At first glance, intermittent fasting may seem like another diet fad. However, for millions of people around the world, intermittent fasting is more like a lifestyle. It is believed to be very effective for weight loss and to have numerous other benefits. Find out what is intermittent fasting and how to do it right!
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1. What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a special eating pattern where you only consume food during a certain period of time. Most intermittent fasting patterns are daily, which means you eat for a few hours a day and then fast for the remaining part of the day.
However, there are also more extreme versions of intermittent fasting. A few years ago the whole world fascinated with the 5/2 diet. Essentially, the 5/2 diet is a form of intermittent fasting where you eat normally for 5 days a week and then eat little to nothing during the remaining two days.
2. Benefits of intermittent fasting
Recently, intermittent fasting has been adopted not only by people looking for an effective weight loss solution, but also by people who are known as biohackers. It’s true – intermittent fasting has a huge potential in changing your whole health for the better. Here are the most important intermittent fasting benefits:
- Using intermittent fasting for weight loss is probably the most popular cause of choosing this dieting pattern. By limiting your eating window every day, you automatically limit the number of calories, which leads to noticeable weight loss. Adding even minimal exercise on top of the diet will make your weight loss even more effective.
- Intermittent fasting has a variety of benefits for your brain: it promotes better memory, eliminates depression, and prevents Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of nerve cell degeneration.
- Intermittent fasting can potentially help you live longer and healthier. It lowers the risk of developing diabetes, makes your body more resilient and fit, and even lowers the chance of contracting certain types of cancer.
3. How to do intermittent fasting
If you’ve ever seen intermittent fasting results achieved by other people, you were probably impressed by their visible weight loss. If you want intermittent fasting to do the same for you, it’s important to keep to a number of rules.
The first choice you’ll need to make when beginning your intermittent fasting routine is the schedule. Essentially, you can pick any number of hours for your eating and fasting windows, but the results are going to be very different.
The most popular schedule is the 16/8 intermittent fasting. With this schedule, you eat for 8 hours a day and fast for the remaining 16. The choice of the 8 eating hours is completely up to you: you can skip breakfast and eat your first meal at 12:00 and your last one at 20:00. If you prefer to start your day with breakfast, you can have the first meal at 8:00 and the last one at 16:00. You can also choose something in between and eat from 10:00 to 18:00.
One of the best things about this diet pattern is that there is no strict intermittent fasting meal plan to keep to. You can continue eating your normal meals during the eating window. Typically, you will fit from two to three major meals and one or two snacks into the 8-hour window. However, you need to make sure that your overall number of calories does not exceed your recommended amount. Use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your calorie intake and keep your intermittent fasting effective.
During the fasting hours, you cannot consume any calories at all. However, you can drink as much water and unsweetened black or green tea and coffee as you want. Fruit tea, sugar-free sodas, juices, alcohol, and dairy drinks are strictly prohibited during those hours. Consult a calorie guide online if you have doubts over any drink or food product.
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