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Special diet for menstrual cycle and premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur a few days before menstruation. It is characterized by headaches, abdominal cramps, sleep disorders, irritability, etc. The special menstrual cycle and premenstrual syndrome diet is designed to improve a woman's well-being before and during her period. During premenstrual syndrome, the diet must be rich in certain key nutrients to limit the symptoms.

Pre-menstrual diet essentials:

  • Eat more whole grains and legumes
  • Split your diet
  • Get a good supply of Omega-3 and other nutrients
  • Reduce sodium intake
  • Ensure a good intake of magnesium

Benefits of eating before your period

The special menstrual cycle and premenstrual syndrome diet has many benefits, it allows to :
  • Limit cravings and feelings of hunger before the period
  • Avoid weight gain during your period
  • Reduce the unpleasant symptoms specific to this period
  • To have a better comfort of life and to improve the well-being of the woman
  • Provide essential nutrients to prevent deficiencies related to menstrual loss

Why do we gain weight during our periods and what is PMS?

"Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term used to describe several symptoms, both emotional and physical, that occur a few days before menstruation. Although 70% of women experience discomfort around menstruation, only 3% to 5% of women actually meet the diagnosis of PMS. The causes of PMS are not known. To date, research has focused on 3 areas: hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies and chemical disorders in the brain. Hormone therapy is used to treat hormonal imbalances. However, it is important to know that a healthy diet also plays an important role in the delicate balance that takes place in the hormonal system and the brain.

These same chemical and hormonal disorders undoubtedly justify feelings of hunger and cravings during menstruation and in connection with premenstrual syndrome. In addition, women are particularly sensitive to the phenomenon of water retention around menstruation. All these reasons explain the temporary weight gain that often accompanies menstruation in women, and even more so if they suffer from premenstrual syndrome.

Diet and menstrual cycle: dietary recommendations

This fact sheet discusses the dietary habits to adopt in order to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Indeed, food provides the female body with what it needs for its well-being during this particular period.

Premenstrual syndrome: what dietary solutions?

The diet of women suffering from premenstrual syndrome before their period must be particularly balanced in order to minimize pain. We recommend a split diet, rich in key nutrients: magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin E, etc. In addition, a good intake of Omega-3 and whole grains can contribute to a woman's comfort during this period of the menstrual cycle.

Fractional diet
It has been proven that women who suffer from PMS eat more food before their period than after. Simply eating a balanced diet at regular times can help avoid the fluctuations in blood sugar levels that cause compulsive eating and increased appetite during this delicate period.

Eating a snack rich in complex carbohydrates 2 to 3 hours after meals can help avoid compulsive eating and reduce irritability, confusion, mood swings and symptoms of depression. It is therefore recommended that you eat 2 to 3 snacks a day, in addition to your main meals.

Here are some ideas for snacks rich in complex carbohydrates and protein:
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread and hummus
  • Homemade oat bran cookies and yogurt
  • Soy drink and fruit
  • 250 ml of milk and mixed dates and seeds
Magnesium
Women should have a minimum magnesium intake of 300 mg to 400 mg per day. Magnesium may reduce inflammation, and therefore menstrual pain. It may also reduce nervousness, mood swings and breast tenderness. An adequate intake of magnesium could also help limit weight gain during menstruation. To meet your magnesium needs, eat nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fish. It is also important to reduce the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and soft drinks, as they contribute to the elimination of magnesium.

The following foods provide 400 mg of magnesium in a single day. (For other sources of magnesium, see our Magnesium Chart)
  • 30 g of Brazil nuts
  • 30 g of oat bran cereal
  • 100 g of tuna
  • 150 g cooked spinach
Legumes and whole grains
Providing a lot of slow carbohydrates and dietary fiber, legumes and grain products help prevent hypoglycemia. They also promote the production of serotonin in the brain, which can have a positive effect on depression, tension, agitation and fatigue. Moreover, a diet rich in whole grains, legumes and low in fat, such as a vegetarian diet, seems to be effective in reducing the duration of premenstrual syndrome and the intensity of menstrual cramps.

In the diet before your period, be sure to include the following foods
  • whole-grain bread (containing 2 g to 3 g of fiber per slice)
  • high-fiber breakfast cereals (with 3 g of fiber per serving and less than 5 g of sugar)
  • bulgur, brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, barley and millet
  • whole wheat pasta
  • Rye bread
  • Multi-grain bread
  • Homemade bran pastries
  • Spelt or whole wheat bread, hot dog buns or hamburger
  • Legumes: lentils, peas, beans
Increase nutrient intake during PMS to avoid intense fatigue
Iron: If you have heavy blood loss, it is important to replenish your iron stores after each period, otherwise fatigue will quickly set in. The best sources of iron are meats, legumes and green vegetables. For other sources, see our Iron in Nutrient Chart.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E is thought to reduce inflammation, and therefore menstrual pain. However, this effect cannot be obtained from food alone, and usually requires a supplement. However, more studies are needed to confirm the effect of vitamin E supplements on PMS.

