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Intermittent Fasting: The Ultimate Beginners Guide.

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Traditional diets that restrict calories often fail to work for many people. Traditional diets often lead to yo-yo dieting – an endless cycle of weight loss and gain. Intermittent fasting (IF) is a lifestyle rather than a diet. Unlike other diets, it doesn’t focus on what you’re eating, it focuses on when you should eat. The 16:8 fast involves an eating window of 8 hours followed by 16 hours of extended fasts of up to 48 or 36 hours.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is the cure to obesity that is becoming an increasing problem.

So, it’s no wonder that so many people are looking for a better way to lose weight.

Traditional diets that restrict calories often fail to work for many

people. It’s difficult to follow this type of diet in the long term.

This often leads to yo-yo dieting – an endless cycle of weight loss and gain.

Not only does this often result in mental health issues, but

it can also lead to even more weight gain overall.

Intermittent fasting is different. It is a lifestyle rather than a diet.

It involves eating patterns during which you cycle between

windows of fasting and eating. Unlike other diets, it doesn’t focus

on what you’re eating. Instead, it focuses on when you should eat.

Some dieters enjoy the greater freedom this gives them.

They can eat the foods they enjoy without guilt. Many people also find

that it fits better into their lifestyles. However, there are some

potential pitfalls when it comes to IF for weight loss.

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The Origins of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting as a lifestyle choice is relatively new.

However, the concept of fasting certainly isn’t. There are verses
in the Bible and Koran about fasting for religious purposes.

Many religious people still fast today for religious reasons.

The month of Ramadan remains a time when Muslims refrain from eating
from sun-up to sun-down.

Therefore, it’s easy to see where the idea of intermittent fasting originates.

Even during ancient Greek civilizations, fasting was practised.

Therapeutic fasting became a trend during the 1800s as a way of
preventing or treating poor health.

Carried out under a doctor’s supervision, this type of fasting was adopted to treat many
conditions from hypertension to headaches.

Each fast was tailored to the individual’s needs.

It could be just a day or up to three months.

Although fasting fell out of favor as new medications were
developed, it has recently re-emerged.

In 2019, “intermittent fasting” was one of the most commonly searched terms.
So, what should you know about it?

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The Most Popular Types of Intermittent

There are plenty of different kinds of intermittent fasting.

Each one has its own following.

All follow the same principle of restricting food intake for a certain period of time.

However, the length of the time and the gap between eating windows varies.

Intermitten Fasting 16:8

Perhaps the most popular IF method is the 16:8 fast.

This involves an eating window of 8 hours followed by 16 hours of

Many people find this the most convenient option for them.

If they skip breakfast or dinner, they can fit it easily into
their lifestyle.

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24 Hours

Another popular IF option is the 24-hour fast.

This is sometimes known as the Eat-Stop-Eat method.

It involves eating normally one day than avoiding food for the following 24 hours.

The gaps in between fasts could be as short as 24 hours or up to 72 hours.


The 5:2 fasting method is also popular.

This involves eating normally for five days of the week.

The other two consecutive days, the dieter should restrict their calorie consumption to
around 500-600 calories.

There are several other types of fasting diets. Some people follow

extended fasts of up to 48 or 36 hours. Others fast for even more

extended periods. If you’re considering trying IF, you’ll need to

choose the right method for you.

There are several other types of fasting diets.

Some people follow extended fasts of up to 48 or 36 hours.

Others fast for even more extended periods.

If you’re considering trying IF, you’ll need to
choose the right method for you.

Photo by destiawan nur agustra from Pexels

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There are several benefits that those who follow an intermittent
fasting lifestyle report.

Here, we take a closer look at some of the
most common.

Weight Loss

Many people who do intermittent fasting do so to lose weight

There is evidence to show that this way of eating helps
you to shed pounds more quickly.

There are several reasons why IF helps weight loss.

It enhances the function of the metabolism for faster fat burning.

It also reduces the number of calories you consume in 24 hours.

By lowering insulin levels, increasing growth hormone levels and
increasing norepinephrine, IF speeds up the breakdown of fat.

It also facilitates the use of fat to produce energy.

Fasting for short periods of time has been shown to increase
metabolic rate by up to 14 per cent.

This means you’ll burn more calories.

As a result, IF can help cause weight loss of up to 8
per cent over a period of 3 – 24 weeks.

That’s an impressive loss!

Those who try IF report a reduction of 7 per cent in the
circumference of their waist.

This indicates a loss of belly fat –
the most harmful type of fat that results in disease.

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Repairing Cells

When you fast, your body’s cells begin a process of removing
waste cells. This is known as “autophagy”.

Autophagy involves the body’s cells being broken down.

It also involves the metabolization of dysfunctional and broken proteins
that have built up over time in the cells.

What is the benefit of autophagy?

