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What is Intermittent Fasting

Basically, intermittent fasting (IF) is a form of calorie restriction in which individuals go for an extended period of time without eating followed by eating for a period of time. Fasting can improve insulin sensitivity or the way your body uses insulin, decrease inflammation, and reduce low density cholesterol. But IF does not guarantee weight loss.  Weight loss can be achieved through IF when it is done correctly.

This means, that if an individual fasts for 16 hours and eats in an 8-hour window, the food that is consumed should be healthy or whole foods. For example, foods eaten in the 8-hour window should include foods from the 5 main food groups. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy.  If an individual fasts for 16 hours and then decides to eat junk food during the 8-hour window, they may not lose weight. Why? Because, weight loss requires a caloric deficit. It is also important to consume adequate amounts of protein while IF to maintain muscle mass.

Options for Intermittent Fasting

There are a couple of options for IF. The most popular option is the 16:8 option. With this option, the individual will fast for 16 hours and then limiting eating to an 8-hour window.  Another option is the 5:2 option. With this option, individuals eat as they normally do for 5 days a week and then cut back to 20 percent of their normal daily calorie intake on the other two days. Usually this means consuming 500 calories on fasting days for women, and 600 calories a day on fasting days for men.

Alternate day fasting is another option. With this option, an individual fasts for 24 hours on one day and the next 24 hours, the individual eats their normal diet. Weight loss can be achieved with this method because a negative caloric balance is created every other day. However, it can be more challenging. However, this option may be good for an individual who does not want to change their nutrition including eating junk food. Why? Because they are cutting down their consumption of junk food from 7 days a week to 4 days a week.

As far as sustainability, IF can be sustainable long term. The more your fast, the more your body becomes accustomed to fasting and you will be able to fast for longer periods of time. It is important to eat healthy foods during the eating window to maintain nutritional requirements. Adequate protein intake is necessary to maintain muscle mass. 

To conclude, IF is a dietary protocol that can be used for weight loss when done correctly. As I have stated in the past, it is important to follow a dietary protocol that you can maintain long-term to avoid regaining weight.