Intermittent Fasting – is it healthy

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intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting is getting popular by the day. More and more people are opting for this strategy when it comes to weight loss because it has shown results in many. However, most of us do not want to understand the concept and how to implement it so that besides losing weight, it helps to improve our overall health. The outcome, in the long run, can be dangerous. 

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting which is also known as intermittent energy restriction is a type of voluntary fasting in which we restrict snacks and meals to a certain timeframe during a 24-hour cycle. At times the procedure is spread to 48 hours too in which fasting is practiced for the first 24 hours and normal eating for the next 24 hours. This is alternate-day fasting. 

This fasting procedure is mostly adopted to lose weight. The basic concept is that we do not allow the body to settle in a starvation and energy intake state. Thus the body is unable to follow its starvation protocol in which it is supposed to automatically save energy by reducing metabolic rate and deposit fats. Thus the body during the non-eating period consumes reserve energy and before it realizes starvation, energy intake starts. 

What are we missing?

Intermittent fasting is detrimental as it may lead to loss of muscle mass. Also, intermittent fasting is effective only if we are calorie deficient. Also since we have a long fasting period, the micro-nutrients required need extra planning. That means during the energy intake period we need to make nutrient-dense food rather than calorie-dense food. 

A study was done in which 25 test subjects were made to be calorie deficient but no fasting. Another 25 test subjects were put on intermittent fasting but with no calorie deficiency. It was noticed that weight loss was much more in the first group. Also, the first group was made to do some physical activity to be calorie deficient which maintained their muscle mass as compared to the second group which lost an average of 3.6% of muscle mass in 45 days test period. 

How to do healthy intermittent fasting

Anyone who wants to do intermittent fasting needs to remember that for weight loss the final aim is to be calorie deficient. Hence one should plan the intake period carefully. One must also keep in mind to include physical activity to maintain muscle mass. Eating nutrient-dense food that is healthy and full of fiber to have normal body functions is most important. 

It has also been observed from several studies that a woman’s body generally adopts faster than men. This means that women tend to conserve energy faster during the fasting period. Hence they will have to struggle more to be calorie deficient during the food intake period.

The take-home

One has to experiment on eating in a way that works best. However, it is imperative to follow the basic guidelines about nutrients and physical activity. In case you want to practice intermittent fasting, it is our recommendation that you take a sports dietitian’s advice to have balanced food. Also, ensure you find time to do some physical activity.

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