainable and will bring discomfort.

The Warrior Diets

If you are a vegetarian, you will love the warrior diet that Hofmekler popularized. The worrier diet plan involves taking fruits and vegetables during the day and a heavy meal at night. The eating plan will have four-hour feasting after a long day of fasting.

The whole, unprocessed food is typical in warrior diets and will resemble the paleo diet. Warrior’s intermittent fasting plan was practical during the hunter-gathering age because, in some instances, it was impossible to find food while hunting.

Spontaneous Meal Skipping

Spontaneous meal skipping is another excellent way to reap the benefits of intermittent fasting. It should not necessarily be a standard but rather an intentional practice of skipping some meals when you feel okay.

The meals you will miss will vary depending on your capacity to handle them. Missing two meals is okay, but be sure that you can survive the starvation. Supporters of spontaneous meal skipping recommend eating a healthy diet after skipping to fulfill your body’s dietary requirements.

Healthy balanced food will make it easier to survive the lucky fasting days. Spontaneous meal skipping is manageable, especially when working on a tight schedule and sometimes tempted to skip some meals.

Foods to Eat When Intermittent Fasting

The goal of intermittent fasting is not always about losing weight! It majorly focuses on staying fit and healthy, hence necessitating the need to factor in a balanced diet. An IF meal plan will entail veggies, fruits, proteins, and lean fats.

The article separates them into food categories like proteins, fats, and gaps. It also has a specification for people who needs healthy guts and improve hydration.

Check the specifications below to guide you in understanding what you will need before getting started with intermittent fasting.

What to Eat When You Need Proteins During IF

An adult needs to meet specific protein requirements to be healthy. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for proteins is 0.8 grams for every 1kg weight. Everyone has specific fitness goals and activity levels.

Proteins influence weight loss by increasing satiety, enabling you to survive for long hours without craving food. Increasing protein intake is a win for people who wants to build their muscles.

It is therefore recommended for practicing strength training. Proteins also influence metabolic processes hence increasing the chances of losing weight. Recent research suggests positive results in belly reduction for men who take more proteins.

Here is the Intermittent fasting protein food list that you can try

  • Milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Poultry and fish
  • Seafood
  • Whole grains

Foods to Eat for Carbs During IF

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend 45 to 65 percent of diet being carbs. They are the primary energy sources in your body, though you can do with proteins and fats. Sugar, fiber, and starch are the leading sources of carbs that you must include when you are on an intermittent fasting plan.

Many people worry about carbs causing weight gain, but you should note that carbs do vary in content.

The leading IF food list for carbs includes:

  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Kidney beans
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Mangoes
  • Avocado
  • Almonds
  • Broccoli
  • Pears
  • Mangoes
  • Carrots
  • Chia seeds
  • Chicken peas

What You Should Eat for Fats During Intermittent Fasting

The 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans recommends 20 to 35% of daily calories to contain fats. There are several kinds of fats, and the kinds that you choose will determine what you get.

Trans fats are responsible for increased inflammation and will reduce the level of good cholesterol. Trans fats are available in baked goods and fried foods. Other types of fats like saturated fats may increase the risk of heart diseases.

Common Healthy fats include monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats. The fats are often appreciated for their capacity to lower blood pressure and gap heart diseases.

Here is the IF food list for fats:

  • Full fat yogurt
  • Chia seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Avocados
  • Fatty fish
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts

What You Should Eat for a Healthy Gut During Intermittent Fasting

Over a billion good bacteria inhabit the human gut, therefore necessitating the need for a healthy gut. The microbiota in the human gut has an impact on digestion and mental health.

The bacteria need protection while you are intermittent fasting. The food list best for gut health will deliver many benefits like reducing the food intake, improving the excretion of fats ingested in the body.

Check the list of food below that you should have for your healthy gut:

  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha
  • All vegetables
  • Miso
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Fermented vegetables

Foods to Eat For Hydration When Intermittent Fasting

According to the national academies of sciences, engineering, and medicine, the human daily fluid requirement is 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women. The term fluid encompasses drinks, water, and anything that contains water. Fasting increases the chances of dehydration.

Here is a list of fluids that you should take while intermittent fasting:

  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Sparkling water
  • Oranges
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce
  • Skim milk
  • Peaches
  • Plain yogurt
  • Celery

There have been many promising results about water for weight loss. A study in 2016 suggested hydration as the best way to effectively lose weight because it increases fat burning and reduces food cravings.

What Should I Avoid While Intermittent Fasting?

In your intermittent fasting schedule, you should avoid the following foods;

  • Candy bars
  • Processed meat
  • Alcoholic beverage
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage
  • Refined grains

Will Intermittent Fasting Affect My Cells and Hormones?

Yes, the process of fasting will stimulate your body to initiate several cellular and molecular processes. First, the body will adjust the hormone activities in the body to make the stored fats to be more accessible. Secondly, the body initiates the cell repair processes and changes the gene impression.

In brief:

  • The body will initiate changes in the function of genes y influencing longevity and protection against invasion by pathogens.
  • Intermittent fasting will cause your cells to begin cellular repair processes like autophagy. Autophagy is a process where cells begin the digestion and removal of old dysfunctional proteins in the cells.
  • Fasting will signal the body to increase the human growth hormone, effectively helping in fat loss and muscle gain.
  • Intermittent fasting will lower the levels of insulin, hence enabling the body to access stored fats readily.

Notably, the impacts of intermittent fasting on cell hormones are beneficial, and no one should worry about it. All the effects above are beneficial for people who a= have issues with blood sugar, weight gain, and muscle building.