Vitamin B6: Research on the effects of vitamin B6 in reducing PMS-related symptoms of anxiety and irritability is conflicting. A lack of vitamin B6 is rare, but taking certain medications reduces its absorption. This is the case with certain contraceptives and MAOI-type antidepressants. In this case, it is recommended to take a supplement (100 mg maximum) to see if it brings benefits. On the other hand, it is suggested not to exceed 100 mg per day of vitamin B6, as it can have undesirable effects on the nervous system.

Calcium and spm
The nutrient with the most positive effect on PMS is calcium. A good daily intake of calcium is believed to reduce premenstrual symptoms by acting on brain chemistry, among other things. The recommended intake for this effect is 1200 mg per day. To ensure a sufficient daily intake, calcium supplementation is generally recommended. However, here are some ways to get 1,200 mg of calcium per day through food (you can also consult our Calcium Chart).
  • 100 g of tofu + 250 ml of milk + 125 ml of calcium-enriched orange juice
  • 100 g canned salmon with bones + 1 yogurt + 1 cup cooked Chinese cabbage + 30 g hard cheese
  • 30 g almonds + 250 ml fortified soy milk + 1 cup lima beans + 1 cottage cheese
Omega-3
Marine omega-3 fatty acids promote the production of anti-inflammatory molecules, thus reducing uterine muscle contraction and menstrual pain. Also, it would seem that flaxseed (a source of vegetable omega-3), at a rate of 25 g per day, would be effective in reducing pain in the chest area.

To obtain a good intake of marine omega-3s, it is recommended to eat 2 to 3 meals per week containing 150 g of the following fish: salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, tuna, halibut, herring. Krill oil, rich in omega-3, would be particularly interesting to reduce symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome.

Other recommended foods :
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Antioxidants
  • Lean proteins
  • Good hydration
  • Moderate physical activity

Food not recommended before the menstrual cycle

Before the menstrual cycle, and in general, certain foods are not recommended because of their harmful effects on the body: increased blood sugar levels, cravings, water retention, etc. Thus, it is recommended to avoid the consumption of refined products, sodium and sugar. In addition, it seems that adopting a vegetarian diet before your period has many positive effects on the duration and intensity of pain.

Refined products
While legumes and whole grains have a very positive effect on blood sugar and serotonin synthesis in the brain, refined products should be avoided. These foods could have a negative effect on the duration of premenstrual syndrome and the intensity of menstrual cramps.

As part of the diet before the period, it is recommended to avoid the following foods
  • white flour bread
  • sandwich bread, crackers, burger buns
  • pastries
  • classic white pasta
  • couscous
  • instant or pre-cooked white rice
  • risotto
  • rice vermicelli
  • gnocchi
  • classic breakfast cereals
  • canned or stewed fruit
  • skinless potatoes and instant mashed flakes
  • beer
  • tapioca
  • milk chocolate
  • industrial dry cookies
  • cornstarch
  • sweetened desserts
  • sweetened cereal bar
Sodium
The main component of salt, sodium can cause bloating, water retention and breast tenderness. It is imperative to choose foods that contain less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. Check the nutrition facts table on the food label.

It is recommended that the following salty foods be avoided as part of the menstrual cycle specific diet:
  • Table salt
  • Soy sauce
  • Deli meats
  • Smoked fish
  • Marinades
  • Olives
  • Sauerkraut
  • Industrial sauces and soups
  • Roasted and salted oilseeds
  • Ready-made and frozen meals
  • Flavored salt
  • Sodas
  • Chips
  • French fries
  • Mustard
  • Bouillon cube
  • Baking powder
  • Mineral water containing more than 23 mg of sodium per liter
Excess of red meat
The diet just before the menstrual cycle should be vegetarian. Red meat and other fatty meats are high in saturated fat and low in fiber, and do not have a positive effect on premenstrual syndrome symptoms. We should therefore aim to limit meat consumption, especially red meat, to 1 or 2 meals per week. On the contrary, fish should be preferred for its content of good fats and vegetable proteins.

