Concept of fasting here in India have been followed for religious reasons since centuries. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. There is various cycle that are been followed commonly:
- 16/8 – where a person fasts for 16 hours and eat during 8-hour window.
- 20/4 – where a fast for 20 hours and eat during 4 hours window.
- 24 hours fasting `once in a week or 2 to 3 times in a week.
Most commonly followed is 16/8.
Why most of the people are suddenly following Intermittent fasting?
Like other fad diets, this is also a kind of fad diet the main difference is that it does not tell you what exactly to be eaten.
- People love shortcuts: It is the human tendency that we all love shortcuts and especially when it comes to lose fat. In my experience of being a fat loss expert, everyone wants to lose as fast as possible.
- Calorie deficit: By eliminating meal or meals in the fasting window, a person tends to eat less calories in a day thereby creating calorie deficit which helps in losing weight.
- A belief that stored fat is used as energy: Some people think that by fasting for that amount of time, you then force your body to use stored fat and not your food as energy which burns the fat.
Positive effects of Intermittent Fasting:
- Helps lose weight: Intermittent fasting helps eat fewer calories which helps lose weight.
- Helps control appetite: Once a person follows intermittent fasting, since they get into the habit of not eating for too many hours, they tend to control their appetite later.
- Helps improve condition in chronic illness: As per my research and the study, it helps improves various chronic conditions related to inflammation like Alzheimer’s, Arthritis etc. However, I have personally not seen anyone.
Negative effects of Intermittent Fasting:
- Overeating: Most people end up overeating since they eat after a long hour and consuming more calories than they would usually consume.
- Mood swings: Intermittent fasting can cause irritability, anxiety and tend to get into a zone of mood swings.
- Weakness: This is the most common complain I hear that it causes headaches, feeling of fatigue, muscle weakness and low on energy.
- Lack of direction towards nutrition guidance: Most people tend to eat unhealthy food or junk food thinking that this diet helps lose weight and at the same time allows to eat whatever you feel like but it is purely lack of direction and it won’t help lose weight.
What I think about Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is good if followed for a short span of time like a month or few months or your when your physical movement is absolutely limited. In the times like Covid when you sit at home and your movements are highly restricted, I suggest it is a great way to help one stay in shape and avoid indulging into unnecessary eating. However, Body builders and Athletes cannot stick to this diet because they need constant supply of energy as per their target. Moreover, I would still suggest to follow a balanced diet rather than falling under the trap of eating anything and everything you crave for!
In longer run here’s what I suggest for people to stay healthy and burn fat:
- Eat a healthy diet of sensibly portioned meals comprised of a quality protein, carbohydrate, healthy fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Include the following
- Fresh fruits and vegetables,
- Whole grains, including quinoa, brown rice, oats, millets and barley
- Lean protein sources, such as poultry, fish, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, low fat cottage cheese, and eggs
- Healthful fats from fatty fish, olives, olive oil, coconuts, avocados, nuts, and seeds
Incorporate both cardio and strength training into your workout routine. Strength training builds muscle, and muscle is a more metabolic tissue than body fat. This means that the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn daily, even at rest.
This is what we want for both fat burn and long-term health: a metabolism that runs efficiently—not one that’s constantly going into starvation mode.