Have you heard about the term: ‘intermittent fasting’? In Malaysia, one thing that comes to mind immediately when the word ‘fasting’ is used, is that it is only applicable to Muslims. That’s because they are required to fast due to religious reasons in the month of Ramadan. To make things clear, fasting may be done for both religious and non-religious reasons. However, we will tackle non-religious fasting in this article.
First off, let us discuss the need to fast. Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It has gained popularity in the health and fitness community as of late. In fact, intermittent fasting is known to improve weight loss as it is believed to slightly boost metabolism while helping you eat fewer calories. Intermittent fasting may also reduce your risk of type-2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Types of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There are a few types of intermittent fasting.
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According to this site, these are the most popular methods:
The 16/8 method:
The name of this method refers to the fasting technique: fast for 16 hours and restrict your eating time to the rest of the day (8 hours). It is recommended to skip breakfast and restrict your daily eating period to the following 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. or anytime that you are the most active. Then you fast for 16 hours in between.
By prioritising your eating window to your most active hours, it can help you to stay productive. You won’t want to feel tired and hungry while at school or work after all.
This method is a more extreme version of the 16/8 method. Rather than restricting your food intake for 8 hours every day, this method involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
For example, you choose to fast on Monday and Friday. On these 2 days, you are fasting for the entire Monday and only eat on Tuesday. Then you eat as usual until Friday, when you choose to fast for the entire day again.
Once you have gotten the hang of fasting for two days, you might want to change up your fasting schedule and fast for 2 consecutive days instead, or however that is manageable to you.
The 5:2 diet:
The 5:2 diet is another popular intermittent fasting method by Michael Mosley. With this method, you choose two nonconsecutive days of the week to consume a low-calorie diet (around 25–30% of your total daily calorie intake). That means 500 calories for women and 600 for men. You then are required to eat normally the other 5 days of the week. The 5:2 diet is much easier on your body as it helps you to get the best of both worlds. It allows you to keep your energy levels up and lose weight. However, this requires a lot of planning as you will need to eat a very small amount on two days per week.
You should try out all these different types of intermittent fasting methods and see which method works best for you. Try them out for at least 2 weeks and jot down your thoughts. Does it make you feel too hungry, too tired, unable to concentrate, or is there a fasting method that helps you to concentrate, or if you feel surprisingly energetic at the end of your trial period?
Find out what works for you and then stick with it. Remember to keep up the spirit and keep a positive attitude throughout your fasting period. By reducing your calorie intake, all of these methods should cause weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods.edule and fast for 2 consecutive days instead, or however that is manageable to you.
Dos and Don’ts of Intermittent Fasting
There are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind when starting intermittent fasting. Here are a few key points:
• DO make sure that the food that you are eating during your eating period is food that is high in fibre. That’s because high fibre foods will be able to reduce any potential problems such as constipation or diarrhoea. I’m sure you’re going to be very hungry while you are fasting. Having bowel problems will expend too much of your energy. Focus on saving energy so that you are able to get through your day as usual.
• DON’T overdo it with the caffeine and sugary drinks. Be selective with your food consumption. Avoid sugary food and drinks such as soft drinks, ice cream, and chocolate.
You might want to try out TYT’s Cold-Pressed Ginger drink to aid with your digestion as well. It has some brown sugar for some slight sweetness. Ginger drink can help to boost the immune system and lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels too!
Do make sure to keep yourself hydrated. Just because you are fasting intermittently does not mean that you are not allowed to drink water. Stick to hydrating drinks like water, herbal tea, and fresh juice. Taking too much sugar and caffeine will be detrimental for you, because of the sugar or caffeine crash that you will experience. You will feel sluggish and tired after spending all that energy as the sugar or caffeine wears off.
• DO break your fast with light meals such as soup. Consider taking slow energy release food and drinks so that you will not feel overly tired during the day. This includes: oatmeal, spinach, starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes etc., eggs, nuts, fruits and so on. You may also wish to take a multivitamin supplement to make sure that you are getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals.
• DON’T gorge yourself at dinner. Eat slowly. You should balance your meals with plenty of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates. Watch your food intake, and make sure not to take too much oily food which is not easily digestible.
• DO continue to exercise regularly during your intermittent fasting periods. Try to do exercises a few hours after having your food rather than when you have expended almost all your energy during fasting, just to be safe. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workouts.
Intermittent Fasting is Not for Everyone
Intermittent fasting is a great way to lose weight and improve your health. However, it is not for everyone.
Women should be particularly careful when trying out intermittent fasting, as it may cause missed periods. Stop fasting if this occurs. Avoid intermittent fasting if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, as it may reduce transfer of nutrients to your child.
If you have certain ailments such as kidney stones, gastroesophageal reflux, diabetes or other medical problems, it is best to avoid intermittent fasting. You should consult your doctor first before attempting.
Make preparations, such as buying groceries for you to cook at home and avoid buying unhealthy junk foods. This can help you eat healthier and avoid the temptation of sweets and desserts. Out of all the popular intermittent fasting methods, the 16/8 method is the most sustainable option. We recommend you to try out intermittent fasting with the 16/8 method first as it is not as hard on the body compared to the rest.