Intermittent Fasting Diet: Benefits, Meal Schedule, and Success Tips

Many people aspire to have an ideal body. Of course, there are various ways to achieve an ideal body, ranging from exercising to following a diet program. However, there are also many people who follow diet programs in an inappropriate manner. Currently, there are different diet methods emerging, one of which is intermittent fasting, which involves adapting a fasting period. It's no wonder that several Indonesian celebrities are known to adopt this intermittent fasting diet method, such as Melaney Ricardo, Vicky Shu, and Raditya Dika. It's worth noting that eating patterns with certain time intervals, such as fasting or intermittent fasting, have actually been practiced since ancient times by people all over the world. Fasting has long been known for its benefits. This certainly contributes to the popularity of diets that incorporate fasting patterns, such as intermittent fasting. Here is further explanation about intermittent fasting diet, including eating schedules, which have been summarized from various sources.

What is Intermittent Fasting Diet?

What is intermittent fasting diet? This method is a dieting approach that involves fasting for a specific period of time. The fasting period commonly applied in intermittent fasting programs is 12 to 40 hours.

Intermittent fasting diet differs from other diet methods that require restricting or reducing the consumption of certain foods. This diet method allows you to consume healthy food in normal portions after fasting for a specific period of time. You are also allowed to consume plain water or other calorie-free beverages during the fasting period in intermittent fasting method.

Compared to the term "diet," which usually refers to reducing or restricting food intake, the method of intermittent fasting tends to regulate eating habits. Fasting diets do not dictate what foods should be reduced or consumed, but rather when you should eat and when you should stop eating, also known as "fasting." This healthy diet approach often recommends fasting for 16 hours, but the timing can be determined individually.

For example, you are allowed to eat from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and then continue fasting for the next 16 hours. However, for this diet to be successful, pay attention to portion sizes as well. Just because you have 8 hours to eat anything and as much as you want doesn't mean you should exceed your daily calorie needs for the diet. The 16-hour fasting period is the time your body needs to process food into energy, burn it for fuel, and rest.

Intermittent Fasting Diet Schedule

This fasting method is considered safe to practice as long as you are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Apart from that, intermittent fasting is actually divided into several diet schedules or methods. According to the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, here is one of the intermittent fasting diet schedules.

1. The 16:8 Diet

When you regulate your fasting and eating times. For example, fasting for 16 hours a day and having an 8-hour eating window. This method is the most popular among all.

2. The 5:2 Diet

This method means restricting calories to 500 per day for two days a week, while maintaining a normal eating pattern for the rest of the days. Those who follow this diet consume healthy food in standard amounts for five days and reduce calorie intake for the following two days. During the two fasting days, men generally consume 600 calories and women consume 500 calories. Apart from reducing insulin levels, this method is also believed to improve insulin sensitivity.

3. The 14:10 Diet

This method is similar to the 16:8 method, but the fasting period is 14 hours and the eating period is 10 hours. It is slightly easier than the 16:8 method because of the longer eating window, but it may be less effective for weight loss.

4. Intermittent Fasting

As the name suggests, this diet involves fasting every other day. There are several different versions of this eating pattern. Some opinions allow consuming around 500 calories on fasting days, while others encourage eating less or approaching zero calories on fasting days.

5. Alternate-Day Fasting

This method involves a full 24-hour fast once or twice a week. For example, you can have dinner at 6 p.m. and then fast until 6 p.m. the next day. This eating pattern is done once or twice a week, but not consecutively.

6. Warrior Diet

This diet is very different from others because the majority of the meals are consumed in the evening. The Warrior Diet was created by fitness author Ori Hofmekler. The method involves eating only small portions of fruits and raw vegetables during the day, and then indulging in one large meal in the evening within a 4-hour eating window.

There is no specific research on the Warrior Diet, but since fasting periods still allow for eating, it may be more practical for some people. Unfortunately, the window for consuming heavier meals is very small, and the food is primarily natural and minimally processed.

So, which intermittent fasting schedule is best for weight loss? In short, choose the one that is easiest for you to follow.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Properly implemented intermittent fasting can provide several benefits for overall health, including:

1. Weight Loss

The main benefit of intermittent fasting is its ability to aid in weight loss and reduce excessive fat accumulation in the body. This is because fasting in the intermittent fasting method allows the body to receive fewer calories than usual. As a result, the body will convert stored fat into energy, leading to weight loss.

2. Reducing the Risk of Diabetes

Some individuals experience high blood sugar levels, which can be caused by consuming foods high in sugar or genetic factors. According to Science Direct, intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar levels by 3-6%. With the body producing insulin levels of 20-31%, this can protect against the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. If you are a diabetes patient, it is advisable to consult with a doctor before starting this fasting diet.

3. Maintaining Heart Health

Intermittent fasting can also help you maintain heart health. Fasting during specific time periods (while practicing intermittent fasting) is known to lower levels of bad cholesterol that accumulate in the body. This allows the heart to pump blood optimally, contributing to overall bodily health.

4. Altering Cell, Gene, and Hormone Functions

During fasting, insulin levels decrease, while human growth hormone levels increase. Your cells also initiate important body cell repair processes and modify which genes they require.

5. Enhancing Brain Function

Intermittent fasting can benefit brain health by promoting the growth of new nerve cells and protecting the brain from damage.

6. Improving Sleep Quality

Many individuals who have practiced intermittent fasting report improved sleep quality. This is because this dietary method also regulates the circadian rhythm, which plays a role in determining one's sleep patterns. A regular circadian rhythm makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

7. Preventing Body Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the main responses of the immune system to infections and irritations. By practicing intermittent fasting, you can reduce inflammation in the body. When inflammation occurs, white blood cells work to prevent ongoing infections, often causing redness and warmth in the body, known as fever.

