Be aware: this is only the goal of this diet, not necessarily its outcome. Results vary from person to person. Consult your doctor or dietician before starting this (or any other) diet.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern in which you alternate between fasting and eating in (variable) time intervals. It limits the time in which you are allowed to eat, but has no rules on what to eat.
On the homepage you can compare this diet with other diets.
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Intermittent fasting is based on the idea that the human body can cope well with periods without food, because in the past (and still today) people did not always have access to food.
If you decide to do intermittent fasting you can start by thinking about how long you would like to fast. Some people fast for 14 hours, others for more than 24 hours. This depends very much on what fits their life and their bodies best. It is possible, for example, to skip breakfast. In this example you eat from 12:00 to 20:00. The rest of the day, a total of 16 hours, is reserved for fasting.
During the fasting window you are not allowed to eat anything. You are, however, allowed drink tea, coffee and water.
After a meal, you can rely on the energy you have absorbed for a while. How long depends on many factors. For example, how active you are at that moment.
The assumption here is that you can make use of the energy you have absorbed for about 8-12 hours after your last meal. After this time you should start to burn off (more) reserves. The idea is that this can help you lose weight.
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As described in the TRF diet (a variant of intermittent fasting), this diet is all about when you eat, not about what you eat. Hence, you are allowed to eat and drink anything you want, as long as it is outside your fasting period.
It is important to note that intermittent fasting is different from religious fasting. Religious fasting is about abstinence for spiritual reasons. This can be abstinence of food, but also abstinence of e.g. smoking, drinking and sex.
Intermittent fasting by itself has no spiritual aspects and only focusses on abstinence of food for certain periods of time.
Consult your doctor or dietician before starting this (or any other) diet, especially if you have diabetes or bowel problems.
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Many books have been written on intermittent fasting. We've listed some paid ad links from amazon and ebooks for you below:
Besides the books, there have also been a lot of podcasts on intermittent fasting. For example the series by Gin Stephens from Fast. Feast. Repeat (paid link). as listed above: Fast. Feast. Repeat. Intermittent Fasting For Life (paid link):
Several diets use intermitted fasting. Some are variants in which you fast for a set period, like the 4:3 diet, the 5:2 fasting diet and the 8-hour diet (or the dr. Ludidi fasting method that combines the last two).
There is also a diet in which you try to make your body think you are fasting: the Fasting mimicking diet.
This page has been checked, and warnings have been added by, Jolande, dietician. Read more here.
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As you see fit
Intermittent fasting is a trendy diet currently touted mostly on sports forums. However, it is not recommended by (sports) dieticians. I wouldn't call it a real diet either, more a way of cutting down on calories. That this sounds attractive and can lead to weight loss I do understand; less intake potentially means weight loss. On the other hand, at some point the body gets used to the shorter period anyway, so you start choosing food with more calories out of instinct. Furthermore, skipping meals can lead to your body using its own substances, such as your muscles, to make up for the shortfall in the morning. What you then eat in excess in the evening, you convert back into fats. Such choices can also cause a disturbance in the regulation of hunger and, in the worst case, lead to overeating later on. Also, the sudden intake of your first meal causes a spike in blood sugar levels, and your stomach and intestines suddenly have to work very hard to digest everything. This can lead to drowsiness. In diabetics, the chances of a hyper followed by a hypo can become increased.
I tried 24-hour fasting once. It's a bit crazy, but doable. The next day, I wasn't hungry at all either.