The 411 on Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is the latest nutrition trend to take the world by storm, captivating the public and health professionals alike and promising everything from enhanced cognitive health to weight loss to graceful aging.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting refers to any diet that cycles between predetermined periods of fasting and eating. Many people fast because fasting offers flexibility. It’s an effective way to reduce calories and can be much easier than trying to stick to a traditional diet. Instead of dictating what you eat, intermittent fasting is all about when and how much you eat.
The most common ways to practice intermittent fasting break down into two categories: time-restricted eating and whole-day fasting.
With time-restricted eating, you limit your food consumption to a few hours per day to reduce the number of calories you consume.
16:8 method: In this popular protocol, the eating time frame is restricted to eight hours per day, and fasting is required for the remaining 16 hours. Most people only consume two meals during the shortened eating period, which helps limit the total calories consumed. However, eating even one high-calorie meal a day can easily negate the benefits of this weight loss strategy.
As the name suggests, whole-day fasting is the practice of significantly reducing caloric intake for a full day or more. Most people who follow this regimen limit their food intake to 300 to 500 calories on fasting days. Proponents of whole-day fasting laud how easily it can be incorporated into any lifestyle and appreciate the unrestrictive nature of nonfasting days.
5:2 diet: Those following the 5:2 plan eat as they normally would for five days each week, not restricting calories or following a meal plan. The other two days, calorie consumption is limited to 500 calories. This strategy can be effective as long as the five days of eating normally don’t lead to excessive calorie consumption.
Every-other-day diet: Those who follow this plan eat normally one day and fast the next. On fasting days, no more than 500 calories are consumed. This strategy is likely to help limit calories, but many people may find fasting every other day, restrictive and hard to follow.
Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work?
The best way to tell if a new diet trend is here to stay is if there is any scientific research to back it up. Different intermittent fasting protocols have been widely studied, with much of the research validating their popularity. For example, research has shown that regular intermittent fasting supports metabolic, heart, immune, and brain health, among other things.
The weight loss associated with intermittent fasting plans is shown to be similar to the weight loss associated with traditional diets that focus on calorie restriction. While the scientific community is split as to which is superior for weight loss, there is ample evidence that intermittent fasting provides more flexibility and supports overall health and wellness.
If tracking and limiting your calorie intake on a daily basis is a turnoff for you — or you hate feeling like you can’t enjoy your favorite foods — intermittent fasting may be for you.
Looking for Guidance?
Figuring out how to implement intermittent fasting can be intimidating. To make it easier and provide much-needed guidance, Isagenix International, a global health and wellness company, created a scientifically validated protocol based off intermittent fasting known as Cleanse Days. With this protocol, you follow the whole-day fasting approach and abstain from full meals for one or two days depending on your goals. Isagenix provides a complete step-by-step guide along with targeted nutritional support to help you feel your best while reaping the benefits of intermittent fasting. For more information, read Cleansing vs. Cleanse for Life: Breaking Down Cleanse Days and How They Work.