Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular over the past couple years as an effective way to lose weight, increase energy, improve heart health, and boost brain function. Despite what it sounds like, intermittent fasting does not require you to starve yourself for a month; rather, this diet model is designed to give the body a break from food in order to focus its energy on cleansing, as opposed to digesting.
The body is filled with cell structures and proteins that continually die, which isn’t a bad thing. This natural occurrence happens in order to maintain overall bodily health. Problems arise when the body cannot efficiently eliminate these dead tissues. A build-up of these dead tissues can inhibit healthy organ function and can lead to the formation of cancerous tissue. What happens next is a process known as autophagy.
Autophagy, to put it simply, is the body’s way of identifying damaged parts of cells or unused proteins as harmful substances. Once this message is received, the immune system begins to neutralize these “threats,” a form of cellular cleansing. If autophagy cannot happen, however, then dead cells and proteins accumulate, leading to chronic inflammation. Intermittent fasting has become one of the most effective ways to stimulate autophagy.
Types Of Intermittent Fasting
People can choose from a few different schedules when they begin the fasting diet. The takeaway is that there will be alternating periods of caloric restriction and regular food intake on a consistent basis. When you do eat the idea is not to overindulge; rather, the goal should be to maintain portion control and eat a balanced diet. The three most common types of intermittent fasting are as follows:
Alternate Day Fasting
This involves fasting for a 24-hour period and then eating as needed during the next 24 hours. You shouldn’t be inhaling all the food in sight; rather, you should eat until you feel content, not stuffed to the gills.
Whole Day Fasting
This schedule will involve fasting for one to two days (or very low calorie intake during that time), and the remaining days of the week will require eating 1,500-2,000 calories a day.
This is the most common type of intermittent fasting, which calls for a fasting period of about 16 hours and a feeding period of eight hours.
What Can You Drink?
With a general understanding of intermittent fasting, you may be wondering what you can drink during your fast? The obvious and best choice is filtered water. We place emphasis on hydrating because drinking water helps to curb hunger, and this helps you resist the urge to grab whatever food is in sight. Water helps to regulate body temperature, lubricate joints, and keep the digestive system running smoothly. Additionally, water helps carry oxygen to cells throughout the body, and assists with eliminating toxins and waste.
Carbonated water is acceptable to drink on occasion during your intermittent fast, but you must be a diligent label reader. A lot of companies create carbonated water with hints of lime, grapefruit, blackberry, or other natural flavors. These are not acceptable because they can contain added sugars or artificial colors/flavors. It’s best to opt for true sparkling water that is free of added sweeteners and flavors. A great option is to add fresh fruit to sparkling water, similar to making detox waters, to diversify the flavor of your bubbly beverage.
When people develop coughs or colds, they become tea aficionados, drinking every concoction to soothe irritation and promote decongestion. Well, intermittent fasters develop a similar affinity for tea because it is acceptable to drink during a fast, so long as they remain unsweetened. That means that you cannot use honey, agave, sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, or stevia. The reason behind not adding sweeteners is because sugars act as carbs, which contribute to weight gain and fat storage, both of which you are trying to avoid during an intermittent fast. It can be beneficial to drink green tea to help boost weight loss and suppress appetite. Try to avoid black teas and remain in the realm of green or herbal tea varieties, some of which promote probiotic balance and cellular detoxification.
Coffee is a low calorie beverage, but so many people add dairy products, sugar, or artificially sweetened creamers to coffee, making it an unhealthy, high-calorie beverage. A cup of unsweetened black coffee is acceptable on occasion during an intermittent fast, but make sure not to go overboard. Due to the limited caloric intake, drinking a lot of coffee can leave you feeling anxious, jittery, and unable to function. Additionally, too much coffee can affect your sleep cycle.
What To Avoid
“Zero-calorie” beverages, diet sodas, and any sugary beverages should be avoided at all times. The sugars in most beverages digest quickly, spiking blood sugar levels and leaving you craving more. The average American consumes an excess amount of sugar from beverages, and the body cannot burn it fast enough. Leftover sugar is stored as fat, and this can result in fluctuating energy levels.