Here is what is proposed for a balanced vegetarian diet:

Protein sources and the Number of meals per week

  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils) 3 to 4 meals
  • Tofu 1 to 2 meals
  • Fish 3 meals
  • Seafood 1 meal
  • Poultry 3 to 4 meals
  • Peanut butter 1 to 2 times
  • Eggs 1 meal of 2 eggs
  • Meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, cold cuts, etc.) 1 to 2 meals
  • Nuts and seeds several times

Other foods not recommended:
  • Industrial foods
  • Prepared foods
  • Trans and saturated fats
  • Deli meats
  • Fried and breaded foods
  • Fast food
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Practical daily tips for a healthy diet before your period

  • Replace table salt with herbs or spices to enhance the taste of dishes
  • Eat cheese, industrial tomato juice, soups and sauces made with broth, canned tomato sauces, etc. in moderation
  • Avoid frozen or pre-prepared meals (pizza, lasagna, etc.)
  • If fresh vegetables are not available, use frozen vegetables and always rinse canned vegetables before use
  • Plan at least 3 fish meals and 3 legume meals per week
  • Add soy milk to cereals instead of milk, it is rich in calcium and vitamin D
  • Cook as much as possible and make homemade cookies, cakes and breads with wholemeal flour and oat bran
  • Bake granola bars with flax and hemp seeds to meet carbohydrate and omega-3 needs and have a healthy snack to take anywhere
  • Make yogurt sauces with vinegar, lemon juice and herbs for seasoning and to reduce sodium intake

Special diet for gastric ulcers

An ulcer is a lesion located in the upper part of the digestive tract. The gastric ulcer penetrates the stomach wall and can go as far as total perforation of the stomach. It usually results in severe pain, nausea and possible weight loss. The special gastric ulcer diet aims to avoid the consumption of foods that can irritate the stomach or make digestion painful. At the same time, this diet allows you to maintain an optimal energy intake.

The main points of the special stomach ulcer diet:

  • Increase consumption of soluble fiber
  • Eat foods that are sources of vitamin A
  • Limit consumption of irritating drinks
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Split your diet

Stomach ulcers: the benefits of a proper diet

In case of stomach ulcers, having an adapted diet allows to :
  • Reduce gastric pain
  • Avoid foods that irritate the stomach
  • Reduce the risk of recurrence
  • Maintain an optimal nutritional intake
  • Split the diet
  • Avoid weight loss
  • Regain digestive comfort

Causes of gastric ulcers

The ulcer is caused by the disruption of the balance between aggressive agents and means of defense in the body. The aggressive agents are smoking, malnutrition, alcohol, stress, chronic diseases, etc.

Stomach ulcers are often associated with the infection caused by the Helicobacter Pylori bacterium, which is the most common bacterium in humans. It attacks the gastric wall and can even perforate it.

The three main types of ulcers are caused by :
  • H. Pylori
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Other pathologies (e.g. chronic diseases)
Stomach ulcers usually appear after the age of 60, mostly in women. Duodenal ulcers appear between the ages of 30 and 50 and affect more men.

To date, no study has demonstrated the role of diet in the occurrence of ulcers. However, it is known that certain factors such as alcohol, tobacco and stress can aggravate the symptoms and precipitate the onset of an ulcer.

It is advisable not to cut out any food groups unless there is a proven intolerance. The goal of the special stomach ulcer diet is to learn to know and respect individual food tolerances.

Food recommendations and foods to avoid in case of ulcers or ulcerative colitis

The special diet for gastric ulcers is not intended to avoid certain foods at all costs. Indeed, the purpose of this sheet is to provide recommendations to be adapted according to your individual tolerance. In general, however, it is recommended that you choose foods that are rich in nutrients and low in substances that irritate the stomach wall.

Stomach ulcer: recommended diet

In case of stomach ulcers, it is recommended to give preference to foods rich in soluble fiber, vitamin A and quality proteins. It is also advisable to take a course of probiotics and to divide the diet so as not to arouse gastric pain during the day.

Soluble fiber
Dietary fibers, and more specifically soluble fibers from fruits, vegetables and legumes, protect the mucosa against duodenal ulcers. They could also prevent relapses.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A has been suggested to have a protective effect by increasing the production of gastric mucus, which creates a protective barrier.

The best sources of vitamin A to include in the special stomach ulcer diet are:
  • Offal
  • Carrot juice
  • Sweet potato with skin
  • Pumpkin
  • Carrot
  • Spinach
  • Green cabbage
  • Squash
  • Herring
  • Dandelion
  • Red bell pepper
  • Melon
  • Tomato juice or other vegetable
Probiotics
It seems that probiotics are effective in the fight against H. Pylori bacteria. Indeed, they reduce the spread of the bacteria and the inflammation of the mucosa. Probiotics of the Lactobacillus family would be particularly interesting in the context of a special diet for stomach ulcers.

