By Reem Abdulrahman Jassim al-Muftah
Ramadan is over but that does not mean fasting has to come to a stop. Although we hear some people who don’t really understand fasting talking negatively about it and labelling it as unhealthy and bad for the body, we all know that all that talk is not true. If fasting is done correctly, you can seriously improve your health and numerous studies have confirmed this.
The usual fasting we experience here in Qatar is the type linked to the holy month of Ramadan, denying ourselves food and water from dusk till dawn, to have sympathy for others, to sacrifice, to detox and restart and to improve our self-control and self-discipline as we take the time to focus on ourselves, our families and our religion. Intermittent fasting is a bit different but similar in terms of denying yourself food during specific times but being permitted to drink water, zero-calorie drinks and unsweetened tea and coffee. The different schedules vary from for example, from eating only during a specific 8-hour period during the day and fasting for the rest or eating only one meal a day 2-3 times a week.
Why intermittent fast?
Studies show that our bodies have always been able to go without food for many hours and even days, allowing the body to deplete its sugar stores so it can finally burn fat. Through intermittent fasting we are increasing the time our body can burn the calories in our system so we can get to the fat burning stage. Think about it, if you are continuously eating during the day and not exercising enough you are not allowing your body to burn enough to get to the sugar stores and fat so intermittent fasting can be a really good option for those who are not so physically active.
How is it done?
The most common schedule that is easy to maintain is the 16/8 approach where you can eat during a specific 8-hour period and fast for the other 16. The second most common schedule is the 5/2 approach where you eat regularly for 5 days and have only one small meal the other 2 days. If you are having trouble deciding which schedule to follow, do not hesitate to do further research or to simply download one of the various intermittent fasting apps that help guide you through your experience.
What should I eat when I am not fasting?
To reap the benefits, you should be trying your best to eat clean, whole, healthy, and nutritious foods. You must also be mindful of your portions and eat a generally well-balanced diet.
What are the actual benefits?
If done right, you can lose unwanted fat and easily maintain your healthy weight. Intermittent fasting has also been found to improve metabolism, organ health and lessen your chances of getting one of the common chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers. So not only do you improve your physical performance, heart health, tissue health and weight management but you also benefit mentally. Firstly, you learn and maintain self-control and self-discipline and eventually improve your memory as well!
Who shouldn’t intermittent fast?
Physicians do not recommend this lifestyle for children under 18, pregnant and breastfeeding women and those who have blood sugar related issues or eating disorders. As a rule of thumb, always consult your physician before starting.
Are there any side-effects?
You may feel hungry or cranky during the first 4 weeks as your body adapts to the new eating approach, but other than that, you will only feel better!
Last updated: May 13 2021 01:24 AM
• The author is a wellness advocate and influencer @keys2balance.
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