May 26, 2022

go health

A Beginner’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting Rules


Image: Shutterstock

One of the most popular health and fitness trends right now, Intermittent fasting (IF) entails eating only at specific times of the day. It’s a dietary pattern that alternates between fasting and eating intervals, rather than specifying what meals to eat. Fasting for a set number of hours each day or eating only one meal a few times each week can help you lose weight. As a result, it’s more of an eating habit than a traditional diet. This method is frequently used by people to lose weight, improve their health, and simplify their life.

1. What Is Intermittent Fasting?
2. Types Of Intermittent Fasting
3. Intermittent Fasting For Beginners
4. When To Eat
5. What To Eat
6. When To Exercise
7. Don’t Break Your Fast
8. Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting
9. Health Benefits
10. FAQs On Intermittent Fasting

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

Image: Shutterstock

“Many of you may have come across the term intermittent fasting with your friends, relatives, workout buddies, or colleagues as a popular ‘diet to lose weight’. Contrary to popular opinion, intermittent fasting is not a diet, but an eating pattern where a person eats during a certain window in the day and fasts for a longer spell between the meals,” explains Meenakshi Mohanty, Fitness Expert, who says it is not about what to consume and the pattern is focused more on the timings of the consumption. Beyond weight loss, it also prevents illnesses such as diabetes and heart problems, boosts metabolism, and leads to a healthier lifestyle.

Pro Tip: Rather than eating at a restaurant, cook and eat at home.

Types Of Intermittent Fasting

Types Of Intermittent Fasting Infographic

Image: Shutterstock

“While there are many forms of intermittent fasting, the most common ones are eating within six to eight hours in the day and fasting for 18 to 16 hours respectively, where the latter is popularly known as a 16:8 approach. It is best to keep the eating windows in the early hours of the day for maximum health benefits,” feels Mohanty who also explains another pattern of timelines followed by a lot of health enthusiasts.

It is known as the 5:2 approach, wherein a person eats regularly five days of the week but restricts the calorie intake to 500 – 600 on the other two days of the week (usually one meal). Experts feel that fasting on consecutive days is not recommended; instead, space it out with at least two days between fasting days.

Pro Tip: Read nutrition labels to learn about additives like high fructose corn syrup and modified palm oil.

Intermittent Fasting For Beginners

Intermittent Fasting For Beginners

Image: Shutterstock

Intermittent fasting has many proven benefits, but it is always advisable to consult one’s physician before starting any new diet regimen. Children younger than 18 years or pregnant women should avoid following this diet pattern.

“This is especially recommended for first-timers. It is critical to understand what can be eaten in the ‘eating’ periods and what is to be avoided. Further, one should note that this is a lifestyle change and won’t be an overnight process. It is absolutely normal to feel hungry during the fasting periods, in the beginning, taking weeks or even a month for some,” advises Mohanty, who feels once the body gets used to it, the journey becomes a lot less cumbersome and there is a visible positive difference felt by them. “If a person continues to suffer from ill health, they should consult a doctor or dietician before continuing with this approach,” she says.

Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for hidden sweeteners and limit your sodium intake.

When To Eat

When To Eat in Intermittent Fasting

Image: Shutterstock

Depending on one’s time preference, the eating time slots might vary. “Some could eat their meals in a six-hour window or eight. In this case, the person would fast for 18 or 16 hours in the day. Some even eat regular meals five or six times a week with two or one day of fasting, ideally with a gap of two days between each fasting day.

Followers of this pattern should however take note that fasting for long durations at a stretch, like 2 or 3 days, can have more negative repercussions than positive. It is very important to maintain a healthy balance between the time of fasting and eating.

Pro Tip: Fibre, nutritious carbs and fats, and lean proteins should all be present in a meal.

What To Eat

What To Eat in Intermittent Fasting

Image: Shutterstock

“Eating normally during the other periods does not imply munching on high-fat foods. If one fills their meals with high-calorie junk food, super-sized fried foods, and desserts, they’re not going to lose weight or get healthier. Whether practicing intermittent fasting or not, the Mediterranean diet is a fantastic example of what to consume, especially for beginners,” suggests Rinki Kumari, Chief Dietician, Fortis Hospital, Cunningham Road, Bangalore, who says the mainstay of one’s diet becomes choosing complex, unprocessed carbohydrates like whole grains, leafy greens, healthy fats, lean protein, unrefined grains, and healthful vegetables and fruits.

