The 8 Best Diet Plans — Intermittent fasting

The 8 Best Diet Plans — Sustainability, Weight Loss, and More
Intermittent fasting


Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.

Various forms exist, including the 16/8 method, which involves limiting your calorie intake to 8 hours per day, and the 5:2 method, which restricts your daily calorie intake to 500–600 calories twice per week.





How it works: Intermittent fasting restricts the time you’re allowed to eat, which is a simple way to reduce your calorie intake. This can lead to weight loss — unless you compensate by eating too much food during allowed eating periods.

Weight loss: In a review of studies, intermittent fasting was shown to cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which is a significantly greater percentage than other methods (2Trusted Source).



The same review showed that this way of eating may reduce waist circumference by 4–7%, which is a marker for harmful belly fat (2Trusted Source).

Other studies found that intermittent fasting can increase fat burning while preserving muscle mass, which can improve metabolism (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).

Other benefits: Intermittent fasting has been linked to anti-aging effects, increased insulin sensitivity, improved brain health, reduced inflammation, and many other benefits (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Downsides: In general, intermittent fasting is safe for most healthy adults.


That said, those sensitive to drops in their blood sugar levels, such as some people with diabetes, low weight, or an eating disorder, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women, should talk to a health professional before starting intermittent fasting.


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Overall health benefits of intermittent fasting

  • Weight loss: IF can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories.
  • Insulin resistance: IF can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3 – 6% and fasting insulin levels by 20 – 31%. This should protect against type 2 diabetes.
  • Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases.
  • Heart health: IF may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. These are all risk factors for heart disease.
  • Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.
  • Brain health: IF increases a brain hormone called BDNF, and may aid the growth of new nerve cells. It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
  •     Anti-aging: IF can extend lifespan in rats. Studies showed that fasted rats live as much as 36 – 83% longer.

Safety and side effects of intermittent fasting

Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting. You may also feel weak and that your brain isn’t performing as well as you’re used to. This may only be temporary, as it can take some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule. If you have a medical condition, you should consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting.

IF has an outstanding safety profile. There is nothing “dangerous” about not eating for a while if you are healthy and well nourished overall.

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