Most people understand that fasting means avoiding food for select amount of time. A more specific definition states that intermittent fasting is a specific eating pattern cycling between eating and not eating. The most important concept to understand is that TIME is the most important factor involved with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is not a one size fits all approach. There are numerous different types of fasting protocols including time restrictions, caloric restrictions, and dietary restrictions. Caloric restriction means reducing the number of calories you consume of specific days. Dietary restrictive fast involves significantly reducing s specific type of food usually carbohydrates.
More and more common in health-conscious groups of people, intermittent fasting is actually more of an eating pattern than a diet since it offers no rules or guidelines on what to eat, but rather focuses on the times of eating. Generally, there are three main patterns that have emerged within the approach of intermittent fasting. The most popular way to achieve a daily routine with intermittent fasting is by following the so-called 16 to 8 method, which is also called the Leangains protocol due to its founder. It involves either skipping breakfast or dinner and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. or 8 a.m.-16 p.m. Then the 16 hours in between are meant for fasting. Another common approach to intermittent fasting is the so-called Eat-Stop-Eat method. According to this pattern, you fast for at least 24 hours once or twice a week, for example by not eating from sunset to the sunset of the next day once or twice a week. Another, less common method which involves restricting your food intake and studying your calorie intake is the 5:2 diet. Following this method, you consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week but eat normally for the other 5 days of the week.
One of the main reasons for the growing popularity of intermittent fasting is that it has proven to help people lose weight, achieve better health, and improve their general lifestyle. The idea behind fasting is to let the digestive system rest and while allowing the body to focus on repairing itself at the cellular level. When practiced properly, intermittent fasting can potentially improve overall health and improvement of specific biomarkers. These include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and inflammatory markers. Of course, you absolutely need to discuss this with your doctor before attempting any change in diet.