Whether you're in the best shape of your life, or you're trying to meet certain health and fitness goals, you've probably done some Googling to find the best ways to get the mind and body of your dreams.
And in your search, you've probably come across the process of intermittent fasting.
But there are definitely a few things you need to know before you start.
Intermittent fasting is different for everyone.
The general concept of intermittent fasting works like this: you eat almost whatever you want for a certain period of time, and then for a given amount of time you try not to consume anything other than water, tea, black coffee and other non-caloric liquids.
It sounds pretty simple, but there are actually a few different types of intermittent fasting to choose from.
Of course, everyone is different. So it's important you choose a plan that best fits your needs, your lifestyle, and your goals.
But if you're ready to dive right in, here are five different types of intermittent fasting that have become increasingly popular over the years.
The '5:2' fast allots five days for eating and two days for restriction.
The 5:2 intermittent fasting diet works by allotting you five days a week to eat whatever you want, and restricting your diet for two days to 500 calories or less, according to Healthline.
These two days of fasting don't have to be one right after the other but are instead intermixed throughout the week to give your body time to recover. But on the non-fasting days, you're encouraged to eat how you normally eat.
Healthline reported that the 5:2 diet may have several impressive health benefits, including weight loss, reduced insulin resistance and decreased inflammation.
The '16/8' method allows you to eat during an eight hour window.
The 16/8 diet is a daily fasting routine that requires you to eat during an eight-hour window during the day while fasting for 16 hours. This includes the time you sleep - so you don't have to worry about that negatively impacting your day, according to Women's Health Magazine.
The time frame varies depending on the person. Some people fast for 14 and eat for 10 - play around with it for yourself. But experts say you can fit in two to three small meals throughout your allotted eating time and still get the benefits whether you fast for 14 or 16 hours.
For many, this is the easiest way to fast as it doesn't take too much effort or planning.
The 'Eat/Stop/Eat' method puts a full day of fasting between days of eating.
This type of intermittent fasting is a full day of fasting in between days of eating. So essentially, you eat normally for one 24-hour period, and then for the next, you fast. You should be doing this once or twice a week.
You can do this from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch, or dinner to dinner - whatever works for your body.
But on the days you fast it's recommended that you don't eat anything other than non-caloric liquids.
The "alternate-day" fasting strategy is more intense.
Alternate-day fasting is a more extreme form of intermittent fasting. It's like eat/stop/eat only its more of a routine, daily occurrence. You fast for one day, and then the next you eat, and then you fast again like clockwork.
Some experts say you can eat 500 calories worth of food on the fasting days, but some participants choose not to.
Healthline reported that alternate-day fasting may "reduce waist circumference, decrease blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol and decrease blood triglycerides".
This is probably one of the most unsustainable forms of intermittent fasting and isn't recommended for long-term use due to the fact that you will likely be uncomfortable and hungry most of the week.
'The Warrior Diet' is flexible.
The Warrior Diet is another extreme form of intermittent fasting but comes with a bit more flexibility in the eyes of some participants.
With this form, you fast for about 20 hours a day, eating only raw fruits and vegetables as well as drinking non-caloric liquids. And then at the end of the day, within a four-hour window, you eat a big meal, according to Healthline.
This has become extremely popular thanks to fitness expert Ori Hofmekler and is based on a paleo diet overall.
Intermittent fasting can lead to an increased metabolism.
When you participate in intermittent fasting, your metabolism sees a spike - and this isn't just short term.
A study done by the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Queen's Medical Centrtermittent in the UK found that fasting can improve your metabolic rate by an average of 3.6 percent.
This method can help you lose fat.
A 2016 study by The Journal Of Translational Medicine showed that eight weeks of intermittent fasting led to more fat loss than those in the control group.
So fasting every once and a whole for an eight-week period at least could offer similar, fat blasting benefits.
Intermittent fasting can help you fight off diseases.
But it's not just the benefits on your weight that make an impact. A 2007 study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alternate-day fasting led to the prevention of ailments like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
It increased insulin production levels and boosted certain hormones that led to a better disease-fighting body overall.
It can promote cell growth.
A 2010 study found that intermittent fasting might represent a simple, safe and inexpensive means to promote a potentially therapeutic neuronal response, autophagy, which promotes survival of cells in metabolic distress.
Intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation.
A major problem people run into is increased harmful inflammation - but intermittent fasting can actually reduce harmful inflammation, according to a 2007 study.
This method can lead to brain-boosting potential.
A study done in 2000 found that intermittent fasting can increase nerve cell growth and increase the production of certain brain hormones that can help alleviate symptoms of depression and increase brain function.
Who doesn't want to be a little bit happier, right?
Some studies suggest intermittent fasting can lead to a longer lifespan.
A study performed on rats showed that fasting for a few days or every other day led to a longer lifespan than with rats that weren't fasting. That means that fasting for a few hours or days could potential tack on days to your life.
These are just a few of the exciting benefits that intermittent fasting has to offer. But of course, it's important to know what works and what doesn't for your body. What matters is health - so if you try this out and it doesn't work, there's nothing to be ashamed about.
Everyone's body works in their own way. But for some, intermittent fasting might be an efficient and easy plan to practice that can help them reach those hard-to-achieve health goals.
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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