While intermittent fasting (IF) has recently become popular, it’s no new concept. This specific eating pattern dates back to the time of ancient hunter-gatherers. Of course, the use of fasting has greatly evolved since then. Today it’s used as a way to lose weight, boost longevity and fight disease, whereas thousands of years ago it was used out of necessity.
So what is intermittent fasting? Healthline describes it as “an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.” There’s less focus on what foods you should eat and more on when you should be eating them. There are many different types of fasting methods, but the most popular are daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24-hours, twice a week.
We’re all looking for the next best thing when it comes to health and weight loss, and fasting has definitely caught the attention of many. But like many new fads, we’ve got lots of questions about this one, like what is IF? What are the benefits? And is it even safe? Here’s everything you need to know about fasting…
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is not so much a diet, but rather a lifestyle. This is because it doesn’t focus on what you’re eating, but rather when you’re eating it. It’s an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting with the intention of helping the body burn fat.
According to Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Mark Mattson, Ph.D, who’s studied intermittent fasting for 25 years, this is a way of life that dates back to prehistoric times. “Before humans learned to farm, they were hunters and gatherers who evolved to survive — and thrive — for long periods without eating,” writes Johns Hopkins Medicine. Fasting has also often used for religious or spiritual reasons, including Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism, notes Healthline.
People are now turning to fasting to lose weight. Society has changed a lot. Nowadays people find it hard to lose weight thanks to things like computers, television, and easy access to unhealthy foods. We spend more time sitting and eating, and get less exercise. These extra calories put us at risk for things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses.