Intermittent Fasting – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide!
Intermittent Fasting – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide! By Naveen Sharma, Founder – Ashmayu Yoga Institute.
Diet is not fasting, neither is fasting a diet. To make it simple, a diet will tell you what to eat and what not to eat. It is a sort of starving. On the contrary, fasting doesn’t mean you starve. It is simply controlling your hunger with strong willpower. Fasting never creates fear nor does it bound you not to eat. It just librates you to decide the duration of fasting. Even when the food is available, you choose to stay hungry.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is all about the pattern of eating in which the focus is on the cycles, periods and time of fasting and eating.
It does not talk anything about what to eat and what to avoid, but rather when to eat.
In other words, we can describe Intermittent fasting as an eating pattern rather than a diet.
In intermittent fasting, You should fast for 16 or 24 hours, twice per week.
People have been practicing fasting for ages.
Fasting is a mandatory ritual in many religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and has a tested and proven science behind it.
Fasting is a very natural process to detoxify the body and the best part is as humans, we are used to it in some or the other way.
There are many changes at hormone and cellular level which take place in the body while fasting. It also helps in reducing blood sugar and insulin levels.
You must have heard a lot about fasting and its positive effects on health. Fasting from 1 day to 1 week or 1 month etc. has a lot of benefits which are scientifically proven and tested many times. The problem arises if the rules of observing and breaking fast are not followed properly.
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting may prove to be beneficial for health in many ways.
- Weight loss
- Increased energy
- Better digestive system
- Diabetes control
- Decreased body fat
- Good for heart
- More mental clarity
- Low cholesterol
- Activation of cellular cleansing by stimulating autophagy – A 2016 Nobel Prize awarded in medicine
It should be a regular practice and daily routine than doing it once or twice a year, But again, be careful about breaking the fast. The longer the duration the lighter you should eat.
When you do not eat anything, the level of insulin in your body falls down and the body starts getting the energy by burning the stored fat in the liver and then in other body parts. It helps in losing weight and in digestive system too.
How does Intermittent fasting work?
When we eat more food, more energy is generated than the amount which can immediately be used. Some of this energy is stored away for later use. Insulin is the key hormone involved in the storage of food energy.
Insulin rises when we eat, helping to store the excess energy. However, there is limited storage space; and once that is reached, the liver starts to turn the excess glucose into fat. This process is called De-Novo Lipogenesis (meaning literally Making Fat from New). Some of this fat is stored in the liver, but most of it is exported to the other fat deposits in the body.
The process goes in reverse when we do not eat (fasting). Insulin level falls, the body starts burning stored energy as no more is coming through food.
Glycogen is the most easily accessible energy source.
This can provide enough energy to power the body for 24-36 hours. After that, the body will start breaking down fat for energy.
Either we are storing food energy, or we are burning it. Balalnced eating and fasting reduces weight gain.
Every day, when you do not eat between two meals or at night after the dinner when you eat straight in the morning, then also you are fasting. That long gap between the meals is fasting. This fasting can sometimes be of 4-5 hrs or 10-18 hrs and ever more than that.
To simplify Intermittent fasting, let’s divide our day into 2 zones, the eating zone, and the not eating zone. For this Intermittent fasting, you need to decide the hours in which you would eat and the hours when you would not eat.
You can –
- Eat between 11 am – 7 pm (means after the dinner at 7 pm on day one, you will not eat breakfast on day 2 instead you would take a meal at 11 am) almost 16 hrs
- Dinner to dinner (after the dinner on day one you skip the breakfast and lunch on day 2, you take a meal in the evening of day 2) – almost 24 hrs
- You can also try eating in 4hrs or 8hrs duration. Means whatever you eat, you eat during those decided hrs.
- If you are capable of fasting for 24hrs go for 36hrs instead. (eat dinner on day 1, skip everything on day 2 and eat breakfast on day 3) Because, after 24 hrs if you eat dinner, you would surely eat a lot.
- Alternate days fasting (eat on day 1, skip the day 2 and again eat on day 3) almost 36hrs fasting after 12 hrs eating in between.
- Take only 2 meals a day (eat at 11 am then at 7 pm then again at 11 am the next day) 8- 16hrs
Intermittent fasting is not like the religious fasting famous in India. It is not that you live without even water during the fasting period. Of course, you can have tea/ coffee/water.
Suggestions stay focused while fasting –
- Keep yourself engaged
- Keep following your routine as usual
- Do not listen to demotivating people
- Drink plenty of water
- At the time of eating, intake low carb food to control your hunger
It’s all about developing a habit. Gradually you would find yourself comfortable in whatever fasting duration you are practicing.
Side effects and the solutions
- Constipation – You don’t need to worry. Drink warm water during fast and eat fibers during the eating period. No medication required.
- A headache – It’s quite common when you are hungry. So take a pinch of extra salt.
- Dizziness/cramps – they will go with time, no need to worry.
The serious one is when a person grows undernourished.
Now the most important question arises –
What are the conditions when one shouldn’t fast?
– A person who is underweight
– A pregnant or breastfeeding woman
– A minor ( person below 18yrs)
– A person under any sort of medication
Always consult your doctor before practicing this way of fasting.
Eat – Fast – Eat – Fast but don’t Eat Fast Never binge after you break your fast.
Live a balanced life to lead a healthier one!
You can connect with Naveen Sharma via