How To Do Intermittent Fasting? Its Effects on Body & Brain
Studies suggest that an average person tries 126 fad diets in their lifetime. Surprising, isn’t it?
People are keen to try new diets like the liquid diet and keto diet. This idea does seem good but it can get overwhelming at times.
Intermittent fasting is a diet where you willingly don’t consume food for few hours to let your body recover healthily.
It’s common to get caught in the “how” and “what” of intermittent fasting diet plans. On that note, let’s explore the most common question, how to do intermittent fasting and its effect on your brain and body.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating cycle that focuses on fasting for a certain period and then completing your meals within a given period.
We all have tried diets that focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting focuses more on when to eat. Intermittent fasting does provide health benefits and helps in reducing body fat. Well, there are various ways to do intermittent fastings.
The intermittent fasting rules are simple. You need to choose an eating window, it can be 16/8 hours a day, and try to complete all your meals within this given window. This means you will fast for 16 hours and eat within 8 hours of windows.
You can skip your breakfast and have your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 p.m. We know that our body fast while we sleep and Intermittent fasting just extends the period of fasting.
Here are some of the most popular approaches for intermittent fasting meal plans:
- Alternate-day fasting: You can eat a normal diet on the first day. The next day you can have a small meal (less than 500 calories).
- Time-restricted Fasting: For this approach, skip breakfast and eat lunch around noon and dinner by 8 p.m.
- 5:2 Fasting: This type of fasting includes eating a normal diet five days a week followed by two days fast in a week.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Influence Your Body and Brain?
Intermittent fasting is not a new concept, it’s been there for ages. There are so many studies that state it helps with aging, hypertension, and inflammation.
From stabilizing your blood sugar level to reducing inflammation, IF impacts your cognitive brain and body in the following ways.
- It helps you to enter ketosis mode and burn fat. Ketosis is the process where your brain uses energy from the fat stored in your body. This metabolic switch triggers the release of a molecule BDNF that helps your brain to strengthen neural connections.
- During fasting periods, your brain receives energy from glucose. This enhances your brain resistance to injuries and is a way to improve neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity builds new neurons and links them to enhance your cognitive function.
- IF has also been linked to decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and depressions. Short-term fasting causes a considerable increase in neuronal autophagy, which is the body’s way of removing damaged cells and regenerating healthier ones.
What Happens to Your Body When You Fast?
Fasting is a way to give your body a break. Here’s how intermittent fasting works for weight loss.
Stage 1: In between 0 to 4 hours, your blood sugar remains high. Your body is using up the energy in this phase.
Stage 2: 4 to 16 hours, your body now starts releasing fats and uses them to release ketone bodies and chemicals.
Stage 3: 16 to 24 hours, after an overnight fast, you are almost low on glycogen level. Your energy demands at this stage haven’t changed much but now the chemicals start to break into AMP-activated protein. They help in cell growth and regulating energy response to your starvation period.
Stage 4: 24 to 72 hours, now your body will start breaking down your muscles to utilize protein for energy. This means it enters the state of ketosis which acts as fuel for your brain and body.
How to Do Intermittent Fasting Safely?
There is no right or wrong way to do intermittent fasting. For example, there are few drinks and food you can consume for your hunger cramps.
That being said, there are few points you should take care of during Intermittent fasting:
- Spontaneous meal skipping is the best way to enjoy the freedom to eat. It is based on intuitive eating.
- Avoid fasting for over 24 hours since it can result in dehydration headaches and low energy.
- Healthy and nutritious meals are important. Watch the amount of food you eat during the eating periods and avoid binge eating.
- Hydration is the key.
- Do not pressure yourself when fasting, especially in workouts.
- Follow eat stop eat routine. This way your body can get used to the fasting period. Choose two non-consecutive days, for example, Monday and Wednesday, and eat normally for the next five days.
Read More: What is a Monk Fast?
Intermittent fasting is indeed a great way to push your body limits. Also with so many health benefits, it’s a process that does give results if done properly.
In the end, don’t get swayed away with every new intermittent fasting trend on social media. Choose the best method that suits your body’s needs and eating patterns.