Dt. Geetika Uppal
Gold-medalist in Nutritional Science and the founder of ‘Foodmatters by Dt.Geetika Uppal’
Interestingly, whoever has attempted to lose weight and considered feeling instantly good about their body has heard experts and celebrities droll over intermittent fasting. Though the concept of fasting for religious purposes among distinct faiths has been around for centuries, the surging popularity of intermittent fasting in the contemporary world is owed to its ease and health benefits.
However, for the majority who believe they understand the art of intermittent fasting, there is a wrong and right way of approaching it. Unlike most of the other diet plans that concentrate on what to eat, Intermittent Fasting is fixated on when to eat!
In the course of intermittent fasting, one can only eat during a specific time. Fasting for a precise number of hours each day or eating just one meal a couple of days a week can help your body burn fat. Usually, one consumes three meals and two snacks per day during waking hours, and if there isn’t any activity, then the body is merely converting the food consumed into fats. On the contrary, intermittent fasting functions on prolonging the time between meals to burn calories from the last meal consumed, initiating the burning of fats in the body altogether.
Although the idea of giving up food entirely for a few days to fit into your favorite pair of jeans or a wedding dress sounds like a quick fix, it is not safe and can have implications on your body in the long run. Therefore, always take consultation from a dietitian or nutritionist and your doctor before starting such a diet.
Different Ways of Practicing Intermittent Fasting
16/8 Intermittent Fasting Plan
The 16/8 method of intermittent fasting is the most commonly used plan which encourages a closed window or fasting for 14 to 16 hours, and an open window for 8 hours a day. As an example, you can fast after dinner (8:00 PM till noon the next day) and consume 2 to 3 proper meals or four small meals in the 8 hours open window (12 noon to 8 pm). This method is highly recommended for women. However, people who feel hungry in the morning and have a habit of eating breakfast will find it hard to follow.
You can drink water, lemon water (without sugar), black coffee, or green tea during fasting hours. Avoid dairy products like milk in tea or coffee during fasting hours. Also, adhere to a healthy diet during the open window; eating fruits and vegetables is encouraged to have a balanced meal.
5:2 Intermittent Fasting Plan
The 5:2 intermittent fasting plan, also known as ‘fast diet’ involves eating normally for five days a week and fasting for the rest of the two days (restricting calorie intake to 500cal for women and 600cal for men).
For instance, one can eat normally on all the days except Sunday and Wednesday. On the two fasting days, eat two meals of 250-300 calories each, along with zero-calorie liquids at other times.
Eat-Stop-Eat Intermittent Fasting Plan
The Eat-Stop-Eat intermittent fasting plan involves complete fasting for 24 hours in between the week, which means that one will have to avoid eating from day one’s dinner to the next day’s dinner, or breakfast to breakfast, or lunch to lunch, according to personal preference.
You can drink water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages during the fast but avoid having solid food. For other days, you can eat a regular diet which implies that no fasting is needed on these days. Evidently, this diet is hard to follow for some people, but one can start from 14 to 16 hours of fasting and gradually increase the duration.
Alternative Day Intermittent Fasting Plan
The alternative day intermittent fasting plan has shown proven results and is recommended for beginners. It involves eating normally every alternate day and fasting between those days, and consuming only 500 calories on the fasting days.
The Warrior Diet Plan
The warrior diet plan is one of the most famous diet plans that has given remarkable results in the past. It includes consuming fruits and vegetables during the day and a proper meal between 4:00-5:00 pm. One can only consume water, coffee, or zero-calorie drinks after that.
Spontaneous Meal Skipping Plan
The spontaneous meal skipping plan does not have a fixed regime, a person can skip any meal any time of the day, but the other meals have to be with the recommended calorie intake. This method is recommended for beginners, especially those who are not habitual to fasting and can gradually increase the duration of fasting adapting to other plans.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during fasting hours to keep yourself hydrated.
- Do portion control and avoid any junk food.
- Do physical activities such as walking, running, and cardio to boost weight loss and increase muscle mass in the body.
- Don’t do intermittent fasting if you are – a child or a teenager (under age 18), a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, and if you have conditions such as diabetes or blood sugar or a history of eating disorders.
- Don’t ignore your body, listen to it. If your body is giving up, feeling dizzy or weak, or you’re on your monthly period – it is time to temporarily stop the diet and continue when you are feeling better.
- Don’t presume that the non-fasting time is open to all types of food. Eat healthily and don’t overeat.
- Don’t break the fast too quickly; first have something small with high nutrients such as fruits or smoothies.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Improves Memory: Recent studies have shown that intermittent fasting has improved verbal memory in adults.
Increases Stamina: Adults fasting for nearly 16 hours a day have shown to be more physically active than others as they’ve lost more fat and not muscle mass.
Prevents Obesity: Intermittent fasting prevents obesity as eating hours are limited, and food consumed by an individual is used as energy rather than being stored as fat.
Improves blood pressure and heart rate: Adults practicing intermittent fasting have shown improvement with blood pressure and heart rate conditions.
Intermittent Fasting is a weight-loss tool with benefits that serves exciting results for many people. You will only know if this works well for you once have tried it, and with the many options that are available to choose from, not doing so will need some real good excuse. So which of the plans is it going to be for you to begin with?