What Is Intermittent Fasting?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 04 January 2020
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Intermittent fasting involves eating normally for a period of time and then fasting for a specified period. For example, a person who engages in intermittent fasting may eat normally for a 24-hour period, basically consuming whatever he wants. For the following 24-hour period, however, he may fast, drinking only water. Some people wonder whether this process is safe or healthy, while others, claim that it is a good way to lose weight, improve overall health, and perhaps even add years to one’s lifespan.

Some people may think only of deprivation when they consider intermittent fasting. This is only partially true. On fasting days, a person who tries this may only consume water and nothing else. On eating days, however, the individual may eat basically whatever he feels like eating. He doesn’t have to deny himself things that most people avoid when on a diet. If he wants a big slice of cake or other fattening foods, he can eat them with no problem.

There are different ways to engage in this type of fasting. A person who wants to try it doesn’t have to stick to the day on-day off method. An individual may employ any schedule that combines periods of eating with periods of fasting. For example, some people eat only once per day. On this schedule, a person may have a window of a few hours each day to eat. He may not consume anything but water at other times of the day.


While this type of fasting may sound like an off-the-wall idea for those new to the concept, some scientific studies have produced encouraging results. Some animals studies, for example, have produced evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting may lengthen life span. Other studies have shown that intermittent fasting may help to keep glucose levels under control and reduce asthma symptoms. It may even help to improve heart and brain function. In human studies, this type of fasting has been shown to have potential for lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of chronic disease; more studies are needed, however, before scientists can be certain of its benefits and risks.

As with most weight loss methods, there are arguments both for and against intermittent fasting. A person interested in this process may have a difficult time deciding which advice he should follow. In such a case, an individual may do well to speak with his doctor. A doctor can explain the risks and benefits of this type of fasting and help the patient decide based on his unique health status. The advice of a nutritionist may prove helpful as well.


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