Intermittent Fasting is a method of eating where you set the periods when you allow yourself to eat and periods when you are supposed to fast. Simply put, instead of eating meals and snacks whenever you want, you are to set a specific window of time when you can and can’t eat. It’s worth noting that Intermittent Fasting is not considered a diet plan because it only requires you to change your eating pattern. It doesn’t specify what you should and shouldn’t eat (in moderation of course), rather just when you eat.
There are a lot of options on how to do Intermittent Fasting but here are the three methods recommended for beginners.
The 12:12 Method
This is perhaps the easiest and simplest way to do Intermittent Fasting. From the name itself, you can eat for 12 hours a day, and fast for the next 12 hours. If you go to bed at 10:00 PM, you should stop eating at 8:00 PM. That’s when your 12-hour fast starts. In this case, you will have to delay your first meal to 8:00 AM. Easy peasy, right?
The 16:8 Method
The same goes with this method, except you are fasting for 16 hours a day, leaving 8 hours for eating. Simply put, you only have 8 hours to consume all the food your body needs and wants for the day. In the example above, you will have to move your first meal of the day to 12 noon with this method. So you are basically skipping breakfast and we’ve all done that before! The best part is that you can always decide on the exact time frame that works for you. Your eating period can be from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM or from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
The 5:2 Method
This method is quite different from the two above. Instead of hours, we’re talking about days. But it’s not as hard as you think. Basically, you have 5 days when you can eat normally. But on the 2 remaining days, you are to restrict yourself to no more than 500 calories each day. You can choose when your fasting days are depending on your schedule, as long as they’re not back to back.
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Intermittent Fasting as a weight-loss strategy has been around for years, and scientists and nutrition experts agree that Intermittent Fasting makes sense. Here’s how it works: When we eat, the food we take in is broken down into molecules. In particular, carbohydrates are converted to sugars which leads to an increase in insulin levels. Insulin signals our body to burn the converted sugars for energy. The idea of Intermittent Fasting as a weight-loss approach is to allow our insulin levels to go down for hours to release the stored sugars in our fat cells for energy. And this only happens when we don’t eat for a certain period of time.
A 2020 study shows that Intermittent Fasting in older women results in positive changes in body composition with as much as a body fat reduction in a short amount of time implementing the 16:8 method.
IMPORTANT: For those who have diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular conditions, it’s best to consult a doctor before trying out any of the methods mentioned. Your doctor can also help you decide on which method is the most suitable for you.
One important note is during fasting periods, you are allowed to drink non-caloric beverages like water, tea, and black coffee. This will help reduce the hunger pangs that can occur, especially for longer fasting periods. To make things even easier, a simple meal plan that you can actually follow is a must-have. Stick to the meals you normally eat and just plan out when you are going to eat them. However, it’s best to incorporate healthier foods, especially protein and fiber-rich products, and reduce junk food to have better results.
I recommend starting out with the easiest method to allow your body to transition to your new eating pattern. As you feel more comfortable, you can adjust your fasting period to more than 12 hours. In the end, the method you choose doesn’t matter as long as it’s working for you, and you can easily implement it.