What Happens to Metabolism in Fasting?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary plan where you eat at certain times and then refrain from eating completely between those periods. Following an intermittent fasting pattern can help with weight loss and positively affect other health conditions.

There are dozens of popular diet plans that claim to promote weight loss and better health. Many suggest restricting the types of food you eat in order to reduce calories. Other plans advocate merely restricting the amount of food you eat for fat loss. 

There is a growing body of research that suggests that changing the timing of eating and extending the time between meals may be a more reliable way to lose weight. Intermittent fasting is a plan that sets times when you don’t eat any food at all. During those periods, your body can process all the food you ate previously and trigger metabolic changes that lead to weight loss. Some studies show that there are other health benefits as well. 

Intermittent fasting is a dietary plan where you eat at certain times and then refrain from eating completely between those periods. The periods when you don’t eat are considered fasting periods.

The goal of intermittent fasting is to give your body time to fully digest the food you consume. Once your body has processed the food you eat, it can’t rely on those calories for energy. Instead, you start to burn stored fat to keep your body working.

In theory, this allows your body to mimic the eating patterns that ancient humans would have followed. Hunter-gatherer peoples would have eaten during times when food was present. During the remaining hours, they would not have had access to food.

That’s a contrast to modern eating patterns. In contemporary society, food is plentiful and available on demand. As a result, many people eat much more frequently than ancient humans ever did. The constant consumption of calories means that human bodies never run out of outside energy and burn only calories from food.

There are different methods of intermittent fasting. All of them suggest that you set specific times for eating and other periods where you don’t consume any more calories. Some popular fasting patterns include:

Daily fasting

You select a period of six to eight hours during which you eat all meals and snacks. During the remaining 16 to 18 hours, you don’t eat anything. This period can include the time when you’re asleep, so it may not be as drastic as it sounds at first. It can be an easy pattern to stick to since it allows regular meals during waking hours.

The 5:2 fasting plan

For this plan, you eat however you like for five days each week. During fasting days, though, you restrict yourself to a few hundred calories per day. The fasting days do not need to be consecutive. 

Alternate day fasting

With this type of intermittent fasting, you eat whatever you choose every other day and fast the other days. On fasting days, you limit yourself to 500 calories or less.

Extended fasting

Some people engage in extended fasting periods, going 24 hours or longer at a time without food. This may become unsafe, though. Talk to your doctor before going without food for extended periods. 

While engaged in any intermittent fasting plan, no-calorie beverages such as water are encouraged. Staying well-hydrated is important to overall health, so be sure to drink enough fluids even while fasting.


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