Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular over the last decade. And intermittent fasting rules have become a must know in many diet circles. These days, many health and fitness gurus recommend it for lasting nutritional success.
But, what is intermittent fasting? More importantly, what are the intermittent fasting rules? Are there any benefits to this nutritional approach?
What Is Intermittent Fasting? (The Intermittent Fasting Rules)
Despite what you might have heard, intermittent fasting is not a diet but an eating pattern. It doesn’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat, but instead tells you when to eat and when not to eat.
RULE #1: 16:8 SCHEDULE
The most popular fasting protocol is the 16:8 – fast for sixteen hours every day, and eat your daily meals inside an eight-hour window. For example, skip eating in the morning, have your first meal at 1 or 2 PM, and your last at 8 or 9 PM. Voila, you’ve fasted successfully, and you’ve complied with the most basic intermittent fasting rules. (1)
It is advised that women do not fast as long as men, and should be more the 14 to 15 hour fast range (as opposed to 16 hours).
The 16:8 diet is often the preferred fasting schedule, for those who have tried the 12-hour fast, but not seen desired results.
RULE #2: EAT HEALTHY
During your 8 hour eating window, it’s important to eat healthy food. And also to maintain control over your calories.
So you can eat during this 8 hour window, but you just don’t want to overdo it. And most importantly, you want the food to be healthy and nutritious (not junk food). This is always important for health and energy, but it’s magnified during intermittent fasting as your body has less time to fulfill its nutritional requirements.
RULE #3: LIQUIDS ARE ALLOWED
During your 16 hour fasting window, you can freely consume the following liquids:
- Zero-calorie drinks
You want to make sure you drink plenty of water. Hydration is always important, but is especially important during intermittent fasting.
Water is an excellent natural cleanse that flushes your system, and has many other health benefits as well.
What Benefits Does Intermittent Fasting Offer?
Some research suggests that intermittent fasting can help us live longer and lower our risk of various ailments. The primary reason is, fasting allows the body to carry out a process called autophagy. In essence, the body cleans itself of toxins, dead cells, and similar. (2)
Doing so regularly should, in theory, boost our health.
But, it’s important to point out that most of the research in the area was carried out on animals (rodents, to be specific). How applicable the results are to us is still in question. (3)
Besides this, intermittent fasting is beneficial because it simplifies our day. Instead of worrying about what to eat as soon as you wake up, you have several hours where you don’t have to think about food.
Similarly, fasting can help you reduce your caloric intake. By having your daily meals inside a shorter eating window, you get to enjoy fewer but larger and more satisfying meals. As a result, you can feel fuller and more fulfilled while eating fewer calories.
What Makes Intermittent Fasting So Popular? Does It Work Better Than Normal Eating?
Several famous fitness folks played a significant role in intermittent fasting’s rise in popularity. Most notably, Brad Pilon, Martin Berkhan, and Greg O’Gallagher. (4)
They did a great job of marketing intermittent fasting as the go-to solution for nutritional complexity and weight loss problems. They also marketed fasting as the best way to remain lean year-round.
These proposed benefits helped intermittent fasting gain a lot of attention and thousands of people today use this protocol to improve their health and body composition.
Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Intermittent fasting rules dictate that we don’t eat for long periods each day. While that might seem unsustainable at first, it tends to be easy not to eat while fasting than to control yourself once you’ve had your first meal of the day.
This is great if your primary goal is to control your caloric intake. As a result, most people find it easier to eat fewer calories and feel more satisfied with their nutrition. In that sense, intermittent fasting works better than a typical eating pattern.
But, if you want to eat more food and possibly gain weight, intermittent fasting might not be such a good idea. Since you eat your day’s calories in a shorter window, you might find it challenging to eat all of the food you need to gain weight. In such a case, following a more common eating pattern might work better.
Who Benefits the Most
It depends on your situation, preferences, and immediate goals. Intermittent fasting rules are pretty straightforward, but determining whether it is a good fit for you might require a test run.
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1) Streit, L. (2021, December 17). 16/8 intermittent fasting: Meal plan, benefits, and more. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/16-8-intermittent-fasting
3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010, July 29). Rodents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/rodents/index.html
4) Manchild_Unbound. (2019, August 29). Notable! – leangains and kinobody: A case study of two fitness gurus. The Fastlane Entrepreneur Forum. https://www.thefastlaneforum.com/community/threads/leangains-and-kinobody-a-case-study-of-two-fitness-gurus.82507/