Is Intermittent Fasting Good For You?

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Is Intermittent Fasting Good For You?

Currently we are in the last days of Ramadan, a month long Islamic event which focuses on fasting and spirituality. Last year I wrote about the health benefits of fasting, this month we will explore the popular trend of intermittent fasting. 

I recently stumbled across a video of Tyler Crews and his intermittent fasting routine, which I found quite intriguing:

This video had me thinking: if Tyler Crews can skip his breakfast meal and still maintain muscle mass like the incredible hulk, what does that say about the old notion to ‘never skip a meal’ and that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’?

Side note: on the topic of breakfast you might find this video interesting:

Fasting is abstaining from food and drink for a period of time. There are four types of fasts:

  1. Time restricted intermittent fasting (only eating certain hours of the day)
  2. Alternate day fasting ( not eating for 24 hours)
  3. Multiple day fasting ( not eating for several days, followed by unrestricted eating)
  4. Religious fasting such as Ramadan.

Most people who follow intermittent fasting will generally abstain from food past a certain time in the evening, the last meal being anywhere between 6pm and 9pm. The next meal would then be consumed the following day around pm1-3pm. The duration of these fasts can last anywhere between 15 to 20 hours a day!

Are there any health benefits to intermittent fasting? Studies have been conducted in both humans and animals, with the  findings showing some promising results:

  • Intermittent fasting has been shown to help with weight loss. Fasting helps the bodily hormones respond differently to hunger and fullness which can help cut down calorie intake.
  • Intermittent fasting may help increase good cholesterol in the body (HDL) and help lower bad cholesterol (LDL). This can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Intermittent fasting can help with inflammatory markers, meaning there appears to be evidence of decrease inflammation in the body when one is fasting. (1)
  • Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help prevent diabetes.
  • Intermittent fasting can help improve concentration and improved memory.

Interested in giving Intermittent fasting a try? Here are four tips to help you get started (3):

  1. Avoid sugars and refined grains. These can spike blood sugar levels, and cause food cravings shortly afterwards. Try eating low-glycemic foods; such as beans, lentils, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats.
  2. Help your body burn fast throughout the day by avoiding snacks. Try working out or keep active to help burn off excess fat. Personally I try to workout before by afternoon meal to help burn as many calories as possible.
  3. Try a shorter fasting time-frame to help you get started. You could start between 7am to noon or from noon to six pm, and gradually increase the time by fifteen minute increments each week.
  4. Avoid snacking and eating at nighttime, these empty-calories will reverse any progress made.

Before you start intermittent fasting it is important that you speak to a qualified health practitioner to determine if it safe for you. Some health conditions such as diabetes and low blood pressure may not be suitable for intermittent fasting.

To learn more about intermittent fasting, and a beginners guide, check out this article here. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3695639/
  2. https://www.canadianliving.com/health/prevention-and-recovery/article/is-intermittent-fasting-actually-good-for-you
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156
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