Intermittent fasting: how it works and why you should try
Intermittent fasting: how it works and why you should try

Intermittent fasting is becoming a popular way to lose weight.

You've probably heard of the 5: 2 diet or people who "don't eat every day after 5:00 pm." These periods of fasting are thought to help people lose weight, possibly faster than a daily restricted diet. But is this true, and can intermittent fasting help you?

What is Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting refers to a restricted diet that has many different variations. The general trend is that food is consumed only at certain times. Those who practice intermittent fasting limit their food intake or skip it altogether at certain times of the day, week, or month.

What interval fasting days look like

Intermittent fasting refers to prolonged abstinence from food or very little food, followed by a period of normal eating.

  • Alternative Day Fasting (ADF) is when you fast every other day and eat freely on "meal" days.
  • 5: 2 involves dramatically reducing your calorie intake on two days per week (down to about 500-600 calories) and eating a healthy, balanced diet for the other five days.
  • 16: 8 intermittent fasting involves eating only during the eight hour window and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. For example, you can eat from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and then refrain from eating until 10:00 am the next day.
  • Some people follow a 24-hour fast, which means no calories on one day of the week or month.

Intermittent fasting is different for each person, and different styles will suit different people.

Intermittent fasting: what research shows

Many short-term scientific studies have shown that intermittent fasting can help you lose weight, improve your health, and potentially protect you from developing certain diseases. And what's best about it is that it doesn't restrict you on a daily basis like a rigid diet.

Research has also shown that intermittent fasting can help prevent or even reverse diabetes. This is because it helps control and lower blood glucose and insulin concentrations.

Intermittent fasting can improve your sleep and gut health. It can also improve measures related to heart disease and cancer, and possibly reduce inflammation.

girl in the kitchen

Research is ongoing to fully understand the pros and cons of intermittent fasting. Long-term studies are lacking to know for sure if this eating style provides long-term benefits.

Pros of Intermittent Fasting:

  • Easy to follow;
  • Unlimited meals allowed;
  • May increase life expectancy;
  • Promotes weight loss;
  • May help with glucose control;
  • May improve sleep;
  • May bring other health benefits.

Cons of Intermittent Fasting:

  • Side effects on fasting days;
  • May decrease physical activity;
  • May cause severe hunger;
  • Does not promote good nutrition;
  • May contribute to overeating;
  • Not recommended in the long term.

For some people, intermittent fasting can be a great way to control your calorie intake.

If you often find yourself overeating mindlessly in the evenings, setting an eight-hour meal window can help prevent this. Try not to eat after dinner and wait until the next day to eat again. If you, for example, follow 16: 8, then you have dinner at 6:00 pm and wait until 10:00 am the next day to eat again.

If you find it difficult to eliminate complete food groups or certain “favorite” foods, a 5: 2 pattern means you can still enjoy them on normal meal days (within reason).

During your normal eating period, make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet and not just eat unhealthy foods.

Intermittent fasting nutritional rules

Drink plenty of water. You can add lemon or mint. Drink herbal teas throughout the day.

Every day, vegetable fats, herbs, vegetables and fruits must be present in the diet. A lack of fiber can lead to constipation and bowel upset.

Slow carbohydrates in the form of cereals or pasta can saturate the body for a long time.

Season food liberally with garlic, herbs, or spices. These foods are very low in calories yet have a rich flavor, which can help reduce hunger.

It is important to replenish the supply of proteins, both animal and vegetable, on a daily basis.

Choose nutrient-rich foods after a fasting period. Eating foods high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent nutritional deficiencies.

Rest and relaxation. Avoid strenuous exercise on fasting days, although light exercise like yoga can be beneficial.

weight loss rules

Intermittent fasting: a sample menu for the day

1st meal: 2 eggs, 40 g cheese, whole grain bread, 250 g vegetables. Fruits.

2nd meal: 150 g turkey, 120 g rice, 250 g vegetables. Fruits.

3rd meal: 200 g of fish, 250 g of vegetable salad and lettuce leaves.

The indicative menu is easily adaptable to individual tastes. You can arrange 4-5 meals, not 3, including a nutty or vegetable / fruit snack.

Things to Consider with Intermittent Fasting

Like everything else, intermittent fasting may not be for you. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is something we should all strive for. Before embarking on any intermittent fasting plan, consider the following.

  • Alternative day fasting can be difficult and in most cases impractical. On days when you are not eating, you are more likely to experience intense hunger, find it difficult to concentrate, and lack energy. In fact, studies have shown that fasting every other day does not lead to more weight loss compared to constant calorie restriction weight loss plans.
  • Many people gain weight again after following an established diet or meal plan. Intermittent fasting is no exception. Making long-term, sustainable changes to your diet is the best way to consistently maintain a healthy weight.
  • If you have a long-term illness or an eating disorder, calorie restricting diets are not recommended. This also applies if you have depression, anxiety disorder, or other mental illness.
  • It is highly recommended that you refrain from any form of intermittent fasting if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and for children and adolescents.
  • If you regularly take certain medications (such as insulin), make sure you discuss any form of diet with your therapist before starting.

Aside from some research pointing to the benefits of intermittent fasting, the general recommendation is to eat a balanced diet on a regular basis. It's important to remember that a lot of the research has been based on otherwise obese but otherwise healthy adults, not people with health problems.

Making small changes to your eating habits, mainly by avoiding foods high in saturated fat and sugar, is the best way to eat right and maintain a healthy weight.

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