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Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly popular for improving overall health and well-being. It can help reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, and promote weight loss. Additionally, it has been shown to impact mental clarity and mood positively.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that consists of periods of eating and not eating (fasting). It involves cutting out or drastically reducing your calorie intake for specific periods throughout the day, week, or month.
There are numerous benefits to intermittent fasting. It has been linked to:
In addition, intermittent fasting has been shown to increase levels of certain hormones, such as growth hormone, which promotes fat loss and muscle growth.
Generally, intermittent fasting works by creating an energy deficit in the body.2 This means that during periods of fasting, fewer calories are consumed than are used up by normal bodily functions like digestion and daily activities.
The human body is incredibly efficient at sensing and preserving energy through various physiological processes like metabolic shifting, autophagy, and ketosis.
These processes kick into gear when we consume fewer calories than our bodies need to function optimally. Our bodies utilize stored energy sources like sugar stores (glycogen) and fat stores (lipids). We begin to burn more fat as a fuel source rather than relying on the food we consume for energy.
Simultaneously, our bodies trigger numerous internal regulatory mechanisms that can lead to various health benefits.5 This includes:
Metabolic shifting is one of the key mechanisms involved in intermittent fasting that helps us reap its benefits.
Our bodies typically rely on glucose from carbohydrates for energy; however, when we reduce our carbohydrate intake during fasting, our body shifts its primary energy source from glucose to fatty acids.
This shift leads to increased blood ketone levels associated with improved focus and clarity and a reduction in hunger levels due to the slower release of energy from fat stores vs. carbohydrates.
Autophagy is another critical process triggered by intermittent fasting. This involves destroying damaged cells to repair them and promote cellular health.
Lastly, intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body due to changes in hormone levels (namely insulin) caused by reduced calorie intake during periods of fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a great way to jump-start your weight loss journey, boost energy levels, and improve overall health.
There are many different types of intermittent fasting diets that you can choose from, depending on your goals and preferences. Here are seven of the best intermittent fasting diets to try:
The 16:8 intermittent fast is one of the most popular fasting diets out there. This involves restricting eating to an eight-hour window each day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours.
This type of fasting can be done every day or on alternate days, depending on your preference and goals.
The benefits of this diet include weight loss, improved metabolic health, and better insulin sensitivity.
Time-restricted fasting3 involves eating within a certain window of time every day. Depending on your goals and body's needs, this could be anywhere from 12-18 hours.
Benefits of this type of diet may include weight loss and improved metabolic health. Additionally, it can help reduce inflammation in the body.
On the 5:2 Fast, you normally eat for five days a week and restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 on two nonconsecutive days. This type of fasting is great for those looking to maintain their weight but also want to experience the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Potential benefits include improved mental clarity, better metabolic health, and reduced inflammation in the body.4
Eat Stop Eat involves fasting 24 hours at least once or twice weekly. During this time, you abstain from eating any food and can only drink calorie-free beverages such as water, tea, and coffee.
The benefits of this diet include weight loss, improved mental clarity, and better metabolic health.
Alternate-day fasting involves alternating between days of eating normally and days when you only eat about one-quarter of your typical calorie intake.
This diet can be tailored to fit your needs, from limiting caloric intake on alternate days each week or every other day. For example, if you normally eat 2,000 calories a day, on your fasting days, you would only consume 500 calories.
Benefits of this diet may include weight loss, improved metabolic health, and better insulin sensitivity.
The 14:10 Fast requires that you only eat during a 10-hour window each day and abstain from food for the remaining 14 hours. This type of fasting is great for those looking to lose weight but don't have the time to commit to longer fasts, such as 16:8 or 24-hour fasts.
Potential benefits include improved mental clarity, increased energy levels, and better metabolic health.
The Warrior Diet is an intermittent fasting plan wherein you undereat during the day and overeat at night. With this type of fasting, you can eat small meals throughout the day until you have one large meal in the evening.
The Warrior Diet allows you to eat for only four hours daily, followed by a 20-hour fast. During the fasting period, you can eat small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables while focusing on nutrient-dense whole foods during the eating window.
The benefits of this diet include improved metabolic health, weight loss, and increased energy levels.
No matter which type of fasting you choose, it is crucial to follow some basic guidelines to ensure safe and effective weight loss:
With the right plan and adequate support, intermittent fasting can be an effective1 tool for achieving your weight loss and health goals.