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The Beginners Guide to Intermittent Fasting: Benefits, Types and Tips

Intermittent fasting is a daily fast that involves abstaining from eating for a particular period of time. It allows the body to use its stored up energy thereby burning off excess body fat. An intermittent fast is not a diet but rather a way of eating. It changes the 'how and when' you eat. The major aim or benefit of intermittent fasting is weight loss but it can take up to 4 weeks to notice any results. However, if you’re also concerned about your overall health and lifespan, then you might consider embarking on this fast. 

Intermittent fasting is also practiced in religions across the world and this includes Ramadan (currently ongoing), lent and Buddhist fasting. So If you thought fasting was done solely for religious reasons then you might be in for a surprise. Fasting has been practiced throughout human history. 

Ramadan fasting is similar to intermittent fasting by not eating or drinking from dawn until sunset while allowing food intake in the morning before dawn and in the evening after dusk. Research on the health of Muslims during Ramadan shows a weight loss of up to 2 kilograms which was regained within about two weeks after. This concluded that Ramadan provides an opportunity to lose weight, but consistent lifestyle amendments are necessary to achieve long-lasting results.  

Hence, you might ask, “Why would anyone fast every day especially when it is not Ramadan or lent season?” “What are the benefits anyway and why are people now so keyed into it?” This article will briefly explain all you need to know about intermittent fast and much more? 
A bowl of cereal and a chocolate drink


Fasting periods are generally known as a period to cleanse, purify and detoxify for normally health or spiritual reasons. In addition to this, these are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting such as: 

1. Weight loss 

2. Better health 

3. Reduction in the risk of some disease 

4. Increased longevity - restricting calories is a way of lengthening life. When you starve your body finds a way to extend life and this leads to a longer life span 

5. Is easier than a normal diet 

6. Subjects quickly adapt to the fast - start by doing it once a week until you graduate to daily 

7. Increased fat burning 

8. Low blood insulin and sugar level 

9. Increased energy 

10. Reduction of inflammation 


We have 3 categories of intermittent fasting. They are majorly, 

1. Alternate days fast 

For example, you would eat dinner on Monday night and then not eat again until Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, you eat all day and then start the 24-hour fast again after dinner on Wednesday evening.

2. Periodic fast 

Periodic fasting or whole-day fasting involves any period of consecutive fasting of more than 24 hours, such as the 5:2 diet where there are one or two fast days per week, to the more extreme version with several days or weeks of fasting.

3. Time-restricted fast 

Time-restricted feeding involves eating only during a certain number of hours each day. Skipping a meal and the 16:8 diet. One review found similarities between Ramadan and time-restricted feeding, with the main dissimilarity being the disallowance of water drinking with Islamic fasting.

There are many ways to carry out the above listed fast. Let’s explore some of them 

12 hours fast 
This is ideal for beginners. The way I see it, we unconsciously fast every day. When we take our dinner at 8pm in the night and have breakfast at 8am the next morning, we’ve gone through a 12 hour fast. 

This is called the leangains method. It doesn’t matter what time you start your fasting. It could be 8pm – 12 noon or 6pm – 10 am. But you must consume your meals within an 8-hour window and avoid food for the remaining 16 hours. 

Fasting for 2 days a week 
As the method implies, this fast requires you to fast on a 500 calories diet two days in a week. 

Skipping one meal a day 
Probably the easiest to partake considering that most people skip meals without necessarily considering it as a fast. 

Warrior diet 
This is a very extreme form of I.F. Eating window is 4 hours. 

Since individuals will experience different results they should try the various fasting types to see which one is suitable. You may need to experiment to find the best eating window for your meals so do whatever works for you. It is advisable to avoid unhealthy foods while fasting.


· Exercise just before the eating window 

· Take lots of water to avoid dehydration 

· Drink calorie-free drinks like coffee, green tea and water 

· Practice clean and nutritious eating and avoid junk food 

· Avoid rigorous exercise 

· Eat high-fiber foods 


Just like all things of this world, intermittent fasting also has its side effects, or should I say demerits. 
The fast is : 

  • Unsuitable for pregnant, nursing mothers and underweight individuals. 
  • Not recommended for children and people with an eating disorder 
  • Not ideal for women trying to conceive. 
  • This can lead to overeating as a result of hunger.
In summary, intermittent might be one of the most effective dietary interventions for weight loss and optimum health that has been neglected for a while. So now that you know more about intermittent fasting, have you decided what type of fast you want to embark on? Share your thoughts. 

And until then, take care of yourself.

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