What Is Intermittent Fasting? Explained in Human Terms

A pattern of eating called intermittent fasting is now a days one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends.

It includes alternating cycles of fasting and eating.

Many studies show that this can lead to weight loss, improve metabolic health, prevent disease and perhaps help you live longer (12).

This article explains about intermittent fasting and its benifits, and why you should care.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern which cycles between periods of eating and fasting.

It does not say anything about which types of food you should eat but preferably when you should eat them.

There are various methods of intermittent fasting, all of which devide the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.

Most people already “fast” every day, while they sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as increasing that fast a some what longer.

You can do this by skipping breakfast, taking your first meal at noon and your last meal at 8 pm.

Then you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and limiting your eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular type of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method.

In spite of what you may think, intermittent fasting is actually very easy to follow. Many people report feeling better and having more energy during a fast.

Hunger is often not that major issue, although it can be a problem in the starting, while your body is getting used to fasting for extended duration of time.

No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink watercoffeetea and other zero-calorie drinks.

Some forms of intermittent fasting allow little amounts of low-calorie foods during the fasting window.

Taking supplements is usually allowed during fast as long as there are no calories in them.

Why Fast?

Humans have actually been fasting for several years.

Sometimes it was done out of requirement, when there normally wasn’t any food available.

In other instances, it was done for religious purposes. Various religions, including Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, instruct some form of fasting.

Humans and other animals also usually spontaneously fast when sick.

Certainly, there is nothing “unnatural” about fasting, and our bodies are very well equipped to handle extended periods of fasting.

All kind of processes in the body change when we don’t eat for a while, in order to allow our bodies to thrive during a period of deprivation. It has to do with hormones, genes and necessary cellular repair processes (3).

When fasted, we get remarkable lowering in blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as a extreme elevation in human growth hormone (45).

Many people follow intermittent fasting for the purpose of weight loss, as it is a very simple and effective way to limit calories and burn fat (678).

Others follow it for the metabolic health benefits, as it can improve several different risk factors and health markers (1).

There is also some proof that intermittent fasting can help you live longer. Studies in rodents show that it can increase lifespan as effectively as calorie restriction (910).

Some research also tells that it can help prevent diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and others (1112).

Other people simply like the comfort of intermittent fasting.

It is an effective “life hack” that makes your life easier, while improving your health at the same time. The fewer meals you require to plan for, the easier your life will be.

Not having meal 3-4 times a day (with the preparation and cleaning involved) also saves some time.

Types of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has become very popular and trendy in the recent few years, and verious different types or methods have emerged.

Here are some of the most popular forms:

  • The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between 12 pm to 8pm.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or two times a week, don’t eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
  • The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, restrict your calories about 500–600 calories.

Then there are many other versions.

Take Home Message

As long as you eat healthy foods, limiting your eating window and fasting from time to time can have some very noticeable health benefits.

It is an effective method to lose fat and improve metabolic health and simplifying your life as well.

You can find more detailed information on intermittent fasting here: Intermittent Fasting 101 – The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide.

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