Monday, June 27, 2022 | Dhu al-Qaadah 27, 1443 H
overcast clouds
33°C / 33°C

The basic rules of intermittent fasting

Staying hydrated during the fasting hours is essential

No doubt healthy eating transforms your lifestyle but when to eat your food is equally noteworthy. And here is why Intermittent Fasting (IF) has gained much popularity these days.

The term IF refers to not just fasting but regulating your meal timings when it comes to weight management and staying healthy.

Fasting is the phase when you are not giving your body to eat so that it can tap on its fat reserves and start burning it. The major objective of IF is to eliminate snacking which is an undercover issue and is the chief reason for faulty eating habits. When it comes to the health benefits of IF there are many worth practicing.

A detailed review of the science of Intermittent Fasting published in the New England Journal of Medicine mentions; “Flipping the switch from a fed to fasting state does more than help us burn calories and lose weight.

Researchers combed through dozens of animal and human studies to explain how simple fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar levels; lessens inflammation, which improves a range of health issues from arthritic pain to asthma; and even helps clear out toxins and damaged cells, which lowers risk for cancer and enhances brain function.”

What are the most common modes of intermittent fasting in practice?

There are various ways to do IF, the most common and easier to practice is the ‘12:12 method’ where you sleep for most of the time. Let’s say you have dinner by 7:30 pm and you will have breakfast by 7:30 am the next morning.

In between, you won’t be eating anything other than drinking water. Then we have the ‘16:8 method’, where you fast for 16 hours and have an 8-hour eating window.

Next is the ‘5:2 approach’, when you go on your regular healthy meals for 5 days and fast for 2 days a week. Here fasting is done on alternate days and not consecutively. We also have ‘meal skipping’ as one of the IF methods where you skip a meal when not hungry.

For some, meal skipping is more natural and convenient to practice. There are other IF modes too but they are rather extreme forms and not recommended. Moreover, they lack scientific evidence backing their efficacy.

What is worthwhile to note here is that fasting doesn’t mean starving. It is all about giving certain periods of non-eating to your body. Even if you are not snacking between meals, it is also considered fasting.

The goal is to give your body nutritious food at properly spaced intervals. Moreover, staying hydrated during the fasting hours is essential. Many times, you are just thirsty and it is perceived as hungry. The brain deciphers both as same. So, have a glassful or two of water, wait for some time, and see for yourself whether you are really hungry or it was your body’s call to drink water.

What to eat when doing IF?

Eat anything healthy and wholesome. IF is certainly not that you fast and during the eating window, you can binge on energy-dense foods (high-calorie foods). Indulging in nutrient-rich foodstuffs such as fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, legumes and nuts is the ultimate goal of IF.

If you are starting for the first time, it is advisable to begin under the provision of a healthcare professional. IF is not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women, diabetics, or people with eating disorders. For the rest, let the goodness of IF happen and your health takes a new and better stride.

The writer is a general physician, content creator, and wellness adviser

arrow up
home icon