Are There any Intermittent Fasting Benefits?

The fame of intermittent fasting can be attributed to many benefits that the article discusses in brief. The benefits have a research backing after many studies that involve humans and animals. The results are promising and confirm how intermittent fasting can be an excellent tool for weight management and health.

  • According to the recently completed studies, there is a relationship between insulin levels and intermittent fasting. Fasting increases insulin resistance, effective for lowering blood sugar by 6% and lowering insulin levels by 20 to 31%, enabling it to gap type 2 diabetes.
  • Intermittent fasting helps reduce belly fat and weight management without restricting calories.
  • Promoters of intermittent fasting agree with the idea that it improves heart health. The process lowers bad cholesterol, blood triglycerides, and inflammatory markers, which are the risk factors for heart conditions.
  • Recent research approves intermittent fasting for reducing the causes of inflammation because it reduces inflammation markers, which is a crucial driver for many chronic diseases.
  • A recent study on animals suggests the possibility of intermittent fasting preventing cancer.
  • Intermittent fasting influences brain health by increasing the brain hormone, which aids in the growth of new nerve cells. The development of new brain cells helps protect against Alzheimer’s condition.
  • Research on rats suggests extending a lifespan by increasing the life span by 30 to 83% longer.

The results about intermittent fasting are promising but will be better if there were better research on a more significant sample.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

Intermittent fasting is an eating habit where you give your body a break from digesting food. The process will trigger your body to utilize stored fats. The eating habit is safe for many provided that you follow it rightly.

People with eating disorders should not practice intermittent fasting, neither should the people with an underlying medical condition practice it.

The article shall subdivide it into three:

  • Safety for diabetics
  • Seniors
  • Teens

How Safe is Intermittent Fasting for People With Diabetes?

The report published in BMJ confirms intermittent fasting as a non-medical way to reverse diabetes by eliminating any need for insulin. It works by initiating a metabolic switch in the body after fasting for 12 hours, and the body starts using ketones instead of glucose.

Diabetic patients should regulate the fasting to a maximum of 8 hours lest they risk experiencing hypoglycemia. The risk of hypoglycemia increases when you are taking diabetes medications.

It’s, therefore, necessary to consult a physician when you are taking the antidiabetic drugs before getting started with intermittent fasting.

Will Intermittent Fasting be Safe for Seniors?

Intermittent fasting is a strategy that older people can use to optimize their health. The studies suggest that IF improves the walking speeds since the process improves mobility and physical performance.

The process also enhances the weight loss of the adults, though the opinions are still differing, suggesting a need for better research.

Finally, teens won’t need to exercise intermittent fasting because their bodies are still growing. They will need all the nutrients to enhance their body growth processes. A restrictive diet may cause a deficiency in teens.

Hence it will be better to factor in other diet plans than intermittent fasting when you have issues like obesity.

Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting

The instant side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. When you are getting started, you will struggle with hunger, weakness, and lack of focus. The situation won’t last for long because your body will acclimate to it.

Intermittent fasting will be best for healthy people. If you have an underlying medical condition, it will be best to consult a physician before starting over intermittent fasting.

People who should see a physician before getting started with intermittent fasting are:

  • People with low blood pressure
  • Diabetic people
  • The underweight persons
  • People who are under medications
  • When you have issues with blood sugar regulation
  • Women who are trying to conceive
  • Breastfeeding or pregnant women
  • Women with a history of amenorrhea

It’s imperative to note that intermitted fasting is an eating habit and will have no severe Side effects because it is a process that will train your body to adapt to starvation in some specified hours.

Who Should Avoid It?

Intermittent fasting is a deliberate process to deny yourself food for certain hours in a day. It can be complete 24-hour starvation or a portion of time during the day.

Underweight people will not need intermittent fasting but rather increase their eating hours. In instances where you had an eating disorder history, you must never try intermittent fasting; but instead, you should consult a physician.

Should Women Fast?

Intermittent fasting is best for men but not women. The process may worsen the blood sugar control in women, though they show better insulin advantages for men. Insufficient human research on the topic makes the conclusions to be attainable.

The research on rats found out that intermittent fasting emancipates female rats. It also causes masculinity and infertility, which suggest negativity for women.

Intermittent fasting may also interfere with the menstrual cycles. Al this demerit may suggest that intermittent fasting may not be best for women. Women should be careful with this eating habit.

They can factor it in gradually but be cautious in instances where they experience negativities. Women who are trying to conceive must not try intermittent fasting because they lead to undesirable results.

Final Thoughts

To conclude, intermittent fasting is a beneficial process for men that will enhance masculinity and help in managing weight. The process signals your body to use the stubborn fats when you are not taking any food.

Deliberate avoidance of food is a win for people who are trying to lose weight. Avoiding food helps your body to initiates a fat-burning process called ketosis. Intermittent fasting also offers other benefits, such as lowering blood sugars while also benefitting cellular repair.

It is a less demanding method to lose weight without indulging in a restrictive diet. It is easy to get started with the meal plans because you will have options, to begin with.

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Landon Nathan
Nathan writes timely content about diet and Nutrition. Furthermore, he educates readers on the importance of Fitness in our daily lives. His in-depth knowledge in diet, Nutrition, and Fitness is attributed to his four-year studies at Adlan university after pursuing a diet and nutrition degree. You won't doubt his experience and expertise in writing work, having over 100 articles posted on diet and nutrition websites. He now works as a consultant and digital content producer at Fitness and Nutrition Radio. Check his work from this website and be at the forefront with insights about Fitness, diet, and Nutrition.

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