Over the years, many different diets have filtered their way through the media and through households, only to die off when they inevitably don’t work or become too hard to follow. In the age of dieting, weight loss, and healthy lifestyle goals, there’s one weight loss plan that’s been buzzing lately—intermittent fasting.
But, why is intermittent fasting supposed to be better than the weight loss plans preceding it? Simply put, intermittent fasting causes effects on the body that no other diet can. It forces the body to run more efficiently and become more protective of itself.
Here are some reasons why intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular diet plan out there:
1. Available Variations
A lot of the diets that are ‘on the market’ have one method that’s expected to be followed in order to yield great results. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, offers different methods that can be tailored to different lifestyles or preferences. Two of the most popular methods, while there are even more, are the 16:8 and 5:2 methods.
The 16:8 method is when fasting lasts for a 16-hour period, wherein all that’s consumed is unsweetened beverages, like black coffee, tea, or water. After the 16 hours of fasting, the last eight hours are reserved for eating.
The 5:2 method, on the other hand, is a little different—this method allows for five days of eating and, then, 2 days of 24-hour fasting.
2. Less Rules
As with any diet, intermittent fasting does require a healthy diet if you’re looking for maximum results. However, what’s more important than diet itself when fasting is the time you’re eating. A lot of diets are full of restrictions, such as the following:
- Keto: cuts back carbs, like soda, sugar, breads, etc.
- Paleo: cuts out processed foods, grains, dairy, legumes, etc.
- Vegetarian: cuts out meat
- Raw food: restricts cereal, bottled condiments, crackers, cheese, processed foods in general
As you can see, all of these diets include foods that you absolutely cannot eat, and, more than that, there’s no room for sugary foods or processed foods. Fasting is different because there’s some space to indulge during eating windows, plus there are no foods that are meant to be cut out entirely. More than that, calories don’t need to be restricted.
3. Reduced Appetite
Since studies have shown that meal timing can impact appetite, intermittent fasting has the upper hand for that reason as well. By controlling the times of your meal and keeping those times on a schedule, appetite is lowered, which automatically helps reduce calorie intake. This natural lowering of calorie intake helps burn fat that’s stored in your body.
A study done by The Obesity Society found that meal timing, as done in intermittent fasting, affects your 24-hour energy metabolism, which is the process of nutrients being turned into energy.
4. Improved Fat Burning
As mentioned above, intermittent fasting affects your 24-hour energy metabolism. And, what does this do exactly? Well, it results in fat burning. When meals are coordinated on a schedule, it not only helps reduce appetite, but it also helps improve metabolic health, which, in turn, aids the body to burn more fat on average.
With intermittent fasting, you’re controlling when meals are eaten, and this control serves to improve the body’s ability to switch from burning carbohydrates to create energy to burning fat to create the same kind of energy. Such a process is referred to as metabolic flexibility.
5. More Health Benefits Beyond Weight Loss
Possibly, one of the biggest differences between intermittent fasting and other diets is that it can improve your overall health, not just the amount of weight that’s lost. Some conditions that have shown improvement after fasting include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Obesity-related diseases
- Sleep apnea
Intermittent fasting can improve these conditions because fasting stabilizes blood sugar levels, controls inflammation, improves resistance to stress, as well as improves resting heart rate, brain health, and memory.
When fasting, the body burns first through glucose that’s stored in the liver. As fasting continues beyond 10 to 12 hours, the liver’s energy stores are depleted and the body can begin to use fat stored in the body for energy. This process is referred to as metabolic switching, and a common three-meals-a-day eating plan doesn’t allow this process to occur.
However, since intermittent fasting does allow metabolic switching to occur, the above health benefits can occur.
So, if it’s more than weight loss you’re looking for, and you desire flexibility without restrictions, an intermittent fasting diet plan may be what’s best for you.
Whether you’re fed up with diets not working or haven’t tried too many yet, intermittent fasting is a great place to start because there’s no huge diet change that must happen. Simply choose which variation of fasting you’d like to try, and plan the week ahead accordingly.