The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting Can Improve Your Quality of Life

WRITTEN BY Steve Smith

Intermittent fasting is about fixing how often you eat, not what you eat. The practice is not for everyone, but the benefits of intermittent fasting far outweigh the drawbacks. In addition to healthy eating habits, when you eat plays a huge role in your quality of life.

Food plays an essential role in your life. It provides your body with the energy and nourishment needed to flourish in your life. But people have a complicated relationship with food and it can be difficult for people to change that relationship. As with waking up early and incorporating exercise such as yoga into your life, intermittent fasting has the power to change you.

What is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is all about framing when you can eat based on a schedule determined by you. In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is when you don’t eat any calories for a period of time. You then get a specific window to consume eat and get those calories. After that window ends, you then go back to fasting. You get to determine which type of intermittent fasting you want to incorporate into your life and what window works best for you.

During your fasting period, it is vital not to consume calories, as it will break your fast. You can have water or zero-calorie fluids like coffee or tea. It has to be clean fluids, as many zero-calorie drinks contain other ingredients that will break your fast. So stay away from zero-calorie drinks like diet sodas and juices.

During your eating window, you can eat whatever you want. I suggest staying away from sugar and incorporating healthy habits into your diet. But intermittent fasting isn’t about limiting what you can eat, just when you are allowed to eat.

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4 Types of Intermittent Fasting

1. Time-Restricted

This is the most popular type of fast and offers the most flexibility. You set a fasting time of 12 hours or more and anything outside of that range is your eating window. The most common way is to fast for 16 hours and have an 8-hour eating window.

You will see this type referred to as the 16/8 method. The number before the “/” denotes your fasting length. The number after is how many hours you can eat for the day. This is my preferred method of fasting. My eating window is from 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm and I will fast anytime outside of that.

2. 5:2

This method will have you fast all day, twice a week. You get 5 days to eat a regular, healthy diet. On the other 2 days, you are allowed no more than 500 calories for the day. The only other rule here is that your fasting days can not be consecutive days, there must be at least a day in between them.

3. 24-hour

This is the most extreme type of fast and has you fasting for a full 24 hours. No calories and no food once or twice a week. Due to potential side effects, I would suggest choosing another option and slowly working your way to this method. Going from eating every couple of hours to nothing for a day can leave you fatigued, irritable, and fighting headaches. You should be eating your normal healthy diet on non-fasting days.

4. Alternate Day

This method has you fasting every other day and on non-fasting days, eating your normal, healthy diet. Depending on your comfort level, fasting days can be set to either 500-calorie or 0-calorie days.

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Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Research has shown that there are many benefits of intermittent fasting that can greatly improve your health and your quality of life. Evidence-based on this research has shown that consistent intermittent fasting can:

  • Help lose weight and visceral fat – This is the particular harmful found located around your abdomen. By restricting when you can eat, you are more than likely going to eat fewer calories during the day. Combined with healthy eating habits, you are poised to lose 3 – 8% of your body weight over 3 – 24 weeks.
  • Decrease your risk of diabetes – Eating all day long keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels high. Your body runs off this energy and can never burn any of its stored energy. When you fast, your body will swap to burning fat, burning through what your body has stored. This will level your insulin dependence and lower your risk for diabetes.
  • Lead to better heart health – When you had the previous two benefits of intermittent fasting, you get better heart health. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and inflammatory markers.
  • Eliminate brain fog – Eating throughout the day creates constant spikes and dips of blood sugar that wreak havoc on your ability to think clearly. When your body uses fat as energy, you eliminate the roller coaster ride of blood sugar levels, allowing you to think clearly all day long.
  • Reduce inflammation – Inflammation can cause all kinds of issues including quite a few autoimmune diseases. Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which can potentially ease some inflammation-related symptoms.
  • Improve sleep – By restricting your diet to a specific window, you are most likely eliminating your after-dinner snack. Your body will get a rest period during your fast, as well as a better circadian rhythm, which will allow you to get a more peaceful night’s sleep.

Drawbacks to Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting are great, but what are the drawbacks of all of this? Well, there are a few and you should have all the facts before starting down this road.

  • Over-Eating – Restricting your calories may cause some individuals to over-eat during their eating window. Fasting does make it more difficult to do this because you only have so long to eat, but if you aren’t paying attention, it can easily be done. Eating healthy is not about mindlessly consuming calories, so pay attention to what you eat and portion sizes.
  • Side Effects – We touched on them before, but there are some potential side effects of intermittent fasting. While your body is getting used to eating this way, you may feel fatigued, irritable, lethargic, and battle some headaches. If the side effects persist, or are severe, discontinue fasting and speak to your doctor.
  • Social Situations – Depending on your window of choice, you may be put in situations where you will have to choose between breaking your fast or eating with friends and family.
  • Criticism From Others – Those around you may not understand the facts or science around the benefits of intermittent fasting. You may find yourself having to explain it over and over again when people see you going without meals.
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Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting

There are certain types of people who should avoid intermittent fasting altogether. If you fall into this category, stay away from intermittent fasting. At the very least, speak to your doctor before trying it.

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Anyone under the age of 18
  • People with a history of eating disorders
  • People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes

There are many benefits of intermittent fasting, but there are many ways to eat healthily and lead a healthy lifestyle. Intermittent fasting can work wonders for your body, but it is not for everyone. Grow the Good Life is about finding what works for you and sustaining it for the long haul.

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