Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss is one of the most effective ways to beat the metabolic dysfunction in Diabetes, PCOS and Hypothyroidism. It is not a new way of eating or another fancy diet on the block!

Intermittent fasting or IF as it is also called sometimes is the natural way in which humans were programmed to consume food.

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So, what is intermittent fasting? And why there is so much fuss about it recently?

Simply because, we have finally figured out that “fasting” is the best way to melt fat, lose weight and boost our fat metabolism. And it works wonders in the tough cases of people struggling with lifestyle disorders such as Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, PCOS and Hypothyroidism.

Are you ready to explore Intermittent fasting for weight loss?

Well, no harm in giving it a try! You don’t have to spend a dime. You can even save some money by reducing your spending on unnecessary snacks” and in return get bountiful health.

So, what you have to do?

Let’s check it out in this post.

Firstly, let’s go through what intermittent fasting is.

Then, how it helps you to attain health, lose weight and reverse chronic health conditions.

And Lastly, Ayurvedic health tips for fasting that you can apply to make the maximum of your efforts with intermittent fasting for weight loss.

Let’s get started!

Getting into the Right Mindset!

When most people think of fasting, it strikes them as a sort of punishment. They feel like, “Why should I starve myself?”

Fasting is not an impossible task designed to teach monks discipline. It actually comes with lots of benefits.

For example, you can lose weight with intermittent fasting if you need to.

Science has proven it with multiple research works that fasting carries multiple health benefits for your body and mind.

Medical practice has realized the health benefits of fasting even since long before now. People who seek spiritual energies often employ fasting to get better results.

Many-a-times, the reason we shy away from fasting is a mental one. It is a thing of the mind.

In one way or the other, you have practiced fasting before. For example, you might have dinner by 8 pm and go to bed a while after. Throughout the time you were sleeping, you’ve been fasting.

You could even skip breakfast and have your lunch at about 12 noon. In that case, you’ve fasted for 16-whole hours!

So, fasting is not an impossible task.

What does Intermittent Fasting mean?

Intermittent fasting, often abbreviated as IF, is a type of fasting in which you only eat within a certain period each day or week.

Note that this is not a diet, rather it is a pattern of eating. What we’re saying here is this: intermittent fasting is not about what you eat, rather, it is about when you eat.

So, for someone holding this practice, they can choose to eat at certain periods, and then ‘zip-up’ their lips for another period after that, then eat again. They repeat this cycle.

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss | How Does That Happen?

Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to burn fats.

But what makes it so effective? To understand that, we’ll need to understand how intermittent fasting works.

First, with regards to food intake, your body can be in either of two states: the “fed state” or the “fasting state.”

You can easily figure out the meaning from the names. In between, there is an interlude referred to as the post-absorptive state.

1. The Fed State

You are in the fed state when you have just eaten. Your body has enough nutrients to run on as it’s coming from your diet.

The fed state lasts from when you start eating a meal to about 3-5 hours after you have eaten. In that time, your body is said to be in an absorptive state.

That means you are absorbing nutrients from the breakdown of the meal you’ve had.

Insulin levels are high and sugar is being converted for energy.

2. Post-absorptive state

After the 5 hours, you are in the post-absorptive state till 8-12 hours after the meal.

Here you are not absorbing nutrients anymore. Most people would have had another meal by this time.

However, if an individual has still not eaten, the nutrients that have been absorbed from the meal are very much available for use. The stored sugars will be released.

3. The Fasting State (the fat-burning state)

After the 12-hr mark, you have entered into the fasting state. If you still haven’t eaten by this time, then your body will begin to draw on the fat reserves.

So, your body might not really begin to burn fat until you’ve abstained from food for about half a day.

But isn’t that a long time!

That’s what you’re probably thinking right now. We’ll get to that.

The Problem of Eating Constantly!

For most people, it is almost impossible to achieve this fasting state. In fact, with our modern lifestyle, there are very few people that really do.

Why not?

Constant snacking and binge eating!

Throughout the day, you’re working tirelessly and need to top up your energy reserves. So, you resort to snacks and sweets.

Some just want to eat something for the purpose of “jaw-exercise.” But wouldn’t singing or talking or yodeling be a better alternative jaw exercise?

Then comes the night when your body should at least get a chance. But then, you stay up late on some task or on social media, and you have to snack in that period also.

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The truth is that the body doesn’t necessarily need all those calories. When you keep eating like that, the excess will store up and keep accumulating.

Aside from the fact that you won’t be helping your weight loss goals, your body will be kept busy with perpetual digestion. Your digestive organs can quickly wear out under such stress.

And when that happens, it creates all kinds of digestive issues, toxin build up and peripheral health problems.

How does intermittent fasting helps to burn fat?

Are you beginning to get the picture now? Fasting intermittently helps to space out your eating to give your body time to burn off some of the reserves it has.

So, you can see now that when you pick the right type of intermittent fasting and stick to it, it can serve to be a very useful tool to burn fat.

What are the Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

What do you stand to gain when you practice fasting intermittently?

1. You can burn visceral fat and lose weight with intermittent fasting

We’ve established that intermittent fasting is an excellent tool for weight loss.

When you’re fasting, your body is forced to draw on its reserves. Therefore, all those stored fats are broken down and used up.

Fasting affects your hormone functioning, and this can help lead to weight loss. For example, you have less insulin when you’ve not eaten.

Also, short-term fasting increases your metabolic rate. This means that materials are broken down in your body. This can also contribute to weight loss.

Researchers also noted that IF reduced the presence of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which are fats found in the blood that can lead to stroke, heart attack, or heart disease.

This has been proven in many scientific studies.

  • One showed that people can lose up to 3-8% of their weight in 3-24 weeks. That is quite a lot.
  • Another proved that intermittent fasting can cause a 4-7% reduction in weight circumference over 6-24 weeks. This indicates that a lot of dangerous visceral fat was lost in that period. So, you can achieve tremendous weight loss within 6 months or less of intermittent fasting.

2. It affects how your hormones, cells, and genes function

We mentioned insulin in the previous section. When you are out of the fed state, insulin levels drop, facilitating weight loss.

Also, it is in this state that autophagy happens more. This is a process in which old or damaged cells are ‘intentionally’ destroyed by the body. It’s possibly so that proteins and other building blocks can be retrieved and used as nutrients. Cellular repair also happens.

Gene expression can also be affected such that you have better protection against disease and increased longevity.

3. Reduced blood pressure

Practicing IF can help to reduce blood pressure. It has been observed in both animals and humans alike, thus, it is valid.

Several studies have shown this too. There is one thing though: the benefits of reduced blood pressure are only for a short term.

You can enjoy it while you practice intermittent fasting, but then if you stop, the blood pressure-lowering effect goes away also.

4. Improved brain function

Practicing intermittent fasting can help increase concentration and mental acuity.

A possible theory to support this is that, when you eat, blood is diverted to your stomach and digestive organs to aid digestion and absorption.

As a result, there is less blood getting to your brain. You must have noticed you feel groggy after meals. This will definitely not happen when you are fasting, as you will have more blood available to flow to your brain.

IF has also been found to improve connections within the brain and afford protection against age-related brain decline like Alzheimer’s.

5. Reduces insulin resistance and the risk for type-2 diabetes

Diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels. In insulin resistance, the body fights the action of insulin to push sugar into the cells. Thus, the sugar remains in the blood, leading to high blood sugar levels, which could result in diabetes.

Therefore, anything that can help reduce insulin resistance can also help reduce blood sugar levels. And this is exactly one benefit of intermittent fasting.

In human studies on intermittent fasting, fasting blood sugar has been reduced by 3–6% over 8–12 weeks in people with prediabetes. Fasting insulin has been reduced by 20–31%.

6. Improved sleep

When you set yourself to eat at set times, you are also affecting your circadian rhythm. So, intermittent fasting can help regulate your circadian rhythm and sleep better.

With a regulated circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle), you can sleep and wake up without any problem and feel refreshed.

Also, you can time your meals such that you eat at the optimal time before your bedtime. When you take a heavy meal before going to bed, you might put yourself at risk of reflux and some other undesirable conditions.

7. Lower risk of cardiovascular problem

Since you can burn fat with intermittent fasting and lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, etc, you have less risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attacks, atherosclerosis, and so on.

8. Other health benefits include

  • Increased longevity (though this has not been established in humans, it has been shown in mice).
  • Cancer protection
  • Reduced oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
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How to practice intermittent fasting?

So, the numerous benefits attract you? But then you are still thinking about the ‘difficulty’ of fasting, is it?

In that case, it will interest you to know that there are different types of intermittent fasting. You have options, and you can pick the one that bests suits you.

5:2 fasting

This is one of the most popular because it works best for most people.

There are 7 days in a week, so in 5:2 fasting, you eat as you normally would for 5 days in a week, and fast the remaining two.

Now, before you run off, fasting is not absolute. However, for your two fasting days, you restrict your diet to 500-600 calories a day.

Most people find it easier to keep to 5:2 intermittent fasting because they are required to fast only two days a week and are ‘free to do whatever they want for 5 whole days.’

Also, the fasting days are not consecutive. For example, fasting days could be Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The 16/8 method

There are 24 hours in a day, and this has been split into two: 16 hours and 8 hours.

This method involves fasting for 16 hours a day and then restricting your diet to the remaining 8 hours. You could have two meals within those 8 hours, or you could squeeze in three meals.