Split and regular feeding
It is recommended to avoid prolonged periods of fasting. You should opt for three small meals a day containing all the food groups: fruits, vegetables, proteins, good fats, etc. Eating snacks between meals can help relieve pain when it occurs. In this case, it is necessary to divide the food intake into three small meals and three snacks.

Lean proteins
Because of the risk of weight loss due to stomach pain, it is important to have a good protein intake at every meal. Protein helps maintain muscle mass and good health. However, given the high saturated fat content of some animal protein sources, it is recommended to prefer vegetable proteins or proteins from lean meats. Similarly, it is important to choose cooking methods that do not contain any fat to avoid difficult digestion.

The sources of proteins to be preferred in the special diet for gastric ulcers are
  • Eggs
  • Pulses according to tolerance
  • Tofu
  • Poultry without the skin
  • Lean cuts of meat
  • Fish
  • Seafood
Other recommended foods :
  • Antioxidants
  • Omega-3
  • Milk

What foods are forbidden in the special diet for gastric ulcers?

No food is really forbidden in case of ulcer. However, it is recommended to avoid certain foods in case of ulcer or ulcerative colitis. This is the case for alcohol, sugar, bad fats or spices which can awaken pain and make eating difficult. Again, these recommendations should be adapted to your individual tolerance.

Irritating drinks
Alcohol stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, excessive consumption disturbs the balance of the gastric mucosa and can lead to gastritis and bleeding. It is therefore recommended to limit alcohol consumption to 2 servings per day, for both men and women.

One serving of alcohol is equivalent to :
  • 250 ml of beer
  • 2.5 cl of hard liquor
  • 12 cl of wine
It is also advisable to limit the consumption of drinks containing caffeine: coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, as well as decaffeinated drinks. By increasing gastric acidity, they can cause significant pain.

Saturated and trans fats
Saturated and trans fats are among the foods to avoid in case of ulcer or ulcerative colitis. They increase inflammation and make digestion difficult. They should therefore be replaced by good monounsaturated fats rich in Omega-3 (olive oil, flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, etc.).

Foods rich in bad fats to be avoided in the special diet for gastric ulcers are
  • Fatty meats and cold cuts
  • Butter, cream
  • Palm oil, coconut oil
  • Hydrogenated margarines
  • Industrial products: prepared meals, cookies, pastries, etc.
Spices
The consumption of spices should be moderated according to individual tolerance. Some people find that spices cause real pain, others less so. The same applies to citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit, orange) which can make gastric ulcers painful. It is recommended to avoid these foods in case of ulcers, only if they cause pain.

Sweetened products
White sugar is said to have a corrosive and inflammatory effect on the body. As it is devoid of nutrients, it is one of the foods to avoid in case of ulcers or ulcerative colitis. It is therefore recommended not to add sugar to food and to read food labels carefully. Indeed, sugar is hidden everywhere, so be careful.

Industrial products
Very often, industrial products concentrate bad fats and sugar. They are difficult to digest and have a lower nutritional value than other products. For these reasons, it is recommended to limit their consumption.

Other foods not recommended:
  • Fried food
  • Dishes with sauce
  • Cream and fatty cheeses
  • Deli meats

Practical advice for everyday life

  • Replace spices with herbs in dishes
  • Instead of a glass of alcohol, drink tomato juice as an aperitif
  • Make small snacks with dairy products, if necessary
  • Prefer to cook in water, in the oven or by steaming
  • Season dishes with a drizzle of vegetable oil after cooking
  • Make yogurt-based sauces to accompany dishes
  • Replace coffee or tea with herbal teas or infused water
  • Cook as much as possible and avoid ready-made meals
  • Pay attention to the labels of industrial products to avoid white sugar, trans fats and excessive salt

5:2 diet: what to eat and how to do it well?

The 5:2 diet is a form of intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting consists of alternating periods of fasting with periods of normal eating. The 5:2 diet is a subclass of intermittent fasting that consists of restricting caloric intake to more than 75% two days a week while eating normally the other five days. This diet has already proven itself in terms of weight loss and health.

The essential points of the 5:2 intermittent fasting :

  • Allows weight loss
  • The choice of food is limited only on the fasting days
  • Can be difficult to follow for some people
  • Effective method to relearn how to listen to food sensations

The main principles of the 5:2 diet

The 5:2 diet is based on the principle of alternating between eating and fasting phases. The goal is to find the eating rhythm of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. According to some scientists, this eating rhythm corresponds much more to our chrono-biological rhythm than the modern diet.

How does the 5:2 diet work?

