Some people firmly believe in certain eating patterns because they feel they support optimal health while controlling their appetite and weight. When you hear about fasting and weight management, the first thing that comes to your mind is intermittent fasting. After all, it is one of the most popular and beloved health fads of the past few years. Intermittent fasting requires frequent switching between eating and fasting windows. There are different ways to do this, and many of them require you not to eat for 12 to 40 hours. However, intermittent fasting is not the only form of fasting that people follow on their weight loss journey.
Various forms of fasting are gaining popularity due to their weight loss benefits. But how safe are they? Does it really lead to sustainable weight loss? Does it negatively affect your health? This article answers these and many other questions about fasting and weight loss.
Different forms of fasting play a beneficial role in weight management and metabolic health. It may help reduce blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels in some people. This is primarily due to specific eating regimens. At the same time, fasting benefits some people who incorporate it into a long-term balanced diet plan. However, fasting can cause adverse effects such as irregular hunger, headache and fatigue.
Your blood sugar levels drop when you don’t eat for a long time. Low blood sugar levels combined with the stress of adjusting to a new schedule may affect your mood and mental health. Therefore, not everyone may cope well with fasting. Moreover, the harmful effects of fasting are not limited to your mental health. It also leads to physical health problems. Let’s find out in detail. But before we do that, let’s understand the different types of fasting.
Types of fasting diet
The type of fasting depends on how long you do not eat any food. For many individuals, it may have diverse effects. Thus, it is essential to understand the different types of fasting diet and choose the one (if any) that is best suited to your body. However, choosing a balanced diet is always preferable to get the best weight loss results.
The different types of fasting diets are as follows:
Fasting diet twice a week
This method of fasting emphasizes limiting your daily calorie intake to 500 on two days each week. You should stick to a healthy diet for the other five days of the week.
When fasting, it is essential to focus on foods rich in fiber and protein to help you feel full and keep calories low. It is necessary to eat more fruits and natural foods. At the same time, any canned food should be avoided. This fasting system allows you to choose which days to fast. It provides room for flexibility depending on your schedule. According to the proponents of this fasting diet, it is an excellent approach to a healthy lifestyle as you get the right nutrients needed for your body, which may help you lose weight.
This fasting regime restricts the time you can eat. Generally in the 16/8 or 14/10 cycle. On the 16/8 schedule, you can only eat from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (that’s 8 hours), and the 14/10 diet suggests eating from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (that’s 10 hours).
The time-restricted fasting system practically suggests that you should avoid eating after sunset. A widely known practice in some religions is to restrict eating immediately before bed. Eating right before bed is one of the important reasons for weight gain. According to a study, restricting and avoiding meals before bed will help you lose weight and improve your health and body composition. However, the time-restricted diet is not supported by any significant scientific research as an essential and sustainable weight loss diet.
alternate day fasting
This fasting regime requires following a cycle where you have to control your diet every alternate day. In addition, it requires consuming only 25% of normal calories. Although advocates of the diet believe it is an excellent way to maintain your health and gain weight loss benefits, its sustainability and health effects require extensive research.
It’s a challenging diet, where you only get a 4-hour window to eat. You are not allowed to eat anything for the next twenty hours. Your body only gets what you eat during the four-hour period. It is essential that you understand that you cannot eat anything you like at that time because it will affect your body. You should focus on eating high in fiber and protein and low in calories.
Since the diet requires fasting for 20 hours a day, health experts question its sustainability and long-term benefits.
Fasting 24 hours
Here, one can maintain the fast on a specific day for a full 24 hours. Usually people fast on religious occasions. This fasting has its challenges and limitations besides benefits. It may be beneficial on your weight loss journey, but it can also lead to nutritional deficiencies or low energy. Therefore, it is best to consult a dietitian to choose the right diet for your body.
There are many fasting regimes, such as the twice-weekly fasting method, time-restricted fasting, alternate-day fasting, warrior diet, and 24-hour fasting. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no recommended diet for everyone. It ultimately depends on your body. Furthermore, although many people believe that these junk food may aid in weight loss, their sustainability and long-term effects are of concern. Hence, it is best to consult a dietitian for a balanced and customized nutritional plan.
Healthy fasting tips
It is necessary to understand that each diet has its pros and cons. Therefore, following the diet properly is essential to get the right benefits with the least negligible side effects.
The following pointers can help you maintain your goals and maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Stay hydrated: Consume plenty of water and zero-calorie beverages such as herbal tea throughout the day.
- Avoid obsessing over food: On the days when you don’t eat, schedule plenty of activities such as keeping up with work or going to the movies to take your mind off food. Thinking about food will make it difficult for you to stick to the diet.
- Relax in your fasting days: On the days when you fast, stay away from challenging activities. However, light exercises such as yoga may be helpful.
- Count your calories: Choosing nutrient-dense foods rich in protein, fiber, and beneficial fats is vital if the plan allows for some calories during times of fasting. Beans, lentils, eggs, salmon, almonds, and avocados are a few examples of nutrient-rich foods that you can add to your diet.
- Boost Flavor Without Adding Calories: Use plenty of garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar to season food. These dishes have a lot of flavor and few calories, which helps people feel less hungry.
- go slow: It ultimately depends on your body and what it can take. Therefore, it is advisable to slow down the fasting process and start small.
- Choose the right food: Choose foods that are saturated but low in calories, such as popcorn, raw vegetables, and fruits that contain a lot of water, such as watermelon and grapes. In addition, you can eat avocado, fish, green vegetables, potatoes, beans, legumes, berries, eggs, nuts, and whole grains. These food products provide the right nutrients with minimal calories or fat.
- Consult a nutritionist: No matter how certain you are about the type of food you should eat, it is best to understand it with proper counseling. Among the different diets, some may be right for you, but others may harm your body in a certain way. Therefore, it is best to understand your body before starting a diet.
Short-term fasting can lead to ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body burns stored fat for energy when enough glucose is available. As a result, ketone-like compounds grow. It can lead to weight loss while consuming fewer calories overall. For the treatment of obesity, intermittent fasting has promising results. The investigations conducted are for short-term effects. However, understanding its long-term effect on bodily functions is still being studied.
Fasting is practiced by major religions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who lived in ancient Greece, believed that it promotes self-healing of the body. Scientists have primarily positive knowledge about what happens to your body during fasting.
Fasting affects the body’s metabolic functions, which may help promote blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, and improve the body’s ability to respond to physical stress. Some studies say this may help treat inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, and arthritis.
Understanding what is best for your body is crucial, and you should only do so by getting the proper guidance from a dietitian. Although most nutritionists are not against fasting, they always recommend a balanced diet with necessary adjustments according to one’s personal needs.