Blue diet, paleo diet, ketogenic diet… Human beings are constantly renewing their way of Intermittent Fasting, renewing dietary models and plans so that they fit their lifestyle and food preferences, always looking for greater physical and mental well-being.
However, there are diets that have turned out to be more harmful to health than others, especially miracle diets that promise great weight loss in a short time and that, by ceasing to follow strict restrictive regimens, force the body to accumulate fat, making us fat again and creating the dreaded yo-yo effect.
For a few months now, magazines and articles on the Internet have echoed a new trend in the world of diets, which promises to improve the quality of life of those who follow it: intermittent fasting. But does it really help us lose weight? And above all, what are its health benefits? Our nutrition expert, Laura Parada, will explain to us in this post all the keys to this diet, and what it means to apply this change of diet to our body.
What is intermittent fasting and how is it done?
Intermittent fasting is currently one of the hottest trends in the world of health and fitness. It is a diet focused on time, and consists of dividing the day into eating hours, that is, times when you can eat food and others when you must eliminate your calorie intake . It is, in short, a cycle feeding model that aims to make the most of your body’s functions in burning fat and taking food.
Although it is not specified what type of food should be eaten, we always recommend following a healthy diet rich in vegetables, proteins and water and low in sugars, refined flours, saturated fats and processed products.
During the fasting windows, you can continue to drink, -and in fact it is recommended-, especially water, coffee, tea and other non-caloric drinks.
Existing types or models of intermittent fasting
There are different types of intermittent fasting, depending on your eating patterns.
The Rule 16 8, also called the Leangains protocol, was created by Swedish model, weightlifter and nutritionist Martin Berkhan, and is perhaps the most popular method of intermittent fasting today. It consists, as its name suggests, of fasting for 16 hours – including sleep time – and eating in windows of 8 hours a day.
On the other hand, the 5:2 diet, also called the Fasting Diet , was popularized by the British doctor and journalist Michael Mosley and is based on reducing consumption to 500 calories for women and 600 for men on two non-consecutive days a week and eat healthy the other five.
Finally, the Eat, Stop, Eat method , popularized by Canadian nutritionist Brad Pilon. It’s a lot like the 5:2 diet, but it involves fasting completely for 24 hours once or twice a week.
What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
This type of restrictive diet forces the fasting organism to use the body’s energy and fat reserves as fuel.. This occurs in several phases, the first being the burning of blood glucose. During the first 6 to 8 hours without eating, the pancreas will begin to secrete glucagon to create glucose stores that are stored in the liver as liver glycogen. Once the glycogen reserve is exhausted, and after those 8 hours, the body begins to use fat to obtain the necessary energy. This fat is obtained from adipose tissue and is broken down into free fatty acid glycerin and, however, it cannot reach the brain since they are long-chain fatty acids and, due to their size, they cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. This forces the liver to create new glucose from glycerol in fat, so the brain uses glucose stores as gasoline.
This chemical process helps us not only to lose weight, due to the burning of fats and glucose, but also decreases our insulin levels by up to 30% and our sugar levels by up to 6%, minimizing the risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes. . In addition, it increases the amount of growth hormones in our body , which translates into greater ease in burning fat and gaining muscle, among other benefits. Finally, the body is subjected to a very powerful cellular repair, especially when the body enters the autophagy phase, releasing excess unnecessary cellular material, thus promoting muscle and body regeneration.
How can the body of a person using intermittent fasting methods be affected?
Now that we have seen the chemical process that begins during intermittent fasting, and the improvements that metabolism experiences, we will talk about the more organic consequences to which this type of diet contributes.
Intermittent fasting, like all methods of weight reduction, causes loss of muscle mass, so it is very important to watch that our protein intake is adequate for our age and weight and, during meal windows, to exercise such as weight lifting or Pilates, to help keep muscles toned and active.
It also helps us improve eating habits, especially because, when fasting, we pay more attention to what we eat. In addition, although eating healthy is very simple, with this type of diet it is easier to maintain a healthy regime, since we cook less and therefore make better meal plans, as long as we do not overcompensate for fasting periods in those of intake.
Is intermittent fasting suitable for everyone?
Intermittent fasting is a diet that requires a lot of willpower and self control.
This diet is totally prohibited for pregnant women or women with the intention of conceiving , since they have higher energy needs, and for children; partly because they require high levels of calories and minerals to grow and on the other hand because at these stages it is essential to build normalized and healthy eating habits.
In addition, intermittent fasting is dangerous for those who suffer or have suffered from eating disorders, since it can trigger a return to intake patterns that are not recommended and are harmful to health. The same happens with those individuals with a propensity to anxiety, depression or migraine, since they need extra care and minor alterations in their lifestyle.
Finally, people with congenital diseases, diabetes or insulin resistance can follow this diet as long as they have consulted with their doctor and do not experience negative effects once the process has started: otherwise, they should return to a normal intake of calories.
Advice for those who want to start in the intermittent fasting method
If you are thinking of starting the intermittent fasting diet, we recommend that you do it little by little and always under the supervision of a specialist. Therefore, it is better to start by gradually reducing the number of daily meals in the days before starting the diet. Once you have started, plan well when to eat the daily calories and, above all, not consume them all at once to make the fasting period more bearable.
Although it is important to do sports so as not to lose muscle mass, on fasting days, we recommend you rest properly since a restrictive diet usually also leads to a greater feeling of tiredness, you may feel less energy.
It is also essential to stay constantly hydrated so that your metabolism does not drop, as well as to keep hunger at bay and not fall into dehydration. You can drink water, tea, coffee, mate and, when fasting for 24 hours, we recommend including low-fat broths.