Posted on Jun 22, 2023, 6 p.m.
Are you looking for a way to feel more energized and improve your overall health while still enjoying the foods you love? If so, you've surely heard about the latest promising popular diet called intermittent fasting.
And you're not alone - last year, Google searches related to "intermittent fasting" saw an astounding 636% increase! Indeed, intermittent fasting has recently become wildly popular as millions of people discover its many powerful benefits.
But what exactly is intermittent fasting, and why has it become so popular? In this article, we'll explore the world of intermittent fasting, its benefits, different fasting plans, and the science behind its rise.
What is Intermittent Fasting, and Why Is It Popular?
Intermittent fasting is not a new concept; it has been practiced for centuries in some cultures. Historically, fasting was primarily done for religious or spiritual reasons. However, in recent times, it has gained traction as a rather practical approach to losing weight and improving one's overall well-being.
According to Philly Mag, intermittent fasting involves cycles of eating and fasting, with the fasting period usually lasting between 12 to 16 hours - and sometimes even up to a full 24 hours. In short, intermittent fasting is the intentional decision to skip meals or restrict calorie intake for some time during your day for better health. For example, you'd wake up, have breakfast, and go to work. Eight hours later, you'd have another snack - and not eat until your next breakfast the following day, ensuring 12-16 hours where your body can burn any excess calories. Simple.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
One of the main reasons behind the growing popularity of intermittent fasting is its beneficial effect on your health. Many proponents of intermittent fasting claim that by following the otherwise simple method, people can lose weight, enhance brain function and alleviate their general health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. For example, Vox reports that some studies indicate intermittent fasting may lead to weight loss by reducing overall calorie intake and improving insulin sensitivity - which makes sense.
Furthermore, intermittent fasting has been associated with many other health benefits. These include reduced inflammation, lowered blood pressure, and balanced cholesterol levels. Some researchers believe intermittent fasting has an anti-aging effect by activating cellular repair processes and increasing the production of certain proteins necessary for good health. This is still a so-called young research area, meaning that more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects and potential risks of intermittent fasting.
Different Types of Intermittent Fasting Plans
But as with almost any type of diet or wellness regimen, there is no one size fits all solution - and this applies to intermittent fasting as well. Several popular intermittent fasting plans allow individuals to choose a schedule that best suits their lifestyle and goals.
For example, the 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours and restricting the eating window to 8 hours daily.
Another approach is the 5:2 intermittent fasting plan, where individuals normally eat for five days and limit calorie intake to 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days. Alternate-day fasting is a more radical approach, where individuals go on a complete fast every other day (or consume very few calories on fasting days), thereby accelerating the weight loss process.
The Science Behind Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting has gained significant popularity, it is important to recognize that the scientific evidence supporting its benefits is still evolving. Vox notes that much of the available research on intermittent fasting has been conducted on animals or in small human studies. Larger, long-term studies are needed to understand better the effects of intermittent fasting on different populations and its sustainability over time.
According to the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, intermittent fasting is ahead of the scientific consensus. While initial findings are promising, more rigorous studies are required to understand the physiological mechanisms behind intermittent fasting and its long-term impact on human health. While intermittent fasting has been widely praised as safe and harmless, the Harvard Medical School has warned of possible unintended side effects.
Intermittent fasting has become a rising trend in the health and wellness world, with many people embracing it for its potential weight loss and health benefits. And, with good reason, the method is simple enough for almost anyone to implement while ensuring people have enough nutrition daily.
But while intermittent fasting may have its merits, it is crucial to approach it cautiously and consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes.
The scientific community is still busy researching the effects of intermittent fasting, both positive and negative. So if you're excited to try this new and promising weight-loss and health-improvement method, it is important to consider your needs and preferences and check with your doctor first. Whatever you choose to do, though, enjoy!
This article was written for WHN by Jessica Smith, who is a content creator, blogger, and health advocate.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.
Content may be edited for style and length.
References/Sources/Materials provided by: