Everyone has heard the tried and true methods for losing weight – eat healthy and exercise more. While those methods remain true, a new alternative is starting to take form – intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting does not entail you that cut out food altogether; it simply means restricting your calorie intake for a short period of time. Specifically, we advocate for the 5:2 plan, which requires you to eat normally for 5 days, and reduce your calorie intake to ¼ your normal amount (about 600 calories for men, 500 calories for women) for 2 days. This plan, along with drinking plenty of water and tea, has been shown to not only help you lose weight, but also help you enjoy a wide range of health benefits, including increased cognitive function, improved immune system, lower oxidative stress, improved digestive function, and better protection from disease.
Intermittent fasting causes your body to enhance its immune system by purging damaged, white blood cells (during fasting) and replacing them with new, healthier cells (when you begin eating), sending your body into stem cell-based regeneration. Simply put, intermittent fasting essentially hits your body’s “reset button.” For those of you that excessively consume sugar and other unhealthy foods, this fasting technique can effectively normalize insulin and leptin hormones, while also improving blood markers, like IGF-1, glucose and cholesterol. As a result, many proponents of intermittent fasting enjoy increased lifespan and longevity, anti-aging benefits, fewer cravings, and an overall healthier feeling.
In order to maximize the benefits of intermittent fasting, there are three general guidelines to follow:
- Be careful of beverages – When you are watching what you consume, food is not the only source of calories. Juices, sodas, coffee, smoothies, and alcohol may contain additional calories and sugar that can impact your daily caloric intake.
- Awareness on non-fasting days – Make sure you eat normally during non-fasting days. Try not to overeat or binge on unhealthy, processed foods and desserts.
- Add to your fasting – If you are enjoying results from the 5:2 plan, you might want to try a 4:3 plan (4 days of normal eating, three days of intermittent fasting) to further assist your weight loss and/or full body wellness goals.
Remember, if your goal is optimal health, what you eat on the non-fasting days is just as important as the act of fasting. A high-quality diet full of nutrient-rich fresh fruits and vegetables, and with minimal junk food and processed food will allow you to feel empowered and achieve maximum results.