Over the last couple of years, interest in intermittent fasting (IF) has increased dramatically. Coverage in the mainstream media as well as by models and other fitness experts has propelled the diet’s popularity.
We are here to dispel some of the myths surrounding the diet, such as missing a meal will not put you into starvation mode, whilst focusing on the science of why and how it works.
Remember, before drastically changing your diet, please consult a medical professional for advice. Children, pregnant or nursing women or the sick should not carry out IF.
Table of contents
- 1 What is intermittent fasting?
- 2 What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
- 3 How does intermittent fasting work?
- 4 What is the best intermittent fasting plan?
- 5 Tips on starting to fast
- 6 What to eat: Intermittent fasting meal plans
What is intermittent fasting?
As you’ll come to learn, there are different programmes or plans of intermittent fasting, but they all share one feature. It involves calorie restriction through the use of periods of eating and periods of fasting.
A duration of time in which you eat
A duration of time in which you don’t eat
These periods of fasting usually last for a portion of the day, a full day, but in some cases may even last for multiple days. The most popular duration for a fast is 16 hours. Reading this now, you probably can’t imagine not eating for that long, but once you have done it you’ll find that it is a lot easier than you think.
Most people that follow this diet do it to lose weight or to improve their health and their are many studies to support their claims. We will look at these in more detail later.
Is this not bad for you?
Humans evolved from hunter gatherers that would not always have easily available food, so our bodies are well adapted to fasting.
The main reason that humans find it so easy to put on fat is because we evolved the need for it – storing fat for when food reserves are low.
… but isn’t ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’
This phrase was actually coined in an advertising campaign by a breakfast cereal brand. Of course they wanted you to believe that.
Dr. Michael Mosley’s ‘The Fast Diet’
Certainly here in the UK, the diet rocketed in popularity after Dr. Michael Mosley (TV presenter) covered the diet on the TV programme Horizon.
Alongside the programme, he released a best-selling book called ‘The Fast Diet’, which gives further details on the 5:2 fasting plan. This is essentially where you eat normally for 5 days of the week but restrict calories for the other 2 days of the week.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
How does intermittent fasting work?
What is the science behind it.
What is the best intermittent fasting plan?
There are many different types, and they all come with different benefits
14 hour fast
16 hour fast
This is the 16/8 diet where you don’t eat for 16 hours of the day
24 hour fast
This is when you don’t eat for 24 hours
Best for men
Best for women
Best when working out
Tips on starting to fast
Starting your first fast can be daunting, but here are a few tips to help you:
Start off slow
Walk before you run. Rather than skip a meal completely, you could try pushing it back by increasingly significant amounts of time. For example, eat breakfast later and later in the day.
Listen to your body’s needs
The first time you start a fast, you may find yourself extremely hungry extremely quickly, like the feeling you get if you miss lunch. However, you will find that as you progress you will learn to listen to your body more closely and will gain a deeper understanding of it.
Use this as an opportunity to focus on the contents of your diet as well as when you are eating. Make sure you eat nutrient rich food, with a particular focus on fruits an vegetables.
Drink more water
Make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day. It is often the case that thirst can manifest itself as thirst,.
Black Tea or Coffee
Tea and coffee contain caffeine which can be an appetite suppressant and can give you that extra boost whilst fasting.
Make sure that you have a consistent sleep time and wake time so that you get the sleep that you need.
What to eat: Intermittent fasting meal plans