There’s always a new fad diet being mentioned in the news. At the moment, the most popular seems to be the fasting diet. But does it work, and is it safe? Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves going a specific period of time without eating. The amount of time fasting and frequency of fasting time varies from different diet plans. The most common around nowadays are the 5:2 plan that involves 5 days a week eating, and 2 days a week fasting and the ADF (Alternate Day Fasting) Plan.
The alternate day fasting plan works differently by allowing you to eat anything on your eating days followed by a very low calorie intake on your fasting day (fewer than 600 calories). Currently, there is not enough research to show which plan works better but research has proven that both can provide extensive health benefits. Recent research at the National Institute of Aging in the USA has found promising evidence that shows intermittent fasting can protect against some of the worst effects of Alzheimer’s, as well as Parkinson’s and other ailments. Studies have also shown that intermittent fasting can produce significant improvements in cholesterol levels as well as decreasing the risk of chronic diseases.
Another benefit that has been found from taking part in intermittent fasting is the lowering of the IGF-1 hormone. This hormone is used in early life to assist in growing but as you get older it has been shown that it causes aging. Intermittent fasting causes the lowering of this hormone, which in turn has been shown to protect against cancer and diabetes.
I think the most realistic of the plans is the Alternate Day Fasting plan as this allows you to eat a small amount during your fasting days. I find that this reduces the need to give in and gorge on food. Although fasting is a great diet plan with many proven health benefits, it is important to do it in moderation; twice a week is more than enough to attain all the health benefits.
After the first few days, I started to struggle with the lack of food so here’s a few tips to get you through the fast:
Start your fast straight after dinner; if you eat at 7pm, and wake up at 7am, then half your fast is already over.
When your fast is over, ensure you don’t increase the size of your meals. Keep the portion sizes the same as you’d usually eat, and eat slowly to ensure you feel full quicker.
It takes around 2-3 weeks to get used to fasting after you first start. This means you should fast for at least a couple of months to see the benefits.
Drink lots of water, this will fill your stomach. You can also drink tea and coffee (without milk and sugar) and from time to time, diet drinks.
I found that mixing a fasting diet with calorie control when not fasting is a great way to lose weight and keep it off.
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