Remember the instance that was given at the beginning?

You eat your last meal by 8 pm at night, go to sleep, fasting till 12 pm the next day. That way, your 16-hour fast is complete.

Then you have till the next 8 pm to eat. You could still have three meals by taking one by 12 pm, another by 4 pm, and another by 8 pm.

People who routinely skip breakfast will find this one relatively easier. Others might prefer fasting from 5 pm till 9 am the next morning, which might involve skipping dinner or having a very early dinner.

Yet others can do a 14:10 to start with, instead of a 16:8.

The Warrior diet

With this type of fasting, it is more like you fast through the day and feast within a four-hour window at night. Throughout the day, you only eat raw fruits and vegetables and then have a full meal at night.

The 24-hour fast (Eat:Stop:Eat method)

This is an extreme type of fasting. As the name implies, it involves going a full 24-hours without fasting once or twice a week. Some may fast from breakfast to breakfast or from lunch to lunch.

Most people might find it difficult to keep to this. You should not jump in and start with an Eat:Stop:Eat intermittent fasting style, however, And again, it is only done normally once or twice a week. On the remaining days, ensure you have healthy meals.

Alternate day fasting

This means that you fast every other day. You fast today, eat tomorrow, fat the next, and so on.

Some forms of alternate-day fasting permit eating about 500 calories a day. Others require a complete fast.

This can be pretty extreme too and unsustainable in the long run. It is definitely not recommended for beginners.

On the upside (at least for weight loss) it can lead to rapid weight loss since your body will be forced to draw from the reserves very frequently.

Spontaneous meal skipping

You might not realize this, but you practice this every once in a while. Spontaneous meal skipping is a type of intermittent fasting that involves randomly skipping meals.

It is relatively easy and anyone can do it. Here, you don’t have to follow any structured plan and there are fewer restrictions.

You might just skip a meal because you don’t feel particularly hungry, you are not chanced to cook, you’re caught up in a meeting, or you’re on the road and can’t get something to eat, you went to bed too early for dinner or you woke up too late for breakfast. These are great opportunities to practice short fasting.

You should, however, ensure to eat a healthy meal when chanced.

Ayurvedic Health Tips to Make Intermittent Fasting for Weight loss a Success!

Now, you’ve seen the benefits and hopefully, you have found a fasting technique that will suit you best. Now, how do you fast effectively to get the best results and burn off excess fat?

Here are some Ayurvedic tips to support your metabolism and make the most of your efforts of Intermittent for weight loss:

1. Don’t Rush! Ease into it

First-timers might find it a little difficult, so start from short-duration fasts and go up from there. For example, if you want to do 16:8, you can start with 13:11, 14:10, and go on from there.

2. Support Fat Loss with Complex Carbs

Intermittent fasting for weight loss gives the best results when you consume complex carbs in your eating window. This gives you with all necessary ingredients as vitamins, minerals and fibre to build lean muscular mass, burn fat and flush away the toxins safely while fasting.

3. Focus on the Quality of Your Meals

Now that you eat less, focus on the quality of what you eat, not quantity. Focus on nourishing your body with high-quality foods, macronutrients, and hormone balancing meals.

Try not to consume any refined carbs during your eating window. They have a high glycemic index(GI) and can cause blood sugar spikes and keep you craving for more. This can negate the effect of your fasting.

4. Be Flexible!

Allow yourself a compromise when necessary. You shouldn’t miss out enjoying yourself on special occasions because you’re fasting. Also, it helps your mindset to know that you signed up for something of which you are in control.

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Having a right mindset allows for better success rates, lower cravings out of guilt or stress and hence low levels of fake hunger.

5. Exercise in a fasted state

Still perform exercises. You need not burn yourself out, since you are already taking in fewer calories and won’t have much to spare on exercise.

Exercise in a fasted state makes you burn fats. Simply because your body is exhausting its natural sources of energy as glucose and proteins. It sufficiently stimulates your muscles for growth, boosts your metabolism overall and provides you with lots of strength in return.

If you do not exercise or train, then you end up losing the opportunity to shift your metabolism to gain lean muscular mass.

Yet, do make sure to not exercise excessively as it will build up Cortisol and increase stress. So, perform low intensity cardio as walks or do strength training as yoga and weight lifting etc.

Beginner’s Exercise Plan (7 Days) to Lose Body Fat Fast

7 Days Exercise Plan To Lose Belly Fat and Weight Loss-min

Here’s a 1 week exercise plan to get started

DayActivity
1Brisk Walk for 45 mins. Or Clock in 10,000 steps through out the day.
Keep breathing deeply through your nose. Avoid breathing through mouth at all points.
23 X 10 cycles of squats (Go as deep as possible within your comfort zone)
2 X 20 cycles of jumping jacks
5 mins of skipping the rope
2 X 20 cycles of Raising Knees (Try to bring them as high as possible without straining too much)
3Brisk Walk for 45 mins. Or Clock in 10,000 steps through out the day.
Keep breathing deeply through your nose. Avoid breathing through mouth at all points.
4Yoga for 15 mins – Include different yoga poses such as Bridge pose, Churning the mill pose, Cobra pose
4-5 Cycles of Sun Salutation
10 mins of Deep Breathing exercises
510-15 mins of cycling on the mat while keeping your legs raised.
3 X 20 Sets of Flutter Kicks on the mat.
5-10 mins of Head Shining Pranayama
63 X 10 cycles of squats (Go as deep as possible within your comfort zone)
2 X 20 cycles of jumping jacks
5 mins of skipping the rope
2 X 20 cycles of Raising Knees (Try to bring them as high as possible without straining too much)
710 cycles of Sun Salutation Yoga Sequence
5-10 mins of Head Shining Pranayama
2 X 20 cycles of lunges
7 Days Beginner’s Exercise plan to Lose Body Fat

6. Importance of Fibre and Lean Proteins

Make sure you get enough fiber and lean protein. Fibers and proteins fill you up and can keep you satiated for longer and suppress appetite.

Fibre will also bind in the toxins released during fasting and push them out safely from your body.

Protein Foods PCOS Diet-min

7. Stay Hydrated

Take lots of fluids like lemon water, coconut water, herbal teas and plain water. This will help you to boost your circulation, support detoxification during fasting and keep satiated.

8. Motivation and Support

A support group is always helpful to keep up commitment and dedication.

Track and measure your progress. Seeing actual results can keep you motivated to keep going.

9. Do not Fast from 11 AM till 2 PM

This is one of the most important Ayurvedic diet tips that you need to take note of. Your hunger is the strongest during peak afternoon time. And if you keep fasting in this window, it will build up stress and negate your efforts.

On the contrary, if you eat during late evening hours when your hunger levels are low, then you end up slowing your metabolism. So, make sure to keep your fasting window primarily in the evening/night time.

Is intermittent fasting completely safe?

It would be nice to say that IF is completely safe. Well, it is for most of the individuals.

However, if you are struggling with any underlying health conditions or with problems in blood sugar management, then you need to take caution.

Do get your Doctor onboard before you begin Intermittent Fasting for Weight loss. also, here are few things that may happen if you are just beginning with fasting:

  • Hunger and cravings
  • Lightheadedness
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Bad breath might result due to lack of salivary flow and increased acetone from fat breakdown.
  • Malnutrition can result if intermittent fasting is not done properly. For example, if you don’t get enough nutrients in your eating window, it can result in malnutrition. So, focus on the quality of your meals and avoid junk foods.
  • Dehydration can occur, but you can avoid this by taking fluids.
  • It can lead to increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • You might be tempted to indulge in binge eating during your eating window.

You can avoid and overcome most of these effects by practicing IF according to the way it suits your body. Do take guidance from an expert to chart your own personalized IF plan to comfortably adopt fasting for health.

With that said, to avoid these side effects, people who are potentially at risk of the effects should not practice fasting.

Who are those that should avoid intermittent fasting?

  • People with vitiated Vata doshas should avoid it. On the other hand, it is good for those with predominant Kapha.
  • Those struggling with blood sugar management or hypoglycemia need to practice under guidance.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • People who are at risk of eating disorders (e.g. those who have family members with eating disorders.
  • Those who have higher caloric needs, like adolescents who are rapidly growing, teens in puberty, children (they need lots of nutrients for their rapid growth), people who are healing/recovering from illnesses, etc.
  • Immune deficient people.
  • People with dementia

A final Note!

We can reiterate here that if you plan to practice intermittent fasting for weight loss, it is one of the most effective ways.

Before you start, make out your plan, speak with your doctor, contact a dietitian if need be.

Most importantly, selecting a type that will be most convenient for you and that you can sustain in the long run. Consistency is key.

Before you Go!

Intermittent fasting for Weight loss can seem hard and debilitating! However, you should know that fasting is actually the easiest part of permanent weight loss puzzle.

And that when you start to address your diet and lifestyle that cause it in the first place, you can really see improvement in your weight loss journey.

So, get started today! And do share with us in comments on how this post has helped you. Or if you would like more information. We will get back the soonest.

References

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About the Author

Nidhi Bansal

Nidhi is the Founder of Medhya Herbals, a wellness venture that offers natural health solutions for Women. She has set on a mission to solve & simplify women's health care problems with all natural and holistic Ayurveda. Medhya Herbals offers Ayurvedic treatment through 1:1 Doctor consultations, Personalised Diet, Lifestyle and Exercise plans and online learning programmes. Start healing today!

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