By Nico Strydom
Fasting is nothing new and many people do it for religious convictions.
Intermittent fasting is currently very popular as a diet trend. There are different forms of intermittent fasting, but the overall idea is that you eat normally for a few days and then drastically limit your calorie intake on other days.
Some of the forms of intermittent fasting entail that you do not eat for a period of between 24 and 36 hours. Research has found that if you skip some meals it could also have health benefits such as weight loss and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Normally your pancreas secretes the hormone insulin after you have eaten. It helps to transport sugar from your blood to your cells so that it can be used for energy. The sugar remaining in your muscles is metabolised and stored in your fat cells. When you fast, your insulin levels drop and your body burns fat for energy.
However, there also are experts who are not in favour of intermittent fasting. These experts claim that your body is disconnected from the natural feelings of hunger and satisfaction. The body has its own internal clock that is affected by various factors and determines when we should feel hungry.
It can take a while to get used to intermittent fasting. In the beginning you will probably get very hungry, but most people get used to it after two weeks and with time it could help you control your appetite.
One of the ways to dampen the hunger pains during fasting, is to drink more water. Some people also get headaches when they don’t eat and the extra fluid could help for that.
A few forms of intermittent fasting
Fasting on alternate days: This is one of the most intensive forms. For one day you eat and drink nothing, just water or non-caloric beverages, and the next day you basically eat just what you want to.
Modified alternate-day fasting: In this case one alternates between one day on which only about 500 calories are eaten, followed by normal eating the next day.
The 5:2 diet: This entails that you eat normally for five days of the week, followed by less than 500 calories for the other two days.
The fasting-mimicking diet: For a few days you follow a very-low-carb diet and then return to a normal diet.
The time-restricted diet: This means that you eat only within certain hours of the day and fast for the rest of the time. For instance, you eat all your meals between 10:00 and 18:00, fasting for the rest of the time.