Fasting has been done since the early ages for different reasons mostly religious, but recently has gained a lot of popularity, especially when it comes to losing weight.
It’s a dietary pattern or plan that involves cycles of fasting and eating.
There are lot of interpretations to this approach, here are the most popular methods to do intermittent fasting;
- 24-hour fasting: once or twice per week; water, coffee and non-calories beverages are allowed during fasting.
- The 5:2 method: eating normally 5 days of the week while restricting calories to 500-600 kcal per day during the remaining two days of the week.
- Alternate days fasting: fasting every other day, can be the whole day fast or restricting calories on fasting days to 500-600 kcal per day.
- The 16/8 diet: fasting for 16 hours and eating in the remaining 8 hours.
What happens during fasting?
After fasting for few hours blood glucose levels drop, as it is absorbed by cells, dropped glucose levels trigger the pancreas to release glucagon to turn off glycogen synthesis in the liver and stimulate its breakdown into glucose. The glucose is released into the bloodstream to serve as a fuel source for cells throughout the body. If glycogen stores are depleted during fasting, alternative sources, including fatty acids and proteins, can be metabolized and used as fuel. These changes are also accompanied by other changes at the cellular levels called autophagy where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
There are also some studies that suggested changes in gene expression related to protection against diseases.
Health benefits of intermittent fasting
- Weight control; only if the total amount of calorie intake in a day is reduced.
- Decreases insulin resistance.
- Decreases inflammations.
- Healthy heart and brain.
- Anti-aging and destressing benefits.
Who would be a good candidate for this type of diet?
- People who snack on unhealthy items all day.
- People who usually skip meals.
Who should not do intermittent fasting?
- People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes,
- Nursing mothers and pregnant women.
- People training for endurance sports, such as a marathon
- Children and teenagers; are in an active growth age.
- People with medical conditions that require medications to be taken with or after food.
- People with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia nervosa).
Tips to apply when doing the intermittent fasting:
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Include high fiber foods to avoid constipation.
- Include high quality protein in your diet.
- Don’t over eat during breakfast hours.