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Intermittent FASTING Author: Tanatswa Taruvinga "If you keep your mouth open any longer, flies will get in," I told him dryly as I took another sip of my water. He closed his mouth but still looked incredulous. "You mean you go for sixteen hours without food? How are you surviving?" He asked. I shrugged. I had lost two inches off my waistline and about three kilograms. I was getting to the level of fitness that I'd been coveting since I was eighteen. But the guy had a point; although intermittent fasting worked well for me, it's not for everyone.Intermittent fasting is switching between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Fasting can be defined as abstaining from food (not the usual abstinence we're taught). With intermittent fasting, one has a set period to fast where one can only take water, tea, or coffee, all without sugar and minimal to no milk. The reason behind the no sugar and minimal to no milk rule is that one can only consume zero-calorie foods during the fasting period. Anything with more calories will raise your blood sugar and release you from fasting. Intermittent fasting is the perfect way to lose weight without changing the foods you eat because you can eat whatever you want within the eating period. One has to be weary not to binge in this state. It also is the perfect way to reduce the daily amount of food a person consumes. Traditionally speaking, people didn't eat as much as in modern days. There was less entertainment, television, and apps to keep people awake, so generally, people went to sleep soon after the sun went down, which means that they stopped eating when the sun went down. Various nutritionists, psychologists, and psychiatrists have come to the same conclusion that modern people overeat, which affects our health and lifespan. In Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, she also mentions how a native Indonesian man she was friends with was old and healthy and had one moderate meal a day.
Over-eating has been attributed to the increase in cancer cases, promoting body fat, disrupting hunger regulation, diminishing self-control, impairing brain function, and an array of other repercussions that no one would ever want to face. In reality, what we now call intermittent fasting is how people used to eat usually in the past. Even though the modern healthcare system was unavailable, they generally suffered from fewer ailments than modern-day people. The other benefits of intermittent fasting include having better immune and inflammatory responses, reduced impact of chronic illnesses, better quality brain function (which is also a result of building self-discipline through fasting), and a metabolism boost that kickstarts faster weight loss and increased fitness. Many people also report that they have better gut health, and those who choose the more intense intermittent fasting programs have been able to get rid of tapeworms lodged in their intestines.
Intermittent fasting is not without its pitfalls. Although it is generally considered safe, if a person doesn't eat well enough during their eating stage, they can suffer from hunger pangs, irritability, headaches, and bad breath. People who are neurodivergent or suffer from chronic mental illness should take extra precautions and consult their psychiatrists because eating patterns can majorly impact mental health. For example, people with ADHD should never skip breakfast and would have to have a fasting program that incorporates breakfast every day. Inevitably fasting is like every other diet in that one should consult with their doctor before embarking on it. There are multiple methods of fasting. The most popular is the 16:8 fasting program, where one fasts for sixteen hours and has an eating window of eight hours daily. The more intense fasters might fast twice a week, which is the 5:2 method. There's also alternate-day fasting and 24-hour fasting, where one doesn't even partake of the approved beverages. It is different strokes for different folks. The best thing about all of this, though, is that you never have to feel guilty about indulging in a chocolate cake or cookie during your eating period. It's worth seeing a few jaws drop when you tell them about your dietary lifestyle.