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Intermittent Fasting – The Beginners Guide

Fasting is done for spiritual reasons by people following Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc. On the topic of fasting there are many of us that have either tried intermittent fasting or know somebody who has given it a go. Intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular health and fitness trends. Everybody wants to either lose weight, or simply improve their health and lifestyles!

Muslims all around the world right now are partaking in Ramadan. We want to start of by wishing all of our Muslim followers Ramadan Kareem from the Vitz team! Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayer and reflection

 This weeks blog will explain all the basics of intermittent fasting including the different types and the potential benefits.

Intermittent fasting is essentially an eating schedule which goes through cycles of fasting and eating. Intermittent fasting is not about specifying what foods are going into our bodies, but focusses on when. It is an eating pattern!

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Here are few different types of intermittent fasting :

  • 5:2 Diet – With the 5:2 method, we consume 500-600 calories on two non consecutive days of the week and then eat normally on the other 5 days.
  • 16/8 Method – This is the most popular method at the moment. Here we essentially skip breakfast and restrict eating to an 8 hour window for example 14:00 – 22:00 and then fasting for the rest of the 16 hours.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat – This method involves fasting for 24 hours twice a week. So this would mean not eating from dinner one day all the way until dinner the next day.
  • Alternate Day Fasting – This method is what it says on the tin. Fasting for 24 hours every other day.
  • The Warrior Diet – This involves eating a smaller portion of raw fruit and veg during the day and then one substantial meal for the evening.

All these methods have something in common : less calories coming into our bodies. By reducing our calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss… as long as we don’t go overboard in our eating windows!

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As well as weight loss, there are a few other health benefits to intermittent fasting also :

  • Weight Loss – As already mentioned, intermittent fasting can help us lose weight and belly fat!
  • Heart Health – Intermittent fasting, may reduce a few of the risk factors for heart disease such as inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance.
  • Brain Health – Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF as well as potentially aiding the growth of new nerve cells.
  • Fights Inflammation – Studies have shown that fasting can decrease levels of inflammation and help promote better health.
  • Healthier Lifestyle – Intermittent fasting is more efficient as there is less meal prep that needs to be done as you do not need to plan, cook or clean up as many meals as before. This makes it easier to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Of course it is also important to state intermittent fasting is not for everyone. If you are underweight or have a history of eating disorders we would strongly advise against fasting as it could be harmful.

If you suffer from diabetes or low blood sugar, fasting can lead to spikes and crashes in your blood sugar levels, which could be dangerous.

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There are  small changes we can make to our lifestyle if we do not want to carry out intermittent fasting but take some lessons from it :

  • Let your body burn fat in-between meals. Do this by not snacking and being active throughout the day.
  • Avoid sugars. Instead we can eat fruits, veg, beans, lean proteins, healthy fats, etc. There are so many healthy delicious foods we can consume. Lets save the sugary treats for our cheat meals!
  • Avoid eating at night time.

Intermittent fasting can be great for various different health benefits with its various different methods. The important take away is to do what works for you.

If you decide to go with a fasting method, it is key to stay well hydrated, and to ensure food is nutritious and balanced.

Please do speak to a healthcare professional or your GP before starting a new dietary regime.