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Intermittent means starting and stopping or occurring after a particular time. Fasting simply means abstinence from food for a period of time. Fasting is an ancient tradition that has been practised by many cultures and religion over time.
Therefore, intermittent fasting is an eating plan that switches between abstaining from food and eating on a regular schedule. It is also a period whereby one restricts his or her energy consumption for various meal timing that cycle between his or her willingness to fast for a given period.
It comes in different types or methods such as fasting for 12hours each day by only eating between 7 am and 7 pm, 16 hours each day by only eating between noon and 8 pm, once or twice a week and not eating anything from dinner till the next day (a 24hr fast) and during 2 days of the week, eating only about 500 to 600 calories.
Over the years, intermittent fasting has become the most popular health trend which, as a result, has gathered much interest and attention from people, and has already become part of their lives. People embark on it for many reasons, such as; personal, spiritual, religious, or probably because they don’t have access to food. Scientific research has also proven that intermittent fasting can be beneficial to our health in weight loss, metabolic health, ageing, increased insulin sensitivity, improved cholesterol.
This trend also exists both in religious and cultural practices such as Ramadan for Muslims, Lenting season for Christians, Vrata for Hinduism, Yom Kippur for Judaism among many others.
In Christian practice, intermittent fasting may require that certain foods should be abstained from for that period. Muslims during Ramadan abstain from foods, drinking any liquids, smoking cigarettes, engaging in any sexual activity from dawn to sunset. Every religion has its own reasons which are peculiar to them and also serve as part of their own identity.
Generally, individuals embark on this for health reason, weight loss, ageing benefit, and metabolic health reason. Abstaining from certain foods while fasting helps to modify the risk factors for health conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases such as lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Fasting for a short period helps people to lose weight, helping in strengthening the fitness level of people, especially those suffering from obesity.
As regards ageing, it helps in making the body more efficient at breaking down nutrients and in the burning of calories, slowing down the degradation of DNA, as this majorly occurs or found in ageing men and women. Despite the adverse effects it may have, its human benefits cannot be overemphasised.
Going without food especially carbohydrates for a certain period in a country full of hunger and poverty can pose a daunting and difficult task when starting, however, embarking on Intermittent Fasting has a lot of benefits to gain from in the areas of improving our health condition, weight loss, brain health, and increasing insulin sensitivity. It has proven to become a viable tool that makes us stay healthy, strong and fit.
How do you maximise the benefits?
1. Hydration is one of the best methods to keep your body at peak levels. It is also so during intermittent fasting. Be sure to drink lots of water and calorie-free drinks.
2. Take a deep breath, and take your mind off the next meal. Find the time to engage yourself with an activity that encourages rest such as watching your favourite films, meditation or yoga.
3. We know you want to engage in this, and it has taken a lot of will to do this. So, why not make each calorie (low-calorie) count? Eat meals that are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. You don’t want to become nutrient-deficient while this is on. Also, remember to see that it is filling.
Caution should be exercised when people who have medical conditions such as low blood sugar or malabsorption decide to engage in any form of intermittent fasting. In fact, it is best to consult a medical practitioner.