Nowadays, everyone of us are aware and feel the need to gear up, make a healthy lifestyle, need to lose weight, go on a diet, not just to look good but also to stay away from illnesses. These are common thoughts which come across our mind. So in the process, we might start skipping meals, go on a crazy diet compromising nutritional value, excessive exercise and so on. Before adopting any method, it is always wise to know our body first, how it functions and what actually are healthy habits. It is important for us to bring out a behavioural change of unnecessary gorging or extra calories intake and keep the daily nutritional level intact. Dieting or cutting down calories can sometime affect greatly the nutritional balance in our body. Therefore, intermittent fasting can be an easy step and wise to cut down extra calories, maintain nutritional balance and yet lose weight with body fat. This method is like having at least three proper meals a day and skipping those habits of snacking, in between meals and so on. This change of timing of meals does help to increase the muscle mass and knock down the subcutaneous fat. Between each meal, there is 4- 6 hours of gap or fasting period which will work wonders. During fasting period between meals make blood insulin level drops which facilitate fat burn out. With insulin drop, other important processes can overtake like level of human growth hormones rises; cell repair escalates so muscle mass gain and genetic expression of cells like immunity against diseases and longevity progresses.
Basically, metabolism is a process which goes on inside our body nonstop twenty four hours a day. The food we eat gives us the energy for the vital processes like respiration, heart pumping, cell repair, urine formation , hair, nail growth and so on. Energy is also required to carry out the various activities we perform in our routine day. Our body has two states - fed state and fasted state. The fed state being the one which starts when we are eating or have just eaten and which may last for another 5 to 6 hours a day. During this stage, the insulin level is high and the absorption of food takes place which build up the glucose for energy. At this stage, the body utilises the energy which is formed and is unable to burn the reserved fat. So the cycle is like the more food we consume, the more glucose formed for energy. So if we lead a sedentary lifestyle, with less activity, the energy utilisation will be minimal. The excess glucose formed gets converted to fat and the fat reservoir will be increased.
Intermittent fasting method is the simplest way by which we can reduce the number of meals in a day. Instead of having 4 - 6 meals, we start taking 3-2 proper meals a day. Apart from wasting time on arranging and cooking meals, practically there are fewer headaches on eating two proper meals a day. For, rest of the day it's either gorging a fruit or drinking fluids, is all that we have to do. So whatever energy produced in our body is utilised fully throughout the day. If more energy is required, the stored fat in the body start metabolizing.
Therefore, the strategy of intermittent fasting can be a simple method without much effort of losing weight and regaining the muscle mass of our body intact. It is a useful tool for maximum utilisation of energy in the form of glucose and also to knock down slowly the reserved fat in the body. Normally, the body weight comprises of bones, muscles, fat, water and so on. So once our body start metabolizing the stored fat, we lose weight in the form of body fat but tend to retain the muscle and bone mass.
Again researches have suggested different pattern of dieting which may work or may not depending on our body mass index. Some suggest like eating 5 to 6 small meals a day while some are suggested to eat on a breakfast king size and reducing the quantity towards the day's end. Small meal's strategy is also commonly suggested because there is no chance of over consuming of extra calories. Nutritionist suggests different strategy customised to meet the different body type and body mass index. Comparatively, of all methods and strategies, intermittent fasting is the easiest and simplest strategy of dieting which is bound to work for all body types. Here, we are eating 2 to 3 meals per day only. So there is a window period of 5 - 6 hours of fasting between each meal. During meal time, the body's response to insulin production is high. Carbohydrate consumed will be metabolised immediately and burned out as energy sources. And during the fasting period between meals, our body has a tendency to look out for another option of energy source instead of the glycogen of muscles or in liver or the blood glucose. Our body start utilising the stored subcutaneous fat as energy option. This is body's normal functional tendency of energy utilisation during the fasting phase. Intermittent dieting simply complies with this body's normal functional tendency of energy use. Therefore, in this way, we lose weight mainly, the body fat mass and not the muscle mass.
Intermittent fasting has different diet strategies. Like lean weight gain (muscle mass gain), where the person go on fasting for 14 to 15 hours a day and the rest 10 to 8 hours, is the feeding time. Another strategy is where the person fast for 24 hours a day in a week and the rest of the days are normal routine days. One strategy is nocturnal large meal a day and rest is fasting for 20 hours each day. In each of this strategy, for the fasting hours, person can have calorie free drinks, fluids etc. Different strategy recommended for different individual depending upon body type, weight, gender and so on. Young people who want to build up muscle mass go for strategies like the nocturnal meal or strictly prolonged period of fasting hours. A normal adult who wants to lead a healthy life, maintain a healthy weight can simply benefit by following a simple strategy of 2- 3 meals a day and the rest of the time, fasting with their daily exercise regime.
Touching on this topic for me is to simply give a picture from a common person perspective who would like to maintain a healthy life style, good health and a healthy weight and not a regime of body building. Normally, a healthy adult male requires around 2500 calories where as a female requires around 2000 calories per day to carry out the daily activities. But the exact requirement of calories for every individual depends on the body weight, size, age, gender and the amount of physical activities that is carried out per day. Again in terms of normal diet, around 60 to 70 percent comprises of carbohydrate and around 30 percent is protein and fat in each meal. To make our diet healthier, we can slowly reduce and replace the percentage of carbohydrate with fibres, minerals and anti oxidants rich food and increase the percentage of protein. Fat percentage obviously should be reduced. Most of us are aware of healthy food like fresh fruits, vegetables rich in fibres, anti oxidants, protein rich food being whole grains, pulses, lean meat, nuts, calcium rich food dairy product with low fat content and so on. So in each meal during the day, we need to increase the portion of protein, fibres, minerals and anti oxidants and reduce the portion of carbohydrate and fat. As for daily physical activities, apart from our daily exercise we need to incorporate as much physical activities as possible.
Therefore, the simplest strategy to lose weight, lose body fat and maintain the muscle mass is 2- 3 healthy meals per day, the rest of the fasting period with calorie free fluids( sugar free drinks), water and lots of physical activities. That's how we are perfectly done with the day. We need to continue with our daily exercise routine and somewhat add more of physical activities if possible. Working people, busy professionals who do not have extra time to devote on specialised diet regime or customised exercise regime can surely benefit from this simple strategy. Leading a healthy life would also keep away or at least keep in check the life style diseases and ensure a better future health.
About Author / Additional Info:
A Medical Professional, enthusiastic in writing articles on health related topics.