How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent fasting is a weight loss technique. There are different variations of this, such as alternate day fasting, where you don't eat for an entire day of the week, or every other day feeding, where you alternate between two different days, one is a fasting day, while the other is an eating day.

Let's look at some of the most common intermittent fasting patterns before we talk about how fasting works:

  • Fasting throughout the night until lunch (approximately 18 hours without food)
  • Four-hour breaks (very common in the low carb diet I follow)
  • Three meals a day only (breakfast, lunch, dinner - approximately 6 hours without food each)
  • Alternate day fasting (one out of seven days without food)
  • Every other day feeding (one day of fasting, one day of feeding, again and again)
  • Islamic fasting (during Ramadan, eating and drinking is only allowed at night)
  • Extreme fasting (several days in a row without eating)

How does intermittent fasting work?

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Intermittent fasting is quite simple and straightforward. All you have to do is not to eat at all for a certain amount of time that you decide for. The best way to start out, if you haven't tried fasting before, is to begin in the morning. Your metabolism is still very slow, and the blood sugar level is very balanced after not dealing with food for the whole night. Once you start in the morning, you can even mentally add the hours of last night for your fasting - thus, you can say that you already started fasting right after dinner.

Now, see how long you can deal without having any food. The true meaning of hunger may, at some point even become evident to you. Most of us don't really know what hunger is any more, or we get it confused with cravings.

If you can't really keep up your fasting efforts for long, it is okay to stop and not suffer. You can try again another time, perhaps the next day. Try not to eat too much food, instead act as if your meal was just one of several usual meals throughout the day. That way, you can use fasting as a technique for weight loss.

What are possible health risks?

The usual advice at this point is that you consult a doctor before you start. I will give you the same advice, although I personally believe that nothing special has to be considered when fasting. When you consider that most muslims not only do without food but also without water during daytime for several weeks of the year, it seems quite clear that it's something any normal person could get used to, especially when drinking is allowed.

Of course, if there is some form of underlying disease present, you should be careful. Fasting is probably not for people with diabetes, heart conditions or any other cardiovascular problems. Pregnant women, children and teenagers should also try to avoid fasting for the sake of growth.

If you ever have any doubts coming up while fasting or get a feeling that something is wrong, please don't try to play the hero. There are safer methods to lose weight, and you also need to consider that a low carb or no carb diet yields the same benefits as real fasting, with the advantage of not having to lose muscle tissue to a high degree.

How can you use intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting, if applied for one weekend, for example, is a great way to reset any possible cravings and to start a low carb or no carb diet with a turbo boost. Once you have felt the despair of people without food, you will be more than glad to eat dietary meals, because they are better than nothing at all. Read more here: Fasting To Lose Weight and How To Skip Or Postpone Meals.
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