Intermittent fasting is a popular lifestyle change that many people around the world follow in order to lose weight and improve their health, it is not a diet plan per se but a daily eating pattern. it acts through calories restriction throughout the day it is also called intermittent energy restriction it can be employed in many different ways by changing the meal timing schedules alternating between voluntary fasting periods of time when you abstain from eating only or eating and drinking and non-fasting periods through which you can consume all types of food without restriction.
History of fasting
Fasting has been around for centuries in many cultures of the world and in different religions over the centuries in a plethora of various forms and practices and for different reasons.
- in Christianity, many people fast and pray as a means to increase spirituality and be more humbled by the presence of God to show obedience and submission to God. It’s not about self-denial.
- Buddhist monks are known to fast from noon till the next morning to learn how to control themselves and quench their human desires and raise their spirits above worldly aspirations
- Hinduism also embraces fasting for days and in many festivals as they believe that sins are forgiven when the body suffers and to direct their souls into spirituality and peace.
- Muslims are obliged to fast during the month of Ramadan as one of the five pillars of Islam and are encouraged to fast on Mondays and Thursdays from sunrise to sunset as a means of getting closer to God and learning moderation and learning to resist temptations and getting to understand how the poor life to encourage giving and empathy towards the needing.
Fasting as a means of losing weight and improving lifestyle has been employed recently in 2013 through the best seller book “the fast diet” by Michael Mosley which made it very popular in Europe and Australia, it describes the benefits of restricting energy intake for two days a week while eating normally through the rest of the week there are many other books with different types of fasting daily patterns and many scientific research papers talking about the importance of fasting and the many health benefits on the body.
A famous Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Mark Mattson who has been studying fasting for years has noticed that people in the past used to have lower obesity rates as they didn’t stay up late like we do in recent days , there were no entertainment options to make them stay up past 10 o’clock so people went to sleep earlier and stopped eating unintentionally ,but now we spend the entire night awake binge-watching shows and playing video games and consuming much food without noticing .in the past also people used to walk more and get out and do various physical activities that kept them fit and on their feet but now especially since the beginning of the covid pandemic people are obligated to stay home and work and learn online which makes them sit for hours and hours without any physical activity which is one of the main reasons for the higher rates of obesity that surged in the past couple of years which increases the risk of chronic disease as hypertension , diabetes and cardiovascular diseases .
Types of intermittent fasting regimens
There are many methods for people to follow intermittent fasting either fasting for somedays through the week and eating the rest of the week freely or fasting for some hours during the day and eating without restrictions in the remaining hours, some people fast from food completely or food and water and some eat very little with a predetermined amount of calorie restriction. Some of the most popular methods are:
1) 16/8 method:
It is one of the most popular methods of intermittent fasting that a lot of people choose to follow over other methods as it is the easiest most straightforward way. it involves fasting for 16 hours and eating for the remaining 8 hours of the day while making sure to skip breakfast so most people eat from the afternoon till about 9 p.m. and sleep for 8 hours then fast for the next 8 hours of the morning .
Another name for this method is (the leangains protocol) this is a very good example of time-restricted feeding protocols as it follows the circadian rhythm that naturally controls the metabolic rate of food which is higher during the day and lower at night. You can drink water, coffee, or tea during the fasting hours to reduce hunger and during the eating hours, you should choose nutritious food with fewer calories and more health benefits.