I know that if you clicked on this article it means you already have somewhat of an interest in fasting, but I still like drilling down and getting to the HEART of why it's great, just to remind people! After all, it's good to be reminded why you're doing what you're doing, right?
Basically, when your body is in a fasted state, your insulin levels drop (fighting heart disease / diabetes), your human growth hormone levels rise to help burn fat, and then on the cellular and gene level, intermittent fasting helps you clear out dead cells and makes positive changes to your longevity genes.
It helps your body fight off unstable molecules (free radicals) and inflammation, achieving both of these things by combating oxidative stress…Again, on a cellular level!
It's hard to write a very short summary of why you should be intermittent fasting. There are just too many benefits to list!
I know you're hungry for those benefits! (But not too hungry…)
But there are many ways to fast…You could fast for 16 hours, and then eat all food in an 8-hour window, which adds up to 24 hours in the day.
That's what I do: intermittent fasting 16:8.
But then there's also the 5:2 diet, which means you limit yourself to 500 calories a day 2 days a week, then eat normally the other 5 days. For example, you might eat normally on Sunday, then restrict on Monday, then eat normally Tuesday and Wednesday, then restrict on Thursday, then eat normally on Friday and Saturday. Similarly, there's alternate-day fasting, where you eat normally on Sunday, then go on a 24-hour fast on Monday, then eat normally Tuesday, then another 24-hour fast on Wednesday, etc.
If you do that, or really any intermittent fasting program, it's extremely important that you fuel your brain with the healthy fats it needs to run, and are eating high-fat foods because that is what you and your brain are going to require!!
So then, once and for all, which pattern is best?
Well, it doesn't really matter, as long as you ARE actually getting into the fasted state. And, the LONGER you’re in the fasted state, the better. It takes 8 – 12 hours after no meals for your body to get into that awesome, fasted, low-insulin, cell-housecleaning STATE!
That’s why I personally do 16:8 fasting; that way, I am guaranteeing being in the fasted state a while, from 4 – 8 hours.
While it’s true that the 24-hour alternate day fast would be longer than this, for a lot of people that is just TOO inconvenient, too long to go, and not sustainable long-term. You want this to be a sustainable lifestyle for the rest of your, well, life, and that’s why I think the intermittent fasting 16:8 style is just perfect.