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We’ve long heard of diets that restrict or add certain foods to what we normally eat, but is that all there is to it? More recently, there has been a surge in examining the times of day we consume our calories as a way to promote healthier eating. In this article, we’ll go over intermittent fasting, a few of its benefits, and some of the best strategies to build healthy eating habits into your diet.
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What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting refers to voluntarily restricting eating hours and/or meal times as a way of boosting health. Generally speaking, there are a couple of different methods that people adhere to when intermittent fasting:
1. The 16/8 Method
This method involves eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16. The most common way of scheduling this is by having an open eating window from 12 pm to 8 pm. This means that you’re likely skipping breakfast and taking care to not snack after dinner.
2. Spontaneous Meal Skipping
You’ve probably undergone this form of intermittent fasting at some point in your life. The basic concept is to skip meals whenever convenient with an awareness that your body likely does not need a full 3 meals every day. Being conscious of when you’re actually hungry is always a great place to start, especially for beginner fasters.
3. The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 method or diet consists of regularly eating 5 days out of the week, and for the remaining two eating only 500 calories or so. It’s best to separate your two days of fasting to keep your body adequately nourished.
4. On and Off Fasting
While this method is not recommended for beginners, it poses helpful benefits for experienced fasters. This schedule consists of eating normally one day and then eating very few calories, or not at all the next.
The OMAD diet consists of fasting largely for 23 hours of the day and eating one large meal during a restricted 1-hour period.
Why Should I Intermittent Fast?
So, why should you take up intermittent fasting? For starters, fasting is entirely voluntary and is something you should only try out if you feel mentally and physically ready. While it may not seem the most appealing, intermittent fasting for weight loss is surprisingly effective.
According to research compiled by Harvard University, intermittent fasting over a period of 10 weeks typically equated to a weight loss of 7-11 pounds.
Intermittent fasting can also reduce hunger cravings and build discipline surrounding food. Not to mention, it is one of the few dieting methods that may allow you to retain more muscle mass while cutting out fat.
How to Eat Healthier
While intermittent fasting is great for many, it’s certainly not for everyone. Here are a couple of general methods to incorporate healthy eating into your diet. It should be noted that intermittent fasting is largely only effective if you’re taking in proper nutrients as described below.
Instead of three large meals throughout the day, try eating smaller amounts whenever your body is hungry. By doing this, you’re likely to have more consistent levels of energy. Plus, you’ll automatically become more attuned to your body’s needs.
Getting Proper Nutrients
It sounds cliche, but getting your daily dose of fruits and veggies is incredibly important! Try to incorporate a number of fruits and vegetables into your diet, of many different varieties and colors. If you aren’t getting the full-color spectrum of nutritious foods, you need to rethink your diet.
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Staying Clear of Processed Foods
While it’s very difficult to avoid processed foods entirely, opting for more natural alternatives is always a step in the right direction. The closer a food is to its original state, the better.
Reaching Out for Help
Do you find yourself still needing an extra push to launch your new diet? Check out some of these resources for help.
- Helpful Apps: Digital food journals like Noom can help you calculate your precise caloric intake so you can see your progress over time.
- Online Workouts: Intermittent fasting for weight loss is best paired with exercise! Check out handy apps like Yoga Download for a number of great workouts from the comfort of your phone. Gaiam is a great yoga gear place that has it all for beginners!
- Find Your Community: Are you fasting for weight loss? Or looking to build body mass? In either case, find your community through websites like Body Builder.
- Talk to a Professional: When in doubt, talk to your doctor or nutritionist for reassuring advice.
Intermittent fasting can be an excellent way to boost your overall health without too much drastic change to your lifestyle. Enjoy all the benefits that eating slightly less can bring to your life.
Looking to promote a healthier lifestyle? Check out our article on the best foods for weight loss. In addition, don’t forget to workout. Our article on the most convenient gym equipment for home workouts is a great way to get started on the fitness track.