Time-restricted feeding, also known as intermittent fasting, refers to eating only during a certain period of time in the day. Most people eat 3-6 meals throughout the day that is spread out over a long period of time.
The period of fasting for every intermittent fasting type will vary and yet will be longer than the usual overnight fast time of 8-12 hours. Many had had positive results from this type of eating, especially in regards to weight loss and blood sugar regulation.
Types of intermittent fasting
- 6/8 protocol: This is where you take your food between noon and 8 pm, skipping your breakfast, essentially fasting for about 16 hours.
- 24-hour protocol: As you can infer from the name you are fasting for 24 hours in this protocol. So you would be skipping two meals, say you take dinner on one day at 8 pm and do not have anything until the next day dinner at 8 pm.
- The Warrior Diet: The name is derived from the fact that this is generally followed by warriors who are under training. They fast for about 20 hours every day with only one meal in the night. You can have some protein or fresh juice, raw fruits, and vegetables during the fasting period if you want.
- Alternate day fasting: In this case, you will not be starving on the alternate days but you will be taking 1/5th of the calories you take on the other day. For instance, if you have 2000 calories on a day, the next day you should take about 400-500 calories only.
How do you follow this?
The intermittent fasting is a very simple process where you consume the calories required for the day during a certain time period.
In case you are looking to lose some weight and improve fitness using this method then you should look at increasing the fasting period even further.
To give an example, let us say you typically start your day with breakfast at 8 am and finish your day with dinner at 9 pm. Then it means you have your calorie intake during this 13 hour period.
In case of intermittent fasting, you would ideally be skipping some meals.
- Which is the best window or meal to skip?
There is no concrete or scientific evidence of which is the best eating window one should skip. However, quite a few people go for the 6-10 hours every day.
- Will it result in low-calorie consumption?
It depends on the type of food you intake. While for some it will be lesser calories, for some people who indulge in high-calorie foods, reducing the eating window will not result in low-calorie consumption.
What is the concept of “6 small meals” as quoted by several health books?
Like every process, your body requires calories to burn the meal that you have just ingested.
Irrespective of when and how you consume your calories, the body will take the same amount of calories to burn the food. For instance, 2000 calories consumed during a particular time or throughout the day will require the same number of calories to process.
Why is intermittent fasting a better option?
- Helps achieve your goals. When you are fasting, you are inevitably reducing the number of calories you intake over a period of time. And over the longer period, this helps in reduction of weight and helps you to stay fit.
- Easy to cook/ prepare. When you are skipping meals, you don’t have to make food for those times nor is it required of you to pack your food. You only have to keep the food for the eating window you decide to eat in.
- Saving time and money. Since you would not be preparing so many meals in a day, you are not just saving effort but you are inevitably saving time in preparation of the food and also the money involved in making it.
Relation between weight loss and time restricted feeding
Several Studies conducted on groups of overweight and normal weight people show that when their eating window is restricted to 7-12 hours, they go through a weight loss of about 5% in a period of 2 to 4 weeks.
Losing weight with the intermittent fasting is dependent on the calorie you eat during the restricted eating window. Consuming lower calories during this period will definitely help.
In case following the intermittent fasting helps you to restrict the number of calories then you will definitely lose weight over a period of time.
However, if your calorie intake is not changing with the restricted feeding then you would not be making much of a progress in weight loss.