Everyone needs a breather from work, yes even your stomach. Prioritising gustatory indulgence, over real hunger, is toxic for your body. That’s why it’s important to take a break and fast at regular intervals. Most weightloss diets involve what to eat or not eat, but with intermittent fasting, time will dictate your eating habits. A new study has proven that intermittent fasting is safe.

Intermittent fasting is efficient for weight-loss. (Pexels)

What is intermittent fasting?

Tracing back to the hunting and gathering days, humans went without food for hours and days as they hunted for their sustenance. Even a decade ago, the pre-internet period witnessed plenty of fun outdoor activities, before the internet revolution glued us to the world inside the tiny screens. Devoid of physical activities, maintaining proper body weight is not easy, beckoning many deadly diseases. But with intermittent fasting, one can stay healthy, lose weight, and improve metabolism rate.

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Intermittent fasting is a dietary fasting pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. Unlike the majority of diets, it does not list any restrictions on the food you consume but focuses more on the time you eat. It is recommended to not consume any junk food (it defeats the entire purpose), during the ‘eating period.’ Only tea, coffee, water, and low-calorie non-alcoholic beverages are allowed during the ‘fasting period’. Intermittent fasting has different subtypes, depending on the fasting schedules, like eating only one to two meals a day, fasting on alternate days, or eating only 8 hours while fasting the rest of the day (also known as the 16/8 method.)

Intermittent fasting benefits

A substantial number of studies have proven the countless benefits of intermittent fasting, the time-restricted eating. Fasting burns the fat reserves and restricts calorie intake, helping in weight loss. It changes hormone levels like dropping insulin levels which contribute to fat burning. It also reduces oxidative stress, a state of low antioxidants with unstable molecules called free radicals. Oxidative stress leads to chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. With intermittent fasting lowering oxidative stress, you live longer when you fast.

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Myths busted

Intermittent fasting appears to be a misunderstood hero, with raised eyebrows still concerned over its consequences. A new study by the University of Illinois Chicago, published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, debunked all the false beliefs. The researchers called them opinions, as they are not backed by any scientific evidence.

  1. Intermittent fasting does not lead to a dysfunctional diet

There’s a popular belief that intermittent fasting develops a poor diet, but the researchers proved that the eating habits more or less stay the same. The consumption of sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, sodium, and caffeine does not change during fasting compared with before a fast. Again, intermittent fasting solely focuses on the time of eating.

2. Intermittent fasting doesn’t develop eating disorders

Researchers didn’t find any cause-effect relationship between fasting and eating disorders. However, they caution individuals with eating disorders to not try intermittent fasting, to avoid worsening their eating disorder. Obese adolescents should also avoid intermittent fasting, as they are at a higher risk of developing eating disorders, as they are often plagued with issues like body dysmorphia.

3. Intermittent fasting won’t cause loss of lean muscles

People lose the same amount of lean mass, regardless of losing weight by dieting or fasting. Resistance training and higher protein consumption prevent the loss of lean muscles.

4. Intermittent fasting doesn’t impact sex hormones

Fasting does not affect either oestrogen or testosterone, despite worries over intermittent fasting reducing libido and damaging fertility.