Get Expert Guidance in Intermittent Fasting
There has been significant interest in the health effects of short-term fasting, time-restricted feeding (TRF) and calorie restriction. Short fasting periods, for example overnight, appear to allow replenishment of bacterial populations. However, prolonged fasting or unhealthy dietary restriction, such as that seen in eating disorders, may lead to disruption of the integrity of the protective mucus layer in the gut and thus have negative effects.
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Time-restricted feeding (TRF) is characterized by eating patterns that are restricted to a short (<8–10 h) interval each day, such as during the (E) early or (F) middle portion of the day. Intermittent fasting regimens involve 60–100% energy restriction on fast days with ad libitum energy intake on fed days. TRF without reducing caloric intake has been shown to prevent or attenuate severity of several metabolic diseases, including obesity, glucose intolerance, hepatic steatosis, dyslipidemia, and age-related decline in cardiac function.
Compared to intermittent fasting, a circadian fast prioritizes an earlier eating window during the day. Intermittent fasting, specifically time-restricted feeding, involves longer standard fasts of 16 hours and an eight-hour eating window that can occur any time of day. Typically, circadian rhythm fasting involves fasting from 7 pm to 7 am whereas the most popular form of intermittent fasting involves fasting for 16 hours a day. This is known as the 16:8 method.
18:6 is more restrictive and difficult to follow than other types of fasting that have longer eating windows.
- Go slowly - Like any other lifestyle change, gradual steps can be more sustainable than diving in headfirst. Experts recommend first starting out with a 12-hour fasting window, then gradually achieving 14 and 16 hours before making your way to 18 hours. And you can always return to these fasting plans if you find 18:6 too difficult.
- Find your reason - Set your goal and judge success with any of the following - weight loss, improved metabolic flexibility, reduced insulin or leptin resistance, resetting your poor eating habits and lifestyle habits, anti-aging, lowering inflammation.
- Think positively- It is more likely to be successful if you adapt to an IF lifestyle if you believe you can do it. Use gratitude practices and work on changing limiting beliefs and replacing them with positive affirmations.
- Stick to a schedule - Pick a schedule that supports your lifestyle and stick to it. For most that would look something like starting your first meal at 12:30 p.m. and ending your eating window at 6:30 p.m. Experts suggest anyone starting IF to maintain their normal daily schedule and to keep busy.
- Eat the right foods - It's a common misconception that you can still reap the benefits of IF while loading your body with oversize portions of your favorite comfort foods.A focus on nutrient-dense foods with protein, healthy fats, plenty of fiber, lots of spices, and eating diversely, while avoiding processed foods that contain added sugar, gluten, seed oils, and chemical food additives. Breaking up longer fasts by drinking a cup of broth can also help stave off hunger - though it will technically "break" your fast.
- Give hunger pangs time to pass - Hunger pangs might be the most distracting bodily mechanism in the world. But if you don't give in to them right away, you'll be promoting your body's fat-burning processes.
- Control stress - A break in your eating routine may understandably trigger a stress response. Experts encourage you to use stress management techniques like meditation, mindfulness, grounding, belly breathing, nature, exercise, and tech breaks to get through it.
- Manage detox symptoms - Detoxing may be one of IF's most prized benefits, but it can initially present itself in uncomfortable ways. When you hit ketosis for the first few times, you can get the 'keto flu.' Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, constipation, brain fog, or fatigue. You can manage these symptoms by supporting your body's natural detoxification pathways. But if symptoms continue for a few weeks, it's a sign you might want to adjust your fasting schedule.
- Hydrate adequately - It's not enough to simply fast—the success of IF requires adequate hydration. If you're looking for more excitement than plain water, you can also hydrate with plain green and black teas and other teas like ginger and herbal, which are packed with polyphenols and other compounds that stimulate autophagy. Keep in mind that when you fast, you run the risk of flushing out electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, and chloride that impact every cell of your body. So when fasting, supplementing with electrolytes is important.