Fasting means going without food for a certain period of time. With intermittent fasting, you alternate between windows of time when you eat and ones when you don’t. This type of fasting is also referred to as time-restricted eating. You have a certain number of hours every day for eating, and the rest of the time is spent fasting.
There are many types of intermittent fasting. Here are some of the most popular ones.
This type of intermittent fasting involves fasting for 16 hours, then eating during the remaining eight hours of the day. For people who aren’t big on eating breakfast, 16:8 fasting may feel doable — you simply don’t eat anything before noon and stop eating at 8 pm.
If 16:8 fasting seems too extreme, you may want to consider 12-hour fasting. With this type of intermittent fasting, both your fasting and eating windows are 12 hours long. Since you probably sleep (and therefore fast) for around eight hours every night, 12 hours of fasting is relatively easy.
For those who are looking to move beyond 12 hours or 16:8 fasting, 8:16 fasting could be the next step. Your eating window is eight hours long with this type of intermittent fasting. The 16-hour fasting window may give your body the opportunity to use up stored carbohydrates and start burning fat for fuel instead. This is known as ketosis.1
This intermittent fasting plan involves fasting on two non-consecutive days during the week, then eating normally for the other five days. This type of fasting is very appealing to people who want to try fasting but don’t want to do it every day.
Much research has been done on what fasting can potentially do for health. Here are some of the health benefits of fasting that are backed by science.
No matter which type of intermittent fasting you choose, chances are you will lose weight. A 2018 data review found that intermittent fasting led to weight loss, regardless of a person’s body mass index (BMI).2 Patients who fasted also showed reductions in “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides. It’s important to note that intermittent fasting doesn’t give you a license to eat whatever you want during your so-called feeding window. Bingeing on junk food after a fast can throw your blood sugar out of whack (and is generally bad for your health).
Intermittent fasting may be helpful for people who struggle with digestive issues. In one study, patients with irritable bowel syndrome who didn’t respond to conventional treatment engaged in fasting therapy. At the end of the study period, patients experienced significant relief from symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea.3
Research indicates intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. A study of overweight adults with moderate asthma found that eight weeks of alternate-day fasting led to significant reductions in markers of oxidative stress and indicators of inflammation.4 Since inflammation and oxidative stress are the root cause of so many illnesses, lowering them can have a major impact on health.
Although I’ve chosen to highlight just three benefits of intermittent fasting, there are many more. They include improved heart and brain health, balanced blood sugar and insulin levels, and even a longer lifespan.
Although generally regarded as safe, intermittent fasting should be avoided by some people, like pregnant or breastfeeding women and those who have or have had an eating disorder. And women who fast may experience negative hormonal changes and/or effects on their fertility.5
To determine whether intermittent fasting is right for you, I encourage you to set up a consultation with me at My Pure MD. We can discuss the different types of intermittent fasting and develop a personalized plan that can meet your unique needs.