Intermittent Fasting: Does It Work and Is It Healthy?

Intermittent fasting, although not new, has recently been gaining increasing popularity as a diet plan for weight loss. Intermittent fasting can be approached a variety of ways and benefits can exceed beyond just weight loss. The question is, however, is intermittent fasting right for you?

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is just a blanket term for fasting on and off for short periods of time. Rather than fast for 1 month, for example, and then break the fast for good, intermittent fasting will have you fasting on alternate days or weeks of the month.

Fasting does not always mean starving or not eating anything. In some intermittent fasting plans, calories are restricted rather than completely avoided.

Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Individuals are typically attracted to this type of diet because of the weight loss benefits, however, many advocates claim benefits beyond just losing weight.

  • Insulin levels drop, facilitating fat burning
  • Induces important cellular repair processes, including elimination of waste from cells
  • Increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn more calories
  • Potentially decreases blood sugar levels and insulin resistance (particularly in men)
  • Reduces oxidative stress on the body from free radicals
  • Helps fight inflammation
  • Improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Increases growth of new nerve cells
  • Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Intermittent Fasting Guide

Intermittent fasting can be done several different ways, but there are a few commonly preferred methods.

The 5:2 Plan

On the 5:2 plan, also known as the Fast Diet, individuals eat normally five days a week and consume fewer than 500-600 calories the other two days of the week. Women are encouraged to eat 500 calories on the fasting days, while it’s suggested for men to consume 600 calories. The fasting days do not have to be right after each other but can occur spread out, for instance on Monday and Thursday.

In this version of intermittent fasting, individuals shouldn’t be eating junk food or binging during the five days of the week in which they are not fasting. Instead, individuals can simply carry out those days without having to restrict the number of calories they’re consuming.

24-Hour Fast

With the 24-hour fast, all food and beverages (except coffee and water) are to be avoided for 24 hours, about once or twice a week. For instance, if the individual ate dinner at 7 pm on Monday night, they wouldn’t eat or drink anything until 7 pm on Tuesday night.

Alternate Days

If this method is chosen, the individual will eat normally one day, then the next day he/she will fast, meaning eat fewer than 500-600 calories. This alternating regimen is repeated for the rest of the week. Using an alternate day fasting plan is similar to a 24-hour fast, but calories are not completely eliminated on fasting days, just reduced. The alternate day plan is also practiced more frequently throughout the week than the 24-hour fast.

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

Any major changes in diet can be unsettling for the body, even if there may be benefits down the road. That’s why it’s always important to carefully consider any existing or past health conditions that may be affected by adopting one of the intermittent fasting methods.

Many people have found success with intermittent fasting, including weight loss and improved health. That said, it is also believed that intermittent fasting may not be as productive for women as it is for men and that intermittent fasting can be potentially dangerous for people who suffer from eating disorders.

Overall, intermittent fasting is not a new concept and is generally safe. The effectiveness of the diet plan, however, is questionable as many in the dietary and medical field believe that it’s not a suitable, long-term solution. Fasting is incredibly difficult for most individuals and requires participants to maintain healthy eating habits on their normal eating days, rather than binge or eat whatever they want.

If you’re considering intermittent fasting, please consult your physician to ensure it’s the right option for you and your individual concerns.


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Born and raised in Southern California, Beeta has embraced a healthy lifestyle focused on farm-to-table cooking, natural products, and wellness routines. When she's not writing up recipes or discussing the latest natural living trends, Beeta enjoys spending time trying new restaurants, traveling with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her furry companion.