Should You Be Indulging in a Fasting Diet?

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For anyone looking to lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight), look no further than the increasingly popular practice of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting consists of fasting for long periods of time, and breaking your fast at timed period within your day, or week, to ensure you are consuming the essential level of nutrients that your body needs. This practice is being used to combat against the over-consumption of food that is rampant in today's society.

The New York Times recently published this blog post about intermittent fasting that highlights two types of fasting styles that are growing in popularity:

1. Time-Restricted Feeding

Skip breakfast, skip lunch, and consume all of your daily calories within a six to eight hour window.

2. The 5:2 Fast

Enjoy a zero restriction diet for five days per week, and fast for two days per week (only consuming a maximum of 500 calories).

What are the proposed benefits of intermittent fasting?

"Valter Longo, the director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California, initially studied fasting in mice that showed that two to five days of fasting each month reduced biomarkers for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. The research has since been expanded to people, and scientists saw a similar reduction in disease risk factors."

Engaging in fasting may also prevent disease and premature aging. The reason behind this is that "fasting lowers insulin and another hormone called insulin-like growth factor, or IGF-1, which is linked to cancer and diabetes. Lowering these hormones may slow cell growth and development," which preserves cells and limits disease expansion.

How long does it take to get acclimated to fasting regularly?

The New York times article states that getting acclimated to a fasting diet can take anywhere from two to four weeks.

"Intermittent fasting is like exercise, which causes immediate stress and inflammation, but protects against chronic disease in the long run," and just like exercise, it takes time to build up a tolerance and get acclimated to a fasting routine. After all, it is a new lifestyle habit. 

Is there anything you should be aware of before you start fasting?

Yes—the scientific community has split opinions surrounding fasting, and whether or not it is beneficial for your health.

"Critics say that the science is not yet strong enough to justify widespread recommendations for fasting as a way to lose weight or boost health, and that most of the evidence supporting it comes from animal research. [However], advocates say the body of research on intermittent fasting is growing rapidly and indicates that the health benefits are striking."

Regardless, fasting diets are going in popularity, and there are many different styles to fit your body's many different needs

Diya SenGupta