Intermittent fasting is a term for eating food only during specific times of the day, and not eating the rest of the time. This is also known as time-restricted eating. When you don’t eat for a brief period of time, your body creates chemicals called ketones in your liver. Your body uses these ketones as fuel to keep your body going, instead of using sugar that comes from food. This improves your body’s metabolism, which is the way your body creates energy.
There are a few different ways you can practice intermittent fasting:
- Eat all of your food during one 6- to 8-hour window every day
- Eat only ¼ of your usual amount of food one day, then eat all of your usual food plus an extra ¼ the next day (and repeat)
- Eat your usual amount of food 5 days a week, and then don’t eat any food 2 days a week
The most common pattern is the first one, eating all of your food during one 6- to 8-hour window every day. People who are not practicing intermittent fasting will normally have 3 meals a day spread across 12 to 15 hours. This often includes snacks in between meals such as a snack between lunch and dinner.
With intermittent fasting, this eating window may be shortened to just 6 hours. You might start your first meal of the day at 12 pm, eat another meal at 3 pm, and finish your last meal at 6 pm.
Intermittent fasting may help you lose weight. It may also help lower your blood sugar and blood pressure. It may even help regulate your heart rate. Speak with your healthcare provider before trying intermittent fasting if you have diabetes or are prescribed medications that lower your blood sugar.
If you intermittently fast, the benefits may last!