Throughout history, there have been many motivations behind fasting. Most of them, in the past, were not for the purposes of modern “dieting”, either. In ancient times, people had to often go for a long period of time eating little to nothing, to save their food reserves, or due to there just being no available sources at the time. Long winters or dry seasons were common provocateurs for this scenario.
Various religious traditions have, throughout time, also called for fasting and meditation for one reason or another. Given that these have been such common practices across history, it’s clear that the human body is capable of enduring somewhat prolonged times with little or no food. It may not be pleasant, but it’s entirely possible and safe within reason.
However, when it comes to fasting for dietary and fitness reasons, traditional fasts aren’t actually that effective. Going a day or two – or even more – with no food will actually cause your body to hold onto fats, and to convert what you do eat into fat reserves because it simply thinks you’re at continuous risk of starvation.
Excitingly, a relatively new concept – the intermittent fast – is a different animal, and may not only be more effective but also far less unpleasant as well.
So Exactly, What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is exactly how it sounds – patterned, occasional stretches of time where you either don’t eat or eat a bare minimum of calories. There is no one “right” way to go about this fast. However, the ultimate goal of any approach is to reduce the number of calories consumed in a day’s time, discipline the mind and body to crave less food and to encourage better digestion and burning of calories you do consume.
It is important, however, to pair any of these approaches with a proper diet and exercise, as, by itself, any kind of fasting runs the previously-mentioned risk of tricking the body into hoarding fats more aggressively.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
There are a few different approaches to the intermittent fast, and it depends on the individual’s body chemistry, lifestyle and financial situation, which one is the most ideal.
- The 5:2 Diet: This is the least strenuous version of this fast, wherein you eat only 500-600 calories in a day’s time, for two days out of the week. For those with blood sugar issues or those who have a physically demanding job, this one may be the safest approach.
- The 16/8 Method: This one is the most popular, and for many people, probably the easiest one to do. In this take on intermittent fasting, you spend 16 hours a day without eating. This is achieved by eating only between noon and 8 pm. The downside to this is, it basically means omitting breakfast, which is something many doctors and dietitians, to this day, argue is unwise. If you’re not a big breakfast person in the first place, this is actually a very easy routine to settle into.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This one is probably the most strenuous one, due to how irregular it is, and the duration of the fast while it occurs. Once or twice a week, you don’t eat anything after dinner one day and continue to not eat until dinner the next day. This produces a 24-hour fasting period. This walks the line on confusing your body, though, as discussed earlier.
The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are several benefits to intermittent fasting, especially when paired with a modern diet (such as the popular keto diet). First and foremost, this intermittent fasting takes a bite out of the amount of food you eat in a week’s time. This can have far-reaching reductions to your caloric intake, given this tends to cut out the fatty, sugary snacks we all eat in a rush, or after meals.
Along with this, it trains the body to be far more efficient with the nutrition it receives (if paired with exercise and diet), which can help you overcome an excessive appetite. This discipline can also help improve your stick-to-it-iveness when it comes to your exercise and diet regimes.
It can also help you feel more energetic, and make you far more productive, as “boredom eating” will be replaced by hobbies – preferably active ones at that. It doesn’t hurt that this reduced unnecessary eating can save a decent bit of money too.
Who Should NOT Try Intermittent Fasting?
For all the benefits intermittent fasting does have, especially combined with regular exercise and the keto diet, it’s not ideal for everyone.
- Hypoglycemics: Hypoglycemics are subject to sudden, drastic drops in blood sugar similar to certain types of diabetes. When these drops occur, eating something with sugar or starches immediately is absolutely compulsory. Along with this, prolonged periods of time without eating, even when a hypoglycemic individual feels fine, can promote these attacks.
Diabetics: Similarly, diabetics need to eat at regular times in the day, to help regulate their blood sugar. Randomly cutting out food for prolonged periods of time can be just as hazardous (if not more so) for diabetics as with hypoglycemics.
Patients on Some Medicines: Individuals who suffer some ailment that requires regular medication to be taken, often can’t practice intermittent fasting, due to many medications needing to be taken with food. The 5:2 diet may be possible in some cases, but it’s probably unwise.
- Children Under 18: Children under 18 should actually eat three balanced meals a day, 7 days a week. Their bodies and minds are growing, and they need a lot more caloric intake than do adults. While promoting self-control and moderation with the amount of food eaten daily is a good idea, skipping meals or not eating for a day or more at a time, would be detrimental to a child. This goes for children suffering from obesity as well.
Why Intermittent Fasting?
If you feel your diet and exercise in and of themselves aren’t cutting it, it may be because your body’s not tuned to be the most efficient it can be. Intermittent fasting, paired with that diet and exercise, can program your body to maximize its use of calories it takes in.
Along with this, it’s far less stressful and unpleasant than a strict, unilateral reduction of food intake or an even stricter diet, which means you’ll feel more compelled to stick with it.
Should You Do Intermittent Fasting and the Keto Diet?
If you’re over 18, and you don’t suffer from blood sugar-related illnesses, then pairing intermittent fasting with the keto diet is actually a very powerful strategy. With the keto diet, you reduce (or eliminate) the amount of sugars and carbohydrates in your diet, which causes your body to achieve a state called ketosis. In this state, the body burns calories much more efficiently, including fats and proteins, able to get a richer, more lasting energy than starches and sugars can provide.
The real reason keto is such a powerhouse when paired with intermittent fasting is, the risk with fasting that your body may try to hoard fats, is directly combated by the ketosis phenomenon. This dietary practice isn’t right for everyone, and it’s important, with the keto diet, to include dietary supplements to combat some vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well. As with every diet, it is always a good idea to consult your physician before making any dramatic changes to your diet.
Swing by our online store today, we’ve got great dietary supplements that can help you safely enjoy the benefits of intermittent fasting with the powerful keto diet!