Intermittent fasting is a popular option for people who want to lose weight. It is a flexible, safe, and effective way to get healthier. There is much debate, though, on whether or not the fasting and eating phases should be strictly implemented and if there are more benefits in doing so.
Intermittent fasting should be implemented at the same time every day. Doing so allows your body to properly adapt to the changes, ensuring you enjoy the full benefits of the fast. Intermittent fasting essentially changes your body’s circadian rhythm, and disrupting it too often isn’t advisable.
This article will talk about why you should always stick to your intermittent fasting schedule and what benefits you can expect from doing so. I will also discuss the different options you have so you can find a plan that fits your lifestyle best. Let’s get started!
Why Intermittent Fasting Should Be at the Same Time Everyday
The most popular method of intermittent fasting is the 16/8 style. In this method, you should eat and drink within an 8-hour window. During the remaining 16 hours of your day, you must abstain from food and drinks containing calories.
Water, black coffee, and plain tea are the only types of drinks you can consume. You can do 16/8 intermittent fasting once or twice a week, or even every day if that’s what you prefer.
Experts recommend doing intermittent fasting at the same time each day. This helps regulate your circadian rhythm — a normal body process that follows a 24-hour cycle. This is what controls your sleeping and waking hours, metabolism, digestion, and many other bodily functions.
When you begin with an intermittent fasting plan, you alter your body’s circadian rhythm. You prompt it to adapt, essentially flipping an on and off switch during your eating and fasting phases.
You will disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm if you constantly change your fasting schedule, which reduces the overall effectiveness of your intermittent fast.
What Happens to Your Body When You Do Intermittent Fasting?
When you practice intermittent fasting, you train your body to eat only within a specified time and fast for the rest of the day. This schedule typically goes against modern norms wherein we eat most of the day. A typical day consists of 3 large meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner — peppered with smaller snacks every now and then.
Your body burns the calories you consume with each meal. Intermittent fasting lengthens the time when your body has burned the calories from your last meal, prompting it to start burning fat.
Fasting depletes your body’s sugar reserves, triggering metabolic switching, which effectively shifts the body’s energy source from sugar to fat.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting offers plenty of benefits to help improve your health and overall well-being. It is quickly becoming the go-to option for people who have tried (and failed) in many of the strict diet regimens that have invaded the weight loss scene.
Intermittent fasting is flexible, simple, and non-restricting. Here are some of the benefits you can enjoy with intermittent fasting:
Improves Metabolic Health and Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting can aid in improving how well your body processes food. Metabolic health is typically measured by blood sugar, blood pressure, and fat levels. A good metabolism allows you to absorb more vitamins and nutrients, burn fat, and shed excess pounds.
Helps Regulate Appetite
Intermittent fasting helps train your body to develop healthier eating patterns. If done correctly, you will acquire the discipline to eat only when necessary and avoid indulging in unhealthy snacks. It will also train your body to recognize and acknowledge feelings of fullness while suppressing feelings of hunger.
Improves Blood Sugar Levels
Intermittent fasting is great for people with type-2 diabetes. It can help reduce blood sugar levels and is also reliable in preventing the onset of diabetes since it can help lower insulin resistance.
If you are diabetic, it would be best to consult your doctor before diving straight into intermittent fasting. Have your vital signs checked and ensure that this fasting method is safe for you. Discuss your best options regarding the timing of your fast and your ideal food choices during the eating period.
Improves Heart Health
Consuming extra calories, which your body does not need, is associated with increased risks of developing heart conditions and obesity. Intermittent fasting can help reduce calorie intake, especially if you’re smart about your food choices during the eating phase. Intermittent fasting can also help stabilize and improve blood pressure.
Protects Against Chronic Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is a silent killer that promotes life-threatening diseases, including cancer, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Abdominal fat is one of the factors promoting this condition. Intermittent fasting can significantly help reduce the risk of chronic inflammation, especially with healthy eating habits and exercising regularly.
Promotes a Simpler Lifestyle
Intermittent fasting calls for lesser meals throughout the day. Depending on your choice of eating and fasting periods, you will usually skip a meal or 2 and would thus need to plan fewer meals.
This type of fasting is also convenient as it does not require you to count your calories or to stay away from certain types of food. The only requirement here is to eat healthy foods within a specific period and to fast for the rest of the day.
Reduced calorie intake has been linked to reduced risk for contracting various life-threatening diseases and increased longevity. Furthermore, intermittent fasting helps reduce belly fat and excess weight. These are factors associated with a shorter life span.
Intermittent fasting also triggers metabolic switching. Here, your body shifts its energy reserve from blood sugar stored in the liver to ketones stored in fat. Ketones are molecules that affect your cells and organs.
When you increase the number of ketones in your bloodstream — a process called ketogenesis — you enhance the body’s ability to defend itself against metabolic stress. Ketogenesis is also able to get rid of or repair cells that are already damaged.
How To Do Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting focuses on when you eat rather than on what you eat. The key is to devise a schedule that best suits your unique needs and lifestyle. Start by choosing a specific plan and try it out for a day or 2 in a week.
If all seems well, you may go ahead and do intermittent fasting more often, even daily. There are plenty of benefits to enjoy with such a simple alteration in eating habits.
Aside from the 16/8 method, here are other intermittent fasting plans you might want to consider:
5:2 Approach (Whole Day Fasting)
This intermittent fasting plan involves eating normally for 5 days and fasting for 2 non-consecutive days. The fasting phase requires a daily intake of only 500-600 calories. Meals within this category include simple meals such as a Green Club Sandwich or Spiced Lamb Wraps.
Every Other Day Fasting
As the name implies, this intermittent fasting plan involves alternating between days of eating normally and days of fasting. During your days of fasting, go for healthy food, including whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Aim to reduce your calorie intake by at least 25% of your daily calorie needs.
One Big Meal a Day (OMAD)
This strategy helps you lose weight by forcing your body to burn fat quicker and metabolize food more efficiently. You consume all the calories your body needs within a single meal (typically lasting for 1 hour at the most), then go into the fasting phase for the remaining 23 hours of your day.
Intermittent fasting is more about when you eat rather than what you eat. It is a practical and safe way to keep your weight in check and improve your health and wellness.
People choose intermittent fasting because it gives you the power to decide when you want to regulate your food intake without restricting your food options.
The key is to be smart with your food choices and avoid overeating all while exercising regularly.