Some people firmly believe in specific eating patterns because they feel it supports optimum health while managing their appetite and weight. When you hear fasting and weight management, the first thought that crosses your mind is intermittent fasting. After all, it is one of the most popular and well-liked health fads in the last few years. Intermittent fasting requires frequent switching between eating and fasting windows. There are various ways to do this, many of which require you to go without food for 12 to 40 hours. However, intermittent fasting is not the only fasting form that people follow in their weight loss journey.
Various forms of fasting are gaining popularity for their weight loss benefits. But how safe are they? Do they really lead to sustainable weight loss? Do they not adversely affect your health? This article answers these and many more questions about fasting and weight loss.
Various forms of fasting play a beneficial role in managing weight and metabolic health. It may help reduce blood pressure, blood sugar, and fat levels in some people. That is primarily due to specific eating regimes. At the same time, fasting benefits some people who incorporate it within a long-term, balanced food plan. However, fasting can potentially cause adverse effects like irregulated hunger, headaches, and fatigue.
Your blood sugar levels go down when you do not eat for long. Reduced blood sugar levels with the stress of adjusting to a new schedule may impact your mood and mental health. So, not everyone may deal well with fasting. Furthermore, the adverse effects of fasting are not limited to your mental health. It also leads to physical health issues. Let us discover those in detail. But, before we do that, let us understand the various types of fasting.
Types of Fasting Diet
The type of fasting depends on the duration for which you do not consume any food. For many individuals, it might have varied effects. Hence, it is essential to understand the various types of fasting diets and pick the one (if at all) best suited for your body. However, choosing a balanced eating plan is always better to get the best weight loss results.
The various types of fasting diets are as follows:
Twice-a-Week Fasting Diet
This fasting method emphasises limiting your daily calorie intake to 500 on two days each week. You must adhere to a healthy diet for the other five days of the week.
When fasting, it’s crucial to emphasise high-fibre and high-protein foods to help you feel full and keep your calorie intake low. It is essential to eat more fruits and natural foods. At the same time, you must avoid any packaged food. This fasting diet allows you to choose any two days for your fast. It gives room for flexibility according to your schedule. As per the advocates of this fasting diet, it is an excellent approach to a healthy lifestyle as you get the proper nutrients required for your body, which might help you lose weight.
Time Restricted Eating Diet
This fasting diet restricts the time when you can consume food. It is generally in the cycle of 16/8 or 14/10. In the 16/8 schedule, you can only eat from 10 am to 6 pm (any 8 hours), and the 14/10 diet suggests eating from 9 am to 7 pm (any 10 hours).
The time-restricted fasting diet practically suggests that you should avoid eating after sunset. It is a widely known practice in some religions, to restrict eating right before sleep. Consuming food right before bedtime is one of the significant reasons for weight gain. According to a study, restricting and avoiding meals before bedtime will help you lose weight and enhance your health and body composition. However, the time-restricting diet is not backed by any significant scientific research as a substantial and sustainable weight-loss diet.
Alternate Day Fasting
This fasting diet demands following a cycle where you must control your diet every alternate day. In addition, it demands consuming only 25% of your normal calorie intake. Although the advocates of the diet believe that it is an excellent way to maintain your health and have weight loss benefits, the sustainability and health effects require thorough research.
The Warrior Diet
It is a challenging diet, where you only get a 4-hour window to eat. You are not permitted to eat anything for the next 20 hours. Your body only gets what you eat throughout that 4-hour interval. It is essential to understand that you cannot eat anything you like at that time as it will affect your body. You must focus on high-fibre, protein, and low-calorie intake.
Since the diet demands fasting for 20 hours a day, health experts question its sustainability and long-term advantages.
The 24-Hour Fast
Here, one can keep the fast on a specific day for an entire 24-hour period. Usually, people observe such fasts on religious occasions. This fast has its challenges and limitations along with benefits. It might be helpful for your weight loss journey, but it also leads to a nutrition deficit or less energy. Therefore, it is best to consult a dietician to choose the right diet for your body.
The HealthifyMe Note
There are various fasting diets, like the twice-a-week method, time-restricted, alternate-day fasting, warrior diet, and 24-hour fast. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. No diet is recommended-for-all diet. It ultimately depends on your body. Furthermore, even though several people believe these fasting diets may help lose weight, their sustainability and long-term effects are concerning. Hence, it is better to consult a nutritionist to get a balanced and customised eating plan.
Tips for Healthy Fasting
It is essential to understand that every diet has its pros and cons. Therefore, properly carrying on the diet is imperative to get the right benefits with the most negligible side effects.
The following pointers could help you in maintaining your goals and maximising the advantages of intermittent fasting:
- Stay Hydrated: Consume lots of water and calorie-free beverages like herbal teas throughout the day.
- Avoid Obsessing Over Food: On days when you’re not eating, schedule plenty of activities like catching up on work or going to the movies to keep your mind off food. Thinking about food will make it difficult for you to stick to the diet.
- Relax on Your Fasting Days: On days when you’re fasting, stay away from challenging activities. However, gentle exercise like yoga may be helpful.
- Count Your Calories: Choosing nutrient-dense foods high in protein, fibre, and beneficial fats is vital if the plan permits some calories during fasting times. Beans, lentils, eggs, salmon, almonds, and avocado are a few examples of nutrient-rich food you can add to your diet.
- Enhance the Flavour Without Adding Calories: Use plenty of garlic, herbs, spices, or vinegar to season food. These dishes have a tonne of flavour and very few calories, which can help people feel less hungry.
- Go Slow: It ultimately depends on your body and what it can take. So it is advisable to go slow on the fasting process and start small.
- Choose the Right Food: Pick foods satisfying yet low in calories, such as popcorn, raw vegetables, and fruits with a lot of water, like melons 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 proper nutrients with minimum calorie or fat intake.
- Consult a Dietician: No matter how sure you are about the type of food you should eat, it is best to understand it through the proper consultation. Among the various diets, some might be right for you, but others might harm your body in a certain way. Therefore, it is best to understand your body before starting a diet.
The HealthifyMe Note
Short-term fasting can result in ketosis, a metabolic state in which the body burns down stored fat for energy when insufficient glucose is available. Ketone-like compounds grow as a result. It can result in weight loss along with consuming fewer calories overall. For the treatment of obesity, intermittent fasting has promising results. The investigations conducted are for the short-term effects. However, understanding its long-term impact on body function is still under study.
Major religions practice fasting, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who lived in ancient Greece, thought it promoted self-healing of the body. Scientists have primarily positive knowledge about what occurs to your body while you fast.
Fasting impacts the body’s metabolic functions, which may help to enhance blood sugar control, reduce inflammation, and improve the body’s ability to respond to physical stress. Some studies say this may help inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis, asthma, and arthritis.
Understanding what is best for your body is crucial, and you must only do it by getting proper guidance from a dietician. Although most nutritionists are not against fasting diets, they always recommend a balanced diet with the necessary modifications according to one’s personal needs.