Fasting is a proven way to scientifically reduce weight and maintain the overall health of an individual. It has been a part of the culture for centuries and people fast for various religious occasions and to stay toned as well. Intermittent fasting is a new phenomenon where a person has to eat in intervals and is one step ahead of the regular fasting. The fasting continues for a few days and a person should have a specific goal in mind to achieve with fasting. The fasting does not include any specific diet to be followed but revolves around the eating pattern which is altered while fasting. It has become a fitness trend and many athletes and fitness trainers suggest going for intermittent fasting to get back in shape and make it a way of life for innumerable health benefits.
Methods of Intermittent Fasting
There are multiple ways to do intermittent fasting and all of them involve splitting a day or week into a specific period of eating and fasting. There is generally no restriction on what a person should eat but if it is goal-based fasting then an intermittent fasting diet meal plan should be followed.
The fasting methods followed by the people are discussed below:
The 16/8 Method: It involves dividing the day into 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating periods. The breakfast has to be skipped and the eating phase is restricted to a period of 8 hours generally from 1 pm to 9 pm followed by fasting. People find this method to be more adaptable as most of the hours are spent while sleeping and one has to refrain from eating from 10 pm to 12 pm.
The 12/12 Method: The method is good for beginners who are looking forward to starting the technique of intermittent fasting. The 12 hours eating period is from 6 am to 6 pm and then the fasting continues for 12 continuous hours. Some people are already following this technique in their daily life. The idea is to avoid any late-night meal even if there is an urge for eating. The method is powerful as it can be adopted by the working professionals as well.
The 20/4 Method: The method is quite intense as the eating period is restricted to only 4 hours a day and the fasting goes on for 20 hours. The method is powerful enough to reduce the weight instantly but one should always consult a physician if any persistent recurring issues can be affected because of continuous fasting.
Eat-Stop-Eat: The method involves fasting for complete 24 hours once or twice a week and the normal diet is followed during the other days.
5:2 Diet Method: When the Eat-Stop-Eat becomes difficult to follow, one can shift to a 5:2 diet wherein for a day or two in a week, only 500 to 600 calories should be consumed and a normal diet has to be followed during the rest of the days.
Please note that there are no rules to what one should eat while following any intermittent fasting method but for better results, it is advisable to have healthy food with fewer calories and more nutrients. While following any method, if one munches fast food and a high-calorie diet then the results might not be much substantial.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting has shown immensely good results in improving the overall health of the body. As it is said that, “A healthy mind lives in a healthy body” and by fasting one can overhaul the lifestyle which results in bringing the body back to the natural state of health.
Some of the benefits that are observed in the people following intermittent fasting are as follows:
- Repairs Body: Fasting alters the healing mechanism of the body by repairing the damaged cells and bringing a hormonal balance which results in fat burning and weight reduction
- At the genome level, fasting causes a change in the molecular level related to cells longevity and enhances protection against infectious diseases
- Increased Energy Level: There is an upsurge in the energy level because of the lower level of insulin in the body, higher growth hormones and norepinephrine leading to the fat breakdown which provides excessive energy
- There is an increase in the metabolic rate of the body by 3.6-14% which aggravates the utilization of calories
- Fasting lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance leading to a decrease in the blood sugar level. For the people who have symptoms of type 2 diabetes, intermittent fasting can be a preventive mechanism
- Brain Health: Intermittent fasting has shown expressive results in preventing nerve cell damage and improving the brain functioning and further helps in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease
- Youthful and Young: Fasting is known to be an anti-aging technique as it removes the toxins and oxidants from the body and increases the efficiency of internal organs
- Chronic Diseases: Helps in reducing the inflammation of the body caused by auto-immune disorders
There are innumerable benefits of intermittent fasting and one should always set a goal in mind to derive the technique to health results.
7 Days Intermittent Fasting Diet Meal Plan
There are multiple diet plans available and you should follow the one as per the goals. The diet plan presented below is as per the 16/8 Method wherein there are 8 hours of eating period and 16 hours of fasting.
|D||8:00 AM||8:30 AM||12:00 PM||3:00 PM||7:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|D 1||Lemon water||Skip breakfast||Avocado chicken salad||Nuts||Basil pesto pasta||Fasting starts|
|D2||Black Coffee||Skip breakfast||Vegan chickpea salad||Low sugar fruits||Mexican tempeh||Fasting starts|
|D 3||Black Coffee||Skip breakfast||Tuna avocado salad wrap||Hummus and raw veggie sticks||Fried noodles||Fasting starts|
|D 4||Apple cider vinegar drink||Skip breakfast||Broccoli tofu salad||Dark chocolate||Salmon kale salad||Fasting starts|
|D 5||Lemon water||Skip breakfast||Turkey chili||Organic edamame||Garlic chicken salad||Fasting starts|
|D 6||Lemon water||Skip breakfast||Grilled salmon salad||Dark chocolate||Chicken tortilla soup||Fasting starts|
|D 7||Black Coffee||Skip breakfast||Sprouts, chicken||Greek Yogurt||Chicken with rice||Fasting starts|
Foods Suitable for Intermittent Fasting
While fasting, there will be instances of spiking hunger and the urge to eat in the fasting window. One should eat food items that keep the tummy full for a longer period so that the hunger can be suppressed. Some of the food items that can help are listed below:
High Fiber Foods: Fibers are mandatory in the diet as it promotes overall digestive health, reduces constipation, keeps the stomach full for long, increases health bacteria in the gut. It can further assist in lowering insulin levels and weight loss. Fibers can be easily integrated within the diet and some of the food items rich in fibers are pears, strawberries, avocados, apples, nuts, raspberries bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, sprouts, lentils, kidney beans, oats, quinoa, almonds, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes.
Drink Plenty of Water: Drinking water rescues the urges and fills the stomach for long and keeps the body hydrated.
Drink Tea/ Coffee: Tea and coffee suppresses the hunger and reduces the appetite. One can add a cup of tea/ coffee in the diet to lower the urges.
Cons of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone as the fasting phase can be quite overwhelming to some. Besides, there are some cons to following the fasting for too long. Check out the below-listed cons some people have experienced
- Eating too much in a small period can lead to digestive problems
- Loss of energy, feeling cold and mild headache
- Fertility issues in women because of nutrient deficiencies and electrolyte imbalance
- Not suitable for people with diabetes and hypertension
Intermittent fasting has helped many people to get fit and reduce the excessive weight they have been carrying for long but it is important to know the body first before starting the fasting as there can be some issues associated with continuous fasting. (1, 2, 3)