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Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that is attracting more and more people. But how exactly is intermittent fasting practiced? What are its characteristics, its benefits and is it suitable for everyone?

Different types of intermittent fasting

As its name suggests, intermittent fasting is a split fast, i.e. you only fast at certain times of the day. These periods during which food is partially reduced or completely eliminated range from 16 to 36 hours depending on the method chosen.

In reality, everyone fasts 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours: at night!

Here are a few examples of the most commonly practiced and long term viable methods, knowing that many variations exist.

Daily intermittent fasting

The different types of daily intermittent fasts that exist are distinguished by the length of the fasting periods.

During the periods in which eating is allowed, it is possible to eat as much as you want and as often as you want (usually 2 or 3 meals). There are no restrictions on calories, nutrients or anything else.

Fasting for 24 hours

The 24-hour fast (or Eat Stop Eat) simply consists in not eating for 24 hours once or twice a week. The rest of the time you eat normally.

5/2 and 4/3 diets

There are also :
  • the 5/2 diet in which, during two non-consecutive days per week (twice 24 hours), one limits the caloric intake to 25% of what one normally consumes, i.e. 500 calories for women and 600 for men;
  • the 4/3 diet in which you eat every other day.

Setting up an intermittent fast

Fasting for the first time can be complicated if you are afraid of suffering from hypoglycemia or not being able to keep going. In this case, the best thing to do is to start gently by simply shifting the time of your first meal and taking some dried fruit just in case...

Moreover, not all intermittent fasts start in the same way, bearing in mind that, whichever one you choose, you will feel hungry at first. This is normal since your body is used to a different rhythm.

The ideal is to start gradually by continuing the 16/8 fast for a few weeks. If you wish, you can then test the two other types of fasting proposed here: the Warrior Diet and the Eat Stop Eat.

Starting intermittent fasting 16/8

To start a 16/8 intermittent fast (or Leangains method), simply start by not eating breakfast. In this way, you "naturally" extend the period of nightly fasting.

All you have to do is determine the 8-hour window during which you can eat according to your schedule and your daily life (for example, 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm or 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm). The trick is to make sure that you can stick to this schedule in a sustainable way.

Starting a warrior diet: intermittent fasting 20/4

Intermittent fasting 20/4 consists of eating only in the evening.

To start a warrior diet, wait until 6 or 7 pm to start eating (when you get home from work for example). However, unlike other intermittent fasts, it is allowed to eat some fresh fruits and vegetables during the day.

However, it is strongly recommended to start with a 16/8 diet before switching to this one.

Advantages and disadvantages of the different intermittent fasts

While all intermittent diets carry a risk of dehydration (hence the importance of drinking regularly), there are specific benefits and drawbacks to each type of method used.

It's up to you to find the one that best suits your lifestyle.

Leangains Method

The Leangains Method (16/8) is perfect for athletes as it can easily be combined with hard training. In fact, intermittent fasting in this form leads to a secretion of growth hormone, which promotes muscle development and the reduction of fat mass.

The 16/8 fast is also quite easy to respect with, during the fasting period, little sensation of hunger (or only temporary) and therefore a low propensity to snack.

On the other hand, it can be complicated to respect the method in case of a fluctuating schedule, since a time slot must be set each day.

Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet requires fasting for 20 hours each day, which results in increased insulin sensitivity and increased hormone secretion.

This results in a reduction of abdominal fat. This weight loss phenomenon is favored by the fact that having only one meal limits the risks of consuming too many calories each day, which inevitably results in weight loss (or maintaining a healthy weight).

On the downside, the most problematic of these is probably the feeling of hunger. The first week is generally the most difficult. Moreover, if weight loss is not the objective, it is not easy to eat healthily (varied and balanced) while managing to consume enough calories in one meal.

Positive and negative sides of the 24-hour fast

The 24-hour fast is easy to implement since it can be adapted to any lifestyle. You can therefore not eat before dinner (preferably, for simplicity) or before lunch.

In addition, it offers the possibility of fasting on different days from one week to the next, which does not affect your social life.

Another positive point is that the 24-hour fast also allows you to reduce your caloric intake (especially if you decide to do it twice a week) and therefore to obtain a relatively rapid weight loss (often 500 g per week).

The disadvantage of this fast is of course that you have to fast for 24 consecutive hours.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

Several benefits can be expected from intermittent fasting:
  • weight loss and hunger regulation after a short adaptation period;
  • cleansing of the body (it acts as a detox);
  • relief (or prevention) of several chronic pathologies, including digestive disorders;
  • Improving mood (hormonal regulation) and cognitive performance (slowing down brain aging).

Weight loss

Intermittent fasting allows for rapid weight loss. It is without context an effective method since :
  • the number of calories consumed each day is reduced;
  • the body, once it has exhausted its glucose reserves, will draw the necessary energy from the fat cells;
  • we do not impose any important deprivation to the body which does not need to store;
  • the possible feeling of hunger present at the beginning of the fasting fades away in a few days if the fasting is set up correctly.

Cleansing of the body

By fasting, the body will have less energy to provide for digestion and this will naturally benefit the other metabolic functions (cellular oxygenation, blood circulation, blood pressure, cognitive functions, etc.).

Moreover, the liver will be decongested, the intestine cleansed and digestion facilitated during periods of eating since fasting allows the intestinal nervous system to be cleared of undesirable metabolites.

All this results in a decrease in the level of free radicals and ultimately an improvement in general tone and clarity of mind.

In addition, intermittent fasting helps to regain some of one's instincts so that one tends to be more attracted to fresh food and whole ingredients. On the contrary, one is generally less and less tempted by junk food or sugar.

Improvements in chronic diseases

The third positive aspect of intermittent fasting is the normalization of blood tests, in particular :
  • triglycerides ;
  • cholesterol levels
  • insulin levels (increased sensitivity to insulin).
Moreover, fasting helps to prevent the onset of chronic and degenerative pathologies (including asthma) and it participates in the reduction of tissue inflammation by reducing oxidative stress.

Not to be neglected to obtain good results with intermittent fasting

To obtain all the results expected from intermittent fasting, certain points must not be neglected:
  • Of course intermittent fasting can only be effective if, when you are not fasting, you eat properly. In particular, you need to consume enough protein and vitamins.
  • It is important to stay active and continue to perform normal tasks such as working, going for a walk, gardening, etc. Otherwise you will not lose any weight. Otherwise you will not only not lose weight, but you may be tempted to take a little detour to the kitchen!
  • If you have to do any physical activity or sport during the fasting period, make sure that it precedes the period during which you can eat.
  • It is necessary to drink large quantities (water, no sugary or light drinks or milk) when doing intermittent fasting. This is even more necessary if you feel hungry at times. Note that coffee and tea are allowed.

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