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Intermittent Fasting: Its Effects on Weight Loss and General Health

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Intermittent Fasting: Its Effects on Weight Loss and General Health

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Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity as a means to better health and weight loss. Read on to learn more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. K. Shobana

Published At January 20, 2018
Reviewed AtSeptember 16, 2023

Overview:

People who practice intermittent fasting typically eat only at specific times throughout the day. There's evidence to suggest it could boost mental and cardiovascular health in addition to helping a person to trim down. In the realm of health and fitness, intermittent fasting (IF) is currently trending high. It assists people in streamlining their lives, getting healthier, and shedding extra pounds. It has been shown in numerous studies to have beneficial effects on the human body and brain and may even increase longevity.

People who practice intermittent fasting typically eat only at specific times throughout the day. Besides helping with weight loss, some studies have shown positive effects on cognitive function and cardiovascular health. One of the most talked about fitness and health trends right now is intermittent fasting (IF). People are adopting it as a means to slim down, get healthier, and streamline their daily routines. Scientific evidence suggests it may have beneficial effects on health and longevity, including on the body and the brain.

The History of Intermittent Fasting:

Intermittent fasting has existed in various forms for centuries. Still, it was popularized in 2012 by BBC broadcast journalist Dr. Michael Mosley's TV documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer and book The Fast Diet, followed by journalist Kate Harrison's book The 5:2 Diet based on her own experience, and finally by Dr. Jason Fung's 2016 bestseller The Obesity Code. As personal stories of its effectiveness proliferated, IF generated a steady positive buzz all over the world.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Alternating bouts of eating and fasting is what is known as "intermittent fasting." It does not tell us what to eat, but only when to eat. Intermittent fasting can be done in various ways, such as by skipping food entirely or only eating at particular times of the day. Many potential advantages have been linked to intermittent fasting, including better heart health, reduced inflammation, and enhanced memory.

What Are the Types of Intermittent Fasting?

There are different ways in which intermittent fastings are followed, such as,

  • Time-restricted eating, which means choosing certain times to eat and fast.

  • The twice-a-week method, in which a person eats a certain number of calories on two days of the week that are not consecutive.

  • Fasting every other day is called "alternate-day fasting."

  • 5:2 fasting involves eating a regular diet five days a week and fasting or limiting calories to 500 to 600 on two days that are not consecutive.

  • Daily time-restricted fasting, in which a person eats normally but only during a certain window of time every day.

  • 24-hour fasting means going without food for 24 hours once or twice a week.

  • The Warrior Diet, in which a person eats a big meal at night and does not eat anything else during the day.

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating in which individuals do not eat for a set amount of time, usually between 12 and 24 hours. During this time, the body uses up the calories from the last meal and starts to burn fat. Intermittent fasting has been linked to a number of health benefits, such as weight loss, better mental health, better fat burning, more growth hormone production, lower blood pressure, and less inflammation. But it is still important to remember that intermittent fasting can be done in different ways, and it may only be suitable for some.

What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting has a lot of benefits, and some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include the following:

  • Aiding in calorie restriction and consequent weight loss.

  • The danger of developing type 2 diabetes is mitigated, and insulin resistance is improved.

  • Improving inflammatory-related diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer's, arthritis, asthma, MS, and stroke by decreasing inflammation.

  • Increasing autophagy aids the body in healing itself.

  • Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and neurological disorders are just some of the health issues that can be helped.

  • It makes perfect sense and is an effective method for losing weight.

It is recommended to take nutrient-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats are some of the foods that are recommended for intermittent fasting. Beans and legumes are also excellent choices for meal planning. It is important to consume minimally processed foods, lean protein, vegetables, fruits, smart carbs, and healthy fats during the eating window. It is also vital to choose low-calorie carbs like beans and lentils to keep the body perked up during fasting.

How Safe Is Intermittent Fasting?

People in good health are usually safe to try intermittent fasting, but it may not be suitable for everyone. Some research suggests it may have health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and improving heart health. But it is important to keep in mind that there are different ways to do intermittent fasting, and some might be better for some people than others. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, children, and people with certain health conditions should not try intermittent fasting. Before starting intermittent fasting, it is best to talk to a health professional before making any change to their diet.

What Foods Should Be Avoided During Intermittent Fasting?

