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The 7 Types Of Intermittent Fasting And Their Benefits

Intermittent fasting is becoming a trending approach to both diet and lifestyle. Extensive research has shown that adapting your body to planned periods without food matched with specific windows of eating can positively impact your overall health.

Our bodies are designed to need intervals of time to digest everything we consume; modern-day three-standard meals alongside regular snacking don’t leave much room for the thorough absorption of nutrients or the breakdown of dysfunctional proteins. Intermittent fasting allows this renewal process to occur by inducing crucial cellular repair and removing any waste material we don’t need. Our insulin levels drop significantly during this time, facilitating natural fat-burning and boosting our metabolic rates.

There are many different ways to try intermittent fasting, which is the great thing about it; you can find the formula that suits your routine and needs, which will, in turn, increase your chance of healthy success. Like anything, one size doesn't fit all, so listen to your body and ensure you make the right choices for yourself when embarking on a change in diet.

One of the more well-known forms of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 technique. It is simple yet effective and doesn't require a drastic change in routine which is why so many follow this particular format. The 5:2 method involves five days of regular eating paired with two days in a calorie deficit, restricting your intake to around five hundred to six hundred calories each day. These days can be whenever you like; there is no specific blueprint to follow, and it can change week to week, so it is adaptable to any changes in your schedule because no one wants to miss out on that last-minute dinner invite! This form of intermittent fasting can enhance the production of human growth hormones; these work to speed up the process of fat burning and give you more energy without causing muscle loss which can be a common side effect of a calorie deficit diet. Many athletes like to follow this particular diet for this exact reason.

Time-Restricted Fasting is another popular way to implement managed limitations into your daily eating habits. Choosing a window in each day when you can eat and another to abstain completely (recommended fourteen to sixteen hours) allows your body the time it needs to regenerate. During the fasting period, your body goes through the process of autophagy, which is the body’s way of effectively cleaning out any debris that may threaten the health of areas like your mitochondria and liver function. A regular eating time would be from nine to five during the working day, so you must be organised with meals and dedicated to having an early dinner. The good part is you don’t technically have to skip any meals; the majority of your fasting period is whilst you are asleep; just try only to have water or, at most, a black coffee before you break your fast in the morning. Another variation, called Overnight Fasting, is a slightly shorter period of twelve hours; this is based on the minimum time to fast for any long-term results to show. Anything less isn’t enough time for your body to fight against free radicals or efficiently reset for the coming day.

In contrast, Whole-Day Fasting is an approach that requires a little more discipline, where you eat just once a day. The idea is to make it a whole twenty-four hours between each meal, i.e. lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner. This is an effective type of fasting if weight loss is your primary goal, but planning is undoubtedly involved to ensure you get adequate calories and nutrients in one meal. Healthy fats are fundamental, like avocado, nuts and oily fish, as well as leafy greens and complex carbohydrates, to keep you going and prevent a hunger slump or sugar cravings later on.

Alternate-Day Fasting is not dissimilar to the 5:2 method but translates closer to a 3:4 approach to the week in which your ‘off’ days consist of a regular, balanced diet, and the ‘on’ days are a set of small meals that makes up twenty-five per cent of your regular calorie intake. Studies by the University of Illinois have demonstrated that this is great at combatting issues like high cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index. This more regular implementation of fasting is meant to help do a more profound reset of your body’s essential systems. You will likely become accustomed to managing hunger and understanding what your body needs to feel its best. Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting, like the Alternate-Day, can help accelerate the growth of nerve cells, positively impacting brain functions, including issues with memory and depression.

Eat-Stop-Eat is one of the more recent fasting practices that emphasise the need for flexibility in your diet. The looser guidelines for this mean paying close attention to your cravings and noticing when your energy spikes and drops to evaluate the best time frames to refrain from eating and when to get some needed sustenance. Developed by nutritionist Brad Pilon, he describes it as simply taking a break from food from time to time by completing one or two twenty-four-hour fasts each week in conjunction with regular, resistance-based exercise. When not fasting, the aim is to remain responsible with what you consume, with no major restrictions but, on the other hand, no binging on high-calorie foods either, as this counteracts the hard work of the days off. The Eat-Stop-Eat method encourages you to fuel your body with nutrient-dense meals, snacks and smoothies to boost energy production and remove the concept of being on a super strict diet.

Lastly, Choose Your Day Fasting is excellent if you are trying fasting for the first time. This more general strategy is to help you find the type of fasting that suits you from the examples above and put it into practice for a minimum of one day a week. It is a more go-with-the-flow approach and a perfect starting point when making new dietary changes.

Remember, your body, your rules and all our beautiful differences mean results and success rates will vary from person to person, so it is important to do what feels right for you.

Remember, your body, your rules and all our beautiful differences mean results and success rates will vary from person to person, so it is important to do what feels right for you.