What Is Intermittent Fasting

By sidranoreen

alarm clock on a dinner plate

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating process that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. It doesn’t describe which foods you should and when you should eat them. In this respect, it is not a diet but more accurately described as an eating pattern.

Intermittent fasting methods include daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week. Intermittent fasting has become one of the world’s most popular trends for health and fitness.

People are using intermittent fasting to lose weight, improve health, and to simplify their lifestyle. Many types of research show that it can have powerful effects on your body’s brain and even can help you to live longer.

Intermittent Fasting Methods

There are many different ways of intermittent fasting. They all involve splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods.

During the fasting periods, people eat very little or nothing at all. The following are the most common methods of intermittent fasting.

1 – The 16/8 Method

This method is also known as the lean gains protocol and involves skipping the breakfast and limiting your daily eating period to 8 hours, such as 1–9 p.m. This method implies fasting for 16 hours.

2 – Eat-Stop-Eat

This method necessitates fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week. For instance, stop eating from one-day dinner to the next day dinner.

3 – The 5:2 Diet

In this method, you can use only 500–600 calories for two non-consecutive days of the week but eat ordinarily in the rest five days of the week.

These methods will reduce your calorie intake and hence cause loss weight loss as long as you don’t compensate by eating much more during the eating periods. The most widely used method is the 16/8 method as this method is also too easy and simple for reducing weight.

blood, blood plasma, red blood cells

Effects On Cells And Hormones

When you fast many things occur in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, your body sets hormone levels to make stored body fat more in use. Body cells also start important repair processes and change the appearance of genes.

There are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:

Human Growth Hormone (HGH)

Fasting leads to a considerable increase in HGH levels. The level of growth hormone is increased as much as 5 fold. This is beneficial for fat loss and muscle gain.


It Improves insulin sensitivity and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more usable.

Cellular repair

During fasting, your body cells start cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old proteins that are built-up inside the cell.

Health Benefits

  • Lose Weight and body fat
  • Reduce insulin resistance
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce risk factors for heart diseases
  • Prevent from cancer
  • Increase age
  • Improve brain health

Possible Side-Effects

Hunger is the leading side effect of intermittent fasting. When you feel weak then your brain can not properly function. These side effects may be temporary, as it can take some time to adjust your body to a new meal schedule.

This can cause the following health problems

  • Headaches
  • Low Energy
  • Irritability
  • Heartburn, Bloating
  • Overeating
  • Feeling cold
  • Bathroom Trips
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

The Bottom Line

Intermittent fasting is a weight-loss tool used by many people, though it doesn’t work for everyone. Some observations show that it may not be as beneficial for women as for men. It is also not recommended for people who have eating disorders.

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