Typically almost all diets will comprise of several meals spread over the course of the day and more often than not many increase the meal frequency. It goes without saying that increasing meal frequency can preserve lean body mass, among other positive effects. Some studies even suggest that evenly spreading total daily caloric intake between each meal has a better anabolic response.
So what is intermittent fasting and how is it different from other typical diet plans? Intermittent fasting is a scheduled eating plan where you eat the same amount of calories you’d normally eat in a day, but only in an allocated window period. Typical fast times range from 14-18 hours and could even go as long as 36 hours.
You could for example have a window period where you eat between 2pm and 8pm, basically missing out on breakfast, or you could eat within a given hour window period, like 7-8pm, and only eat “one” meal during that time.
What’s important to note is that fasting is commonplace, from the religious Ramadan to the fact that our ancestors never had the luxury of guaranteed meals at specific times. So it’s not completely new or unheard of.
In terms of the types of food you eat, well that is up to you. You could follow the basic guidelines of the Zone Diet or Paleo, in terms of what to eat and how much. What is important is that you follow a guideline of quality whole natural foods and avoid processed foods, refined carbohydrates and sugars.
Many studies have additionally shown that intermittent fasting can promote insulin sensitivity, normalise ghrelin levels (hunger hormone), increases natural human growth hormones, lowers triglyceride levels, and even helps prevent inflammation. Additionally, during exercise it can help counter muscle aging and wasting, and boost fat burning.
To help you understand intermittent fasting a lot easier, here is a brilliant intermittent fasting infographic: