What we really need to know.
Intermittent fasting has become one of the new fitness trends.
Let's see how it works and if it can be a good option for you.
What is it?
Intermittent fasting is a broad term that encompasses a variety of programs aimed at manipulating the timing of eating by using short-term fasts to improve body composition and overall health. It is a food pattern rather than a diet.
Fasting is a practice used throughout human evolution. The ancient hunter-gatherers did not have supermarkets, refrigerators, or food always on hand and sometimes could not find anything to eat.
As a result, humans have learned to live without food for long periods.
In many cultures such as Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, fasting has been practiced and observed religiously for years.
How does it work?
There are several ways to perform intermittent fasting, but the most popular are the following:
• 16/8: which involves skipping breakfast and limiting the time you eat to 8 hours (13 to 21), then fast for 16 hours. This is the most popular and the easiest to support.
• Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner until the next day's dinner.
• The 5: 2 diet: we eat normally 5 days a week and only consume 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week.
What are the benefits of fasting?
It can have beneficial effects on weight control and mental and physical health. It could also be a good longevity strategy.
The main health benefits of intermittent fasting are:
• Weight Loss: As mentioned earlier, intermittent fasting can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to limit calories.
• Insulin resistance: Intermittent fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lower blood sugar levels by 3-6% and lower insulin levels by 20-31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes.
• Inflammation: Studies show a reduction in inflammation markers, a key factor in many chronic diseases.
• Protective effect on the heart: Intermittent fasting can reduce "bad" LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance - all risk factors for heart disease
• Cancer: Animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting can prevent cancer
• Mental health: Intermittent fasting increases the brain hormone BDNF and can help the growth of new nerve cells. It can also protect against Alzheimer's.
• Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting can extend lifespan according to studies in rats. Studies have shown that fasted rats lived 36-83% longer.
Is it for everyone?
If you are underweight or have a history of eating disorders, you should not fast without first consulting a health professional as it can be harmful in these cases.
Seems to benefit men more than women, there are several reports of women whose menstrual period stopped when they started intermittent fasting and returned to normal when they resumed their previous eating pattern.
For these reasons, women should be wary of intermittent fasting and perhaps opt for a 14/10 method, more sustainable and flexible in the event, but always under the supervision of a professional.
They should also follow separate guidelines and stop immediately if problems such as amenorrhea (absence of menstruation) arise.
If you are trying to conceive and/or have fertility problems, avoid intermittent fasting for now. This diet is also not recommended if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Is it safe?
The most common side effect of intermittent fasting is hunger.
People with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, blood sugar regulation, low blood pressure, history of eating disorders, underweight, women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, trying to conceive, or with a history of amenorrhea (lack of menstruation), should not fast without consulting a doctor first.
Can you eat what you want during the non-fasting period?
It is necessary to eat healthy to obtain the benefits mentioned above.
If you want to lose weight without giving up energy, these are the foods that must be included in your meal plan:
• Foods high in fiber and protein: lentils, beans, chicken, brown rice, yogurt, eggs, and whole meal bread.
• Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews, chestnuts, and other types of nuts as snacks when you feel slightly hungry. Walnuts are good sources of healthy fats and can also help lower your cholesterol level.
• Green leafy vegetables and greens in general: Vegetables are full of fiber and other essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, etc. which can help prevent tiredness and laziness.
• Fruit: The fiber and water found in fruit, along with other vital nutrients, can make you feel energized while helping you satisfy your cravings for sweets.
During fasting, you can drink coffee, tea, or herbal teas, but making sure not to add sugar, you can also take supplements, although some supplements are more effective taken during meals.
Intermittent fasting is great for some people, not others.
If you feel good while fasting and find it sustainable, it can be a very powerful tool for losing weight and improving your health.
Intermittent fasting (IF) has changed the eating habits of many, however, it should only be done in moderation since intense fasting can cause side effects such as lowering energy, indolence, stress, mood swings, and much more.
Start by investigating and trying to understand your body's needs by contacting a nutritionist, and after understanding what is best for you, choose the most suitable option.
That's all for now!