Avoiding foods that break the fast during intermittent fastings, such as those high in carbs and sugar, is important. It is also recommended to avoid refined carbohydrates, refined oils, and too little intake of protein. There are no specific restrictions on what type or how much food to eat while following intermittent fasting, but it is important to choose nutrient-dense foods. It is indeed important to eat only a little during feasting occasions.

Conclusion:

Intermittent fasting has recently gained popularity due to its potential health benefits. Research has shown that it can lead to weight loss, improved metabolic health, and even longevity. However, intermittent fasting should be approached safely and healthily, and a healthcare professional should be consulted before beginning any new diet or eating pattern. While intermittent fastings may have downsides, such as hunger and fatigue, many people find it a simple and effective way to improve their overall health and well-being. In the end, anyone considering trying intermittent fasting should do so cautiously and carefully, taking into account their own needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

- Increase in:
 - Growth hormone release.
 - Metabolic rate, thus an increase in fat burning and weight loss.
 - Testosterone hormone, which is responsible for fat burning and gaining lean muscle mass.
 - Cell turnover and renewal.
 - Neurotrophic factors and antioxidants.
- Decrease in:
 - Blood pressure (through lowering blood sugar and fats).
 - Insulin resistance (helps type-2 diabetes patients).
 - Inflammatory markers and cancer cell growth.
 -Memory loss and brain function deterioration (decreasing blood sugar and cortisol levels contributed vastly to brain function decline).

2.

How to Perform Intermittent Fasting?

There are many techniques to do intermittent fasting, but fasting for 16 or 24 hours straight without taking a single calorie is the most popular. The 16-hour intermittent fasting affects by restricting the input of foods and calorie-containing drinks to a window of 8 hours every day. Then, one must refrain from food for the rest 16 hours, though being permitted to consume water and other no-calorie liquids, such as plain coffee and tea.

3.

Are There Any Disadvantages of Intermittent Fasting?

 - Hunger.
 - Cravings.
 - Headache.
 - Lightheadedness.
 - Digestive problems.
 - Irritation.
 - Mood swings.
 - Fatigue.
 - Low energy.
 - Bad breath.
 - Dehydration.
 - Sleep disturbances.

4.

What Foods Can Be Eaten After Intermittent Fasting?

 - Water.
 - Avocado.
 - Seafood.
 - Fatty fish.
 - Potatoes.
 - Vegetables.
 - Beans.
 - Legumes.
 - Berries. 
 - Eggs.
 - Meats.
 - Probiotics.

5.

Can We Do Intermittent Fasting Daily?

Yes, there are many routes to begin intermittent fasting. An individual can opt for any route after keeping their health and daily schedule in mind. However, it is suggested to consult an experienced nutritionist in order to go ahead with a daily routine of intermittent fasting for better, consistent, and healthy outcomes.

6.

For Whom Is Intermittent Fasting Not Advised?

 - Individuals who are pregnant.
 - Breastfeeding females.
 - Young children.
 - Teenagers.
 - Older people.
 - People who experience weakness episodes.
 - Individuals suffering from immunodeficiencies.
 - Individuals with current eating disorders.
 - Patients of eating disorders of the past.
 - People diagnosed with memory loss.
 - People with a history of traumatic injury.
 - Brain trauma. 
 - People with post-concussive syndrome.

7.

What Happens After a Week of Intermittent Fasting?

 - Feeling of hollowness.
 - Depression.
 - Grumbling sensations in the stomach.
 - Difficulty in sleeping.
 - Inch loss.
 - Dehydration. 
 - Hunger pangs. 
 - Nausea.

8.

Can Fruits Be Eaten During Intermittent Fasting?

Yes, fruits and vegetables are excellent options after intermittent fasting. Fresh fruits and acidic fruits can be eaten, but they must not be high in sugar content. Fruits should be high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Thus an individual must choose their fruits accordingly during intermittent fasting.

9.

What Time Is Best to Intermittent Fast?

Mentioned below are the best time frames to begin intermittent fasting.
 - 7 AM.
 - 3 PM.
 - 10 AM.
 - 6 PM.
 - 8 AM. 

10.

What to Drink While Intermittent Fasting?

 - Tea.
 - Milk.
 - Unsweetened water.
 - Water.
 - Black coffee.
 - Apple cider vinegar.
 - Carbonated water.
 - Unsweetened tea.
 - Zero-calorie beverage.
Dr. Majd Hasan Mohammed Obeidat
Dr. Majd Hasan Mohammed Obeidat

Family Physician

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