Everyone is talking about it. Most people are thinking about doing it. A lot of people are actually practising it. Before your naughty mind can go off, we are talking about Intermittent Fasting; one of the most popular eating plans out there right now.
From celebrities and fitness enthusiasts worldwide to apps that promise to draw out personalised IF plans; it sure seems to be the go-to plan for many. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Also, will it work for you? Read on to find out.
The not-a-diet regimen
There is a popular misconception that Intermittent Fasting is a diet. News flash: It isn’t. You don’t need to give up on your favourite foods to follow it like how you’d while following any given diet. That doesn’t also mean it’s easy; self-control can be an uphill task, especially when your BFF is eating a portion of French Fries while you’re fasting!
There are different ways to fast—on alternate days, twice a week or daily for long hours at a stretch. During the fasting window—you’re only allowed to consume water or green tea (without sugar or honey).
In one of her Instagram videos comparing various diets, celebrity nutritionist Pooja Makhija says, ‘IF isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle approach and not a short-term plan. To enjoy its benefits, you’ll need serious discipline to stick to it and make it your eating plan.’ Makhija, adds that for it to work, you need to make sure you’re eating balanced meals during your eating window.
The good: Burns fat, improves metabolism and helps with your fitness goals
As long as you don’t snack between meals, your insulin levels will go down and the fat cells can then release their stored sugar to be used as energy. The entire idea of IF based on this one principle—the insulin levels need to go down far enough and for long enough for the body to burn off the fat!
In an in-depth review of the science behind IF recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers make a strong case for its effectiveness. The researchers of the review, went through lots of animal and human studies to explain how simple fasting—improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar levels, and reduces inflammation. All of the above help you further your fitness goals.
Bhaskar Shetty, a Mumbai-based certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist says, “While fitness goals vary from person to person IF can keep people away from consuming those extra calories that add up. Plus, if you’re tired of constantly counting calories and macros, Intermittent Fasting may be a good way for you to reach the same goal with a different kind of effort.”
The bad: May lead to bingeing and can keep your body in an acidic state
“The 16:8 daily fasting is said to be ideal, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an eight-hour window. If you’re the type of guy who wakes up ravenous or who needs to eat every two-three hours, IF is definitely not for you. This may lead to binge-eating during the eating window, which will be counterproductive, ” explains Shetty. “Moreover, sticking to IF alone won’t give you that six-pack you dream of; you’ll also need to find a workout and rest routines to complement it to fully reach your fitness/health goals.”
Makhija is also of the opinion that fasting for long periods can result in your body being in an acidic state, which isn’t ideal as it lowers your immunity and increases the risk of migraines. No two people’s bodies will react the same way to any given diet. Multiple factors should be considered before deciding to go on IF. Your age, pre-existing health issues if any, hormones, body fat percentage, sugar or insulin levels and much more; so it’s crucial to consult your doctor or nutritionist before taking up a new diet or intermittent fasting. So, if you’re a guy with thyroid and hormonal imbalance, it’s best to find another eating plan that works for you.
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