During Intermittent Fasting Chart

Pro Tip: A balanced diet rich in lean protein, vegetable fibers, whole grains, and good fat is considered ideal for meals.

When To Exercise

When To Exercise in Intermittent Fasting

Image: Shutterstock

“While fasting, exercising is usually recommended just after waking up or shortly afterward to maintain the body’s natural circadian rhythm and also as working out or eating too soon to bedtime has been linked to sleep disruptions,” guides Kumari, who says the hormonal benefits of fasting-induced exercise are linked to the depletion of muscle and liver glycogen stores that occurs when fasting. “It’s fine to do cardio while intermittent fasting, but the results will be determined by how fat-adapted one’s body is.

Combining burst training and intermittent fasting for a multi-therapeutic strategy can optimize the benefits of both,” she says. During such fasts, cardio and weight training can be performed, but the performance may suffer slightly, warns the expert. “Unless participating in heavy lifting or endurance exercise, fasting for 2-3 hours after the workout can also help the hormones,” suggests the dietician.

Pro Tip: There are certain beverages that one is permitted to consume within the fasting hours such as water, black tea or coffee, lemon water with no additives, and some detoxifying liquids.

Don’t Break Your Fast

Don't Break Your Fast in Intermittent Fasting

Image: Shutterstock

“It’s important to be mindful of hidden quick breakers. Did you know that even the taste of sugar makes one’s brain release insulin, thereby breaking the fast?” asks Kumari, who suggests some of the unexpected foods, supplements, and products that can stop a fast and trigger an insulin response:

  • Supplements containing maltodextrin and pectin as well as other ingredients.
  • Sugar and fat are found in vitamins such as gummy bear vitamins.
  • Using toothpaste and mouthwash with xylitol as a sweetener.
  • Sugar can be found in the coating of pain medicines like Advil.

Pro Tip: During the fast, one can perform their preferred workout, be it cardio, strength training, a mix of both, or yoga.

Ways To Do Intermittent Fasting

Ways to do Intermittent Fasting

Image: Shutterstock

Intermittent fasting can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but they all revolve around establishing regular eating and fasting schedules. “One could attempt eating only eight hours each day and fasting the rest of the time. Alternatively, two days per week, one could choose to consume only one meal. You can choose from a range of intermittent fasting schedules,” suggests Kumari.

Pro Tip: Try to pursue a hobby in the fasting hours so as to keep the mind occupied positively. Having a cheat day would just throw one off the schedule and disrupt the pre-existing eating pattern.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Image: Shutterstock

Health Benefits

There are immense benefits of intermittent fasting. Overall, weight loss is the most common and primary benefit. “Fasting for short periods improves blood pressure, resting heart rates, and other heart-related parameters. 16-hour fasts result in fat loss while retaining muscular mass in young males. More blood flow to the brain improves cognitive and mental sharpness. The amount of bad cholesterol (LDL) is lowered while the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) is increased,” says Kumari, listing the changes one’s body undergoes during fasting.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Infographic

Human growth hormone levels also surge, perhaps by as much as five-fold. This has several benefits, including fat loss and muscle growth.

  • Insulin sensitivity: Insulin levels drop considerably and make stored body fat more accessible.
  • Cellular repair: When fasting, the cells begin to repair themselves. Autophagy is a cellular process that consumes and eliminates old and faulty proteins that have accumulated within them.
  • Gene expression: Researchers have discovered changes in the function of genes linked to longevity and sickness resistance; illness resistance has also been observed.

Pro Tip: it is advisable to steer clear of food photos, videos, and blogs on social media as it can make one’s resolution weaker.

FAQs On Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting Diets By Specialists

Q. Do And Don’ts During Intermittent Fasting?

A. During intermittent fasting, you cannot consume certain foods. Foods that are calorie-dense and high in sugar, fat, and salt should be avoided. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Q. Can I Eat Pizza While Intermittent Fasting?

A. Intermittent fasting is only an eating practice, not a diet regime but anything calorie-rich that you consume will affect the benefits of the process.

Q. Can I Eat Banana During Intermittent Fasting?

A. By consuming nutrient-rich food, you can round out your diet and reap the benefits of this regimen.

Q. Can We Have Cheat Day In Intermittent Fasting?

A. Allow yourself a maximum of three cheat meals a month as the process of intermittent fasting, in the long run, can get a bit taxing.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel