We seem to be getting so much information about fasting with all its popularity on the internet. But, more than just a fad, fasting has been practiced since the olden days for various reasons including religious and health. Hippocrates would recommend fasting to his patients. While some religions practice fasting as part of the practice of their faith.

But what really is intermittent fasting?

Unlike other diets where one would normally watch their daily food intake, intermittent fasting is abstinence from eating in a certain period, depending on the eating pattern one prefers. There are two states in intermittent fasting – the fed, where you eat and the fasted state, where you do not eat.

The objective of these patterns is to restrict calorie intake. During the fed state, you are encouraged to stay hydrated and choose high-fiber foods like fruits, whole grains, healthy fats such as avocado and nuts and seeds.

While we know that it is hard to not crave unhealthy foods , being well-informed helps us overcome unhealthy habits. So here are three of the most popular intermittent fasting or IF patterns you should know:

1. The 5:2 Diet – This pattern is also known as the Fast diet, where you would eat normally for five days a week and fast for the remaining two days. But the fasting days should be separated by one normal eating day. The recommended diet is for women to have 500 calories and for men to get 600 calories during the fast days.

2. The Alternate-Day Fast – This is probably the simplest fasting to understand, but the hardest to do. You will completely fast on fasting day and alternate.

3. The Leangains, aka 16/8 fasting – This pattern involves not eating breakfast while limiting the eating period to only 8 hours a day, say you are only allowed to eat between 1 pm to 9 pm and fast for the 16 hours, hence the term “16/8.” Some say the 16/8 is the easiest to follow among the intermittent fasting patterns.

Should you give it a go?

Intermittent fasting shows promising trends. Some studies say that intermittent fasting does help in reducing weight. But the most recent study shows that IF could help in increasing the survival rate after a cardiac catheterization, which is a procedure in diagnosing and treating people with cardiovascular conditions.

However, the red flags on fasting are still around and it particularly points to the possible difficulty of the sustainability of IF because of the implications of fasting on hunger and the drive of the person to feel satisfied. One quick reminder is that people with special concerns
including those who are taking medications or pregnant or breastfeeding should always discuss fasting with their physicians first before doing it.

Our choices matter. It is important to watch what we do and what we eat . Fad diets may come and go, but sticking to a healthier lifestyle is a commitment we should make. So that if we are torn whether to grab an acai bowl or chocolate puffs, we always know what to choose.