Well, experts believe that it offers protection from the
development of several diseases.

These include Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer.

Therefore, if you follow an intermittent fasting regime, you may
help to protect yourself from diseases.

As a result, you may live a longer and healthier life.

Insulin Sensitivity

More people than ever before have type 2 diabetes.

The disease is becoming more common
due to increasing obesity.

The primary feature of diabetes is increased
levels of sugar in the
blood due to insulin resistance.

If you can reduce insulin, your blood sugar level should decrease.

This will offer excellent
protection from developing type 2 diabetes.

Intermittent fasting has been proven to have a major benefit
when it comes to insulin resistance.

It can reduce blood sugar
levels by an impressive amount.

In studies into intermittent
fasting with human participants, blood sugar levels decreased by
up to 6 per cent while fasting.

As a result, fasting insulin levels
can reduce by as much as 31 per cent.

This shows that IF could
offer the benefit of reducing the chance of developing diabetes.

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Enhanced Brain Function

When something is good for your body, it’s often good for your
brain too.

Intermittent fasting is known to improve several
metabolic features.

These are vital for good brain health.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce oxidative stress.

It also reduces inflammation and reduces the levels of sugar in
the blood.

Not only that, it reduces insulin resistance as we
showed above.

These are all key factors in enhancing brain

This too offers benefits
when it comes to brain function.

Meanwhile, it also increases the
level of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).

This is a brain hormone,
and if you are deficient in it you may suffer from
brain problems and depression.

When you try intermittent
fasting you will have better protection from these problems.

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Decreased Inflammation

It is known that oxidative stress is a key factor in chronic diseases
as well as ageing.

Oxidative stress involves free radicals which are

unstable molecules reacting with other key molecules such as
DNA and protein.

The result is damage to those molecules that
causes harm to the body.

There have been several studies to prove that IF can help
improve your body’s ability to resist oxidative stress.

Other studies have also shown it can help
to combat inflammation
which also drives many common diseases.

Why Does Intermittent
Fasting Help to Promote Weight

Although intermittent fasting offers many benefits, the greatest
one is weight loss.

Most people who embark on this lifestyle are
hoping to shed pounds and maintain healthy body weight.

So, why does intermittent fasting help
to promote weight loss?

Here, I look at the three main reasons.

Reduced Calorie Intake

The main reason that IF helps to boost weight loss is that you
naturally, eat less.

As long as you don’t eat excessively during your eating window,
you’ll automatically reduce your calorie intake

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Hormonal Changes Boost Metabolism

The human body stores energy in the form of calories in body fat.

If you don’t eat, your body changes a number of things so that
the stored energy can be more accessible.

These changes involve the activity of your nervous system.
They also include major changes in a number of key hormones.

These changes occur in the metabolism when you’re fasting:

Insulin increases every time you eat. If you fast, your insulin
level will dramatically decrease. A lower insulin level
facilitates fat burning.

HGH (Human Growth Hormone) skyrockets when you fast. It
can increase by as much as five times its normal level. Growth
hormone aids muscle gain and fat loss.

Noradrenaline (Norepinephrine) is sent by the nervous
system to your fat cells. This causes them to break down your
body fat. It is turned into free fatty acids. These are then
burned to produce energy.

Reduced Insulin Levels Speed Fat Burning

Insulin is a hormone that is made by your pancreas. Its job is to
convert sugar (glucose) in the blood into energy.

The cells then use that energy as fuel.
Insulin also has another role to play in
the body.

It drives the storage of fat.

The level of insulin in the body will increase whenever you eat.

It also decreases whenever you fast.
The lower level of insulin caused when you fast can
help to prevent excess storage of fat.

It also helps the body to mobilize
the fat that is already stored.

As a result, it can boost your fat
loss and help you lose weight more

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting?

  • Children
  • Diabetics
  • Pregnant Mothers
  • Breastfeeding women.

What are the Side Effects of Intermittent

Intermittent fasting offers many benefits but it has side effects
too. These may affect each individual differently.

Some of the effects you might experience include:

  • Feeling grumpy, irritable and grouchy due to hunger
  • Experiencing brain fog or excessive fatigue
  • Obsessing about how much you can eat or what you can eat
  • Persistent dizziness, headaches or nausea due to low blood
  • sugar
  • Hair loss due to a lack of nutrients
  • Menstrual cycle changes due to rapid weight loss
  • Constipation due to a lack of fiber, protein, vitamins or fluid
  • The potential for developing an eating disorder
  • Sleep disturbances
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Now you know the benefits and possible problems associated
with intermittent fasting.

If you’re ready to try it yourself, this
article should tell you everything you need to know to get started.

I practice fasting every Monday and Thursday and also fasting the bright days as recommended by our Prophet Muhammad peace and blessing be upon him.

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