Considering the numerous benefits mentioned above, it makes sense that intermittent fasting can help you lead a better and healthier lifestyle. However, you also need to manage your eating patterns properly. Are you interested in following this diet?

Common Mistakes in Intermittent Fasting

After understanding the benefits of intermittent fasting, it is important to know about the common mistakes people make when practicing intermittent fasting. What are they?

1. Reducing Food Portions

Many people believe that the longer they fast, the quicker they can lose weight. This is a misconception. Intermittent fasting has fixed eating and fasting periods to facilitate calorie burning and overall weight loss.

So, if you reduce your food portions during your eating window, you put your body under extreme pressure to function without sufficient nutrients.

2. Not Sticking to the Diet Plan or Easily Giving Up

This is perhaps one of the common mistakes in any weight management program. Most of us are enthusiastic at the beginning, but then we start to lose discipline after a few days. The body, which has just started adapting to the new diet plan, doesn't have enough time to show optimal results. Remember, sudden changes in eating patterns also have an impact on health.

3. Not Having the Right Meal Plan

If you're a working professional, your fasting type may not be the same as someone with a different daily routine. It's best to consult with an expert to find the intermittent fasting method that suits you.

4. Setting Meal Times Too Late

Also, pay attention to not having meals too late during the eating window. This is related to the circadian rhythm, where the body is designed to eat during the daytime and rest at night. Besides disrupting sleep cycles, eating too late also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

5. Insufficient Water Intake or Dehydration

Remember, hydration is an essential part of intermittent fasting. If you don't drink enough water during the fasting period, it can lead to dehydration. This can result in muscle cramps, headaches, and quick-onset hunger that may tempt you to give up. It can also dampen your motivation and cause you to abandon the fasting window.

6. Consuming Too Many High-Sugar Drinks

This is also an important intermittent fasting mistake to be aware of. While the previous point emphasizes meeting your body's hydration needs during fasting, it doesn't mean you can freely drink any beverage. Avoid consuming high-sugar and high-calorie drinks.

7. Choosing the Wrong Foods During Meals

Another glaring mistake made during intermittent fasting is consuming all kinds of wrong foods during the eating window. For example, eating junk food during the eating window negates the benefits of intermittent fasting and increases weight gain. So, choose a healthy diet menu instead!

8. Not Engaging in Physical Activity

Intermittent fasting cannot guarantee weight loss if you do not exercise properly. Exercise helps burn calories and thus accelerates the weight loss process during intermittent fasting. During intermittent fasting, do not force yourself to engage in heavy exercise. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.

Tips for Following Intermittent Fasting

To smoothly follow intermittent fasting, you can also apply the following tips:

1. Set goals

Before starting intermittent fasting, determine your goals. For example, you may want to lose weight, improve overall health, or enhance metabolic health. Setting goals can help you determine the amount of calories and nutrients you need to consume and choose the most suitable fasting method.

2. Choose the most appropriate method

There are various intermittent fasting methods you can try. Choose a method that aligns with your preferences and can be sustained in the long term. It is recommended to follow the chosen fasting method for a month or longer to assess its effectiveness for you before considering switching to another method. Not everyone is safe to fast, so it's advisable to consult with a doctor if you have any specific health conditions.

3. Understand and Know Your Daily Caloric Needs

There are no strict restrictions on consuming certain foods during fasting diets. However, you still need to pay attention to your daily calorie intake.

To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than your body uses. Conversely, if you want to gain weight, you need to consume more calories than your body uses.

There are several applications that can help you determine your daily caloric needs according to your intermittent fasting goals. It would be better to consult with a nutrition specialist doctor.

4. Plan Your Meals

The next tip for practicing intermittent fasting is to plan your meals for the coming days or weeks. Caloric intake and nutrition should be the primary considerations when creating your meal plan. Planning your meals can help you maintain a consistent calorie intake that aligns with your fasting diet goals.

You can also prepare recipes, ingredients, or snacks based on your planned meals, so you don't need to shop excessively or deviate from your diet plan.

5. Calculate Your Caloric Intake

Intermittent fasting is a diet method that doesn't restrict the amount of calories consumed during the eating window and prioritizes the nutritional value of food. Make sure your calorie intake matches your needs. Additionally, focus on selecting foods with high nutrient content per calorie.

The main side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger. You may also feel weak, and your brain may not function as well as usual. However, these conditions are usually temporary, as it takes time for your body to adapt to the new eating schedule. Generally, fasting is considered safe and beneficial for healthy individuals.

Although intermittent fasting has many benefits, not everyone is suitable for it. Here are some things to consider or consult with a doctor before starting intermittent fasting:

If you are underweight or have a history of eating disorders, it is advisable to consult with a doctor before embarking on a fasting diet.

The same applies if you have diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes requiring insulin medication, issues with blood sugar regulation, low blood pressure, or are taking certain medications.

Intermittent fasting may have side effects on women, such as worsened blood sugar control, weight loss, masculinization, infertility, and cessation of menstruation during fasting.

Women who are planning to conceive or have fertility problems should avoid intermittent fasting unless approved by a doctor.

Intermittent fasting can also be a bad idea if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as these stages require increased nutrient intake for the growth and development of the baby.

Those are some important considerations regarding intermittent fasting and meal schedules that can help you achieve your ideal body. There are many options to choose from in terms of methods and fasting schedules. Be careful not to make the wrong choice, especially if it could negatively impact your health in the future. Additionally, it is important to protect yourself during the dieting period with insurance.

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