Adults in their mid-thirties today often experience feelings of fatigue and sluggishness more often than those the same age did decades ago. While many have a good reason to be tired due to working long hours or not getting enough sleep because of a newborn in the house, there are others who struggle to find the reason for their fatigue. Many may visit their physician to explore the issue further, only to find out that they couldn’t be healthier. One solution that some individuals have found is intermittent fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a new phenomenon that is currently one of the most talked about health and fitness trends. The process involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting. Studies show that this form of fasting can lead to weight loss, protect against diseases, improve metabolic health, and prolong an individual’s lifespan.
With intermittent fasting, there is not a specific diet plan to follow. Instead, the focus is on when you should eat, not what you should eat. There are several methods to choose from, each one splits the day into fasting periods and times to eat.
We already fast each day when we sleep. Intermittent fasting could be as easy as extending the time between when we get up, and our first meal of the day. Skipping breakfast, eating a meal at noon, and another around 8 p.m. is a good example of intermittent fasting.
Looking back centuries ago when food wasn’t as readily available to us as it is today, experts have realized that our ancestors easily survived on only one or two meals each day. Only in the past few hundred years has the traditional 3-meals-a-day format become standardized.
So how did our ancestors survive eating so much less than we do today? It was through intermittent fasting, although they didn’t refer to it that way at the time. Those who have performed vast research on the subject have stated that intermittent fasting can protect the neurons located in the brain against a broad range of stressors including epileptic seizures, oxidative stress, strokes, and neurotoxins. This process can also help cells resist injury and various diseases.
While there has been evidence that intermittent fasting may cause cortisol levels in the body to rise, and some claim that it could lead to the development of eating disorders, if done correctly, anyone can attempt this form of fasting without issues.
How Intermittent Fasting Improves Your Health
After seeing various doctors without any reasonable results, one individual found the reason behind his ongoing fatigue. He was in shape, worked out regularly, and was in the prime of his life. After researching various conditions, he found that his blood sugar levels were out of control. However, he wasn’t dealing with his diabetes.
The man had trained his body to crave simple carbs while working on building up his muscles and staying fit. He found that he was in a cycle of consuming a large amount of sugar to promote his energy levels, but the would crash soon afterward. He realized that this cycle was the cause of his fatigue by trying out intermittent fasting for 12 hours a day.
There are several benefits of intermittent fasting, which include slowing down the aging process and improving one’s cardiovascular health as well as brain function. Those who have tried this method have stated that they feel healthier with less fatigue and more focus throughout the day. And those dealing with consistent fatigue no longer must take a nap each day.
The Increase of Adaptive Cellular Stress Responses
When someone fasts for more than 12 hours in a row, their body begins to turn all glucose metabolism into fat metabolism. The reaction causes many positive adaptive cellular stress responses. Fasting for longer than that, such as 16 hours a day, will provide the benefits of average caloric intake and the advantages of adaptive responses.
The cellular stress response includes a variety of changes that our cells go through due to environmental stressors such as toxin exposure. When we experience adaptive cellular stress responses, our cells become protected against these unwanted environmental changes. The process can help combat a variety of health conditions such as degenerative disease and certain forms of cancer.
How to Start Intermittent Fasting
There are three main ways to begin intermittent fasting. They are:
- The 5:2 Diet where the person regularly eats for five days and then reduces their intake to 600 calories the following two days.
- The Alternate-Day Fasting Diet: where the individual rotates between a standard three-meals-a-day diet plan to 600 calories the next day.
- Time Redistricted Eating: this is where the person will limit their food consumption to only four to eight hours each day.
Before starting on an intermittent fasting plan, it’s important to look at these three examples and figure out which is the best for your lifestyle. Both the 5:2 Diet and alternate-day fasting can help those interested in losing weight. Time-restricted eating is ideal for those who want to eliminate fatigue and don’t need a weight loss plan. With that option, the individual receives a reasonable caloric intake each day and still receives the benefits of fasting.
Intermittent fasting is a process that can help you lose weight, gain more energy, and feel better overall if done correctly. Those interested in starting the process should not jump into it and immediately go from eating three large meals per day to only one. Instead, it is best to go into the diet plan gradually and slowly build up to limiting your meals or caloric intake. Changing up a diet plan too quickly often leads to the person giving up before they receive any benefits because the experience is too unpleasant for them.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t require you to stick to one format or schedule meals obsessively. It’s easy to try out other methods if one is not working out. Those who are fasting between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. can still go out for dinner with friends at 7 p.m. There aren’t any strict rules to follow as you’re just changing up the amount of food consumed, and when. Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.