Intermittent fasting is an approach to eating that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. It is based on the concept that humans were designed to eat for short periods of time followed by hours or sometimes days of fasting.
In intermittent fasting, there are usually no food or caloric restrictions in terms of what to eat or drink, and only restrictions on when to eat and drink. However, it is generally recommended that those who intermittently fast to stick to healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for maximum benefits.
During the fasting period, non-caloric beverages such as water, coffee, and tea are permitted.
How Do You Intermittently Fast?
In intermittent fasting, there are generally no food or calorie restrictions, but there are restrictions on when to eat. For example, eating may be restricted to an 8-hour window during the day, with 16 hours of fasting in between.
Some popular methods of intermittent fasting include:
- 16/8 daily regimen: of 8 hours of eating followed by 16 hours of fasting
- 5/2 method: eat only 500-600 calories for 2 non-consecutive days, and 5 days of normal eating per week
- “Eat-Stop-Eat” method: two 24-hour fasts per week on non-consecutive days
It can take the body two to four weeks to acclimate to intermittent fasting.
It is generally not advised to go for periods longer than 24 hours without eating because it might be dangerous.
What Are Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Some studies have shown the benefits of intermittent fasting to include:
What Are Risks of Intermittent Fasting?
Talk to your doctor before starting any intermittent fasting plan because it might not be advised for everyone.
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for:
- Children and teens under age 18
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- People who have a history of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia
- People who use medications that must be taken with food
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems
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