People are looking to try any means possible to lose weight, as can be seen by the $70.3 billion industry built on diet products and plans. However, there’s a bit of a paradigm shift when it comes to how people lose weight. Whereas before, people were desperate for a single product or system to help their weight loss efforts, science is increasingly showing that losing weight should be treated as a lifestyle change. One of the most drastic changes in this regard is the growing popularity of intermittent fasting. However, this is no fly-by-night trend, as it has some real scientific backing.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
For most people, fasting carries religious connotations, but the idea of intermittent fasting is completely secular. Rather than controlling what you eat, this is more about when you eat, a “dining pattern” of sorts. In general, for a few days a week, those who practice intermittent fasting abstain from eating for a set period of time, generally from 14 to 18 hours. This isn’t as huge of a departure as you may think from normal eating habits. For example, we all go through a fast of sorts, while we sleep. If you were to skip breakfast and eat your first meal at noon, you have a 16 hour-fast. When it comes to any fasting, be sure to discuss it with your doctor or medical professional first, to make sure you are doing so safely.
There are several different methods of intermittent fasting, giving you flexibility for your daily schedule or personal preference. Here are some of the top examples:
The 16/8 Method: This basically entails fasting for 16 hours each day. The example we used before falls into this method, only eating between noon and 8 pm.
The Alternating Method: With this method, you limit yourself to 500 calories a day every other day.
The 5:2 Diet: This combines elements of the other two methods. On two fasting days, you eat 25% of your normal calorie needs, then eat normally for five days of the week.
The Science of Intermittent Fasting
So, how does this all connect to health benefits? One thing to understand is that there are several changes human bodies undergo after not eating for a period of time. These include significant drops of insulin in the blood, as well as increases in blood levels of growth hormone and certain cellular repair processes.1,2
What’s most important to the majority of people trying intermittent fasting, though, is weight loss. There are direct and indirect ways that fasting can contribute to weight loss. One of the major issues for people looking to control their weight is often portion control. Fasting helps here, because people who fast eat less overall. However, all the processes that we mentioned earlier contribute as well, helping to increase the breakdown of body fat. Studies have shown that short-term fasting can actually increase the metabolic rate by 3.6-14%.3 Equally important is the type of weight loss. In one study, intermittent fasting led to a loss of 4-7% of the participants’ waist circumference.4
Along with these benefits, people who are struggling with digestive issues may also want to consider intermittent fasting. When you fast, it gives your body a break from constantly needing to digest, which lowers the amount of time you need to deal with digestive distress symptoms. In addition, by eating less overall, it’s easier to come up with meals that are suited for digestive support.
If you’re looking for added help with your digestive support, it’s a good idea to use digestive supplements, like Enzymedica’s Chewable Digest. Naturally orange flavored and sweetened with sugar-free Xylitol, this combines amylase, lipase, cellulase and protease Enzymes, made with the exclusive Thera-Blend™ process. This supplement helps the stomach break down carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein. Getting added digestive support not only helps with discomfort, but also with absorption of nutrients.