Right now, most of us are confined to home, struggling with stress, anxiety and quite a bit of boredom. It can be very easy to repeatedly check out the fridge, pantry or secret cookie stash. But being confined doesn’t mean we have to stop healthy practices, and one way to do that is with intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is the practice of eating and then fasting within specific perimeters. Methods can range from fasting during certain times of the day, fasting on alternate days, or restricting calories on specific days each week.
Fasting Has Benefits
Studies indicate that fasting not only helps with weight loss, but can also reduce blood pressure, help with inflammation and promote brain health. Some research also indicates that it puts our bodies into ketosis, a metabolic state in which fat is burned as fuel for the body, a result of limiting glucose. While ketosis is usually associated with low-carb diets, intermittent fasting is thought to generate ketosis as well.
There are a several different types of fasts that can work within a wide range of lifestyles, and most can be tailored to fit individual daily routines. Check out these variations and see which one might be right for you:
Also called the Fast Diet, the 5:2 plan involves eating normally five days a week, then restricting yourself to 500-600 calories on the other two days. People who use this method try to either eat two 250 calorie meals on fasting days, or one 500 calorie meal. During the other five days, it is recommended to eat normally, but reasonably, as overeating or binging can defeat the purpose of the fast.
Eat, Stop, Eat, Fasting
The “eat, stop, eat” method of fasting is exactly what it sounds like; you eat normally one to two days and then fast for 24 hours in between. Fasting for that long might sound difficult, but if you start your fast after dinner one evening, then don’t eat until dinner the following evening, you’ll have gotten in a full 24 hours of fasting without feeling too deprived. Most people will eat normally for two days, then fast for one day, or eat normally five days a week and fast the other two.
Probably one of the most commonly used fasts, the 16/8 plan means that you only eat during a certain time frame, usually during an 8-hour window, and fast for the remaining 16 hours. You can choose to eat early in the day, say from 7:00am – 3:00pm, or later, such as eating from 12:00pm – 7:00pm. The flexibility of this plan makes it popular, and eating during an 8-hour window means you’ll still be able to eat fairly normally.
No matter what kind of fast you try, intermittent fasting not only optimizes physical health, it also keeps you on a schedule of sorts, which is an important component to mental health. Keeping body and mind healthy during these trying times is crucial, and intermittent fasting might just help you stay on track.
Jody Ellis is a freelance writer who specializes in beauty, health, travel, fashion and style. Her work has appeared in publications such as LennyLetter, Huffington Post, BBC Future Planet, Civil Eats and Eater.