The 5:2 diet follows the eating pattern of our ancestors who ate only one meal a day, or none at all on days of scarcity. Everything depended on the quality of the hunt. They were used to tolerating hunger and did not eat like we do, 3 meals a day plus snacking between each meal. In the end, today we eat much more than in the past. Moreover, we no longer go out to look for food since it is in abundance around us. Of course, food deprivation including fasting over a long period of time is very bad for our health. On the other hand, according to the instigators of this diet, short periods of intermittent fasting can be very beneficial to health.

The 12 golden rules of successful 5:2 fasting

  1. Know your weight and BMI before you start and keep track of it every day thereafter
  2. Find a fasting partner
  3. Prepare in advance what you will eat on the fasting day
  4. Read the nutrition labels carefully
  5. Wait before eating and take the opportunity to listen to your food sensations
  6. Stay busy
  7. Try fasting from 2:00 pm to 2:00 pm, i.e. on a fixed schedule
  8. Don't be afraid to think about foods you like
  9. Stay well hydrated throughout the day
  10. Do not expect to lose weight every day
  11. Don't fast on days when your mood is not good
  12. Congratulate yourself

How does this diet make you lose weight?

This diet is based on the rule of consuming 25% of our daily calorie needs on fasting days. As the average calorie requirement of a woman is 2000 calories per day and that of a man 2400 calories, a total calorie intake of 500 and 600 calories respectively is recommended on fasting days.

The principle of this diet is to reduce caloric intake rather drastically two days a week and to eat freely on the other days.

In a human study, it was shown that alternating between a fasting day (500 to 600 calories per day) and days without any restrictions decreased the total calorie intake over a week. Against all expectations, the days when the participants could eat normally, they only ate 10% more than usual, which on average. As a result, a greater caloric deficit was observed over a week than that generated by a small daily restriction. The notion of compliance is very important, it would indeed be much easier to deprive yourself 2 days out of 7 and eat what you want the other 5 days than to restrict yourself daily.

In the studies carried out on humans, of normal weight or overweight, alternative fasting would allow weight loss (fat mass) as much as a daily hypocaloric diet. Moreover, intermittent fasting has shown effects on the increase in the size of LDL-cholesterol particles (bad cholesterol), independently of fat consumption. It is known that the smallest LDL particles are the most atherogenic and have a greater tendency to stick to the arteries than larger particles. In addition, levels of C-reactive protein and adiponectin, two pro-inflammatory molecules, tend to decrease with intermittent fasting.

Regarding insulin and intermittent fasting, it has been shown that intermittent fasting has the same impact on decreasing insulin resistance as a low-calorie diet in overweight or obese people.

Moreover, intermittent fasting could increase longevity by decreasing the levels of IGF-1, a hormone that promotes cell aging and increases the risk of cancer.

How long does the 5:2 diet last?

The 5:2 diet is more of a lifestyle than a time-limited diet. The 5:2 diet does not only aim at weight loss but also at a general well-being, which is why it is generally followed for a very long time by its followers.

Permitted foods

On fasting days, two types of food are favored:
  • Lean proteins (50 g per day)
  • Foods with a low glycemic index
As far as fruits are concerned, here are those to be favored:
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Cherries
  • Nectarines
  • Fresh apricots
  • Clementine
  • Orange
  • Apple
  • Grapefruit
  • Peach
  • Plums
Leafy vegetables and salads such as spinach, kale, endives, lamb's lettuce are to be preferred during fasting days. Broccoli and green beans or fennel are also excellent choices. Vegetable soups or miso soups are also a good option.

Nuts and seeds are good choices on fasting days because they are very filling. Be careful, however, because they are also very high in calories, so watch your portions.

Choose low-fat dairy products such as yogurt and milk with less than 2% fat and cheeses with less than 20% fat.

Drink enough water or other beverages such as coffee, tea or herbal tea. Avoid alcohol on fasting days as this will substantially increase the calories of your day and you will not even have eaten. Cook with a non-stick pan or use an oil spray to limit added fat.

Forbidden foods

Strictly speaking, there are no forbidden foods in 5:2 intermittent fasting. We're just talking about better choices. As always in nutrition, the ideal is to avoid processed foods, rich in sugar or trans and saturated fatty acids. Alcohol, a sedentary lifestyle, fried foods and ready-made meals are also to be avoided as part of this diet and to have a better lifestyle on a daily basis. This advice is valid for both the eating and fasting phases. It has been shown that the fasting periods are of little interest if the feeding phases are anarchic in terms of the quality and quantity of the food.

Advantages and disadvantages

The positive points of the 5:2 diet

  • Easy to understand and apply
  • Natural weight loss
  • Adaptable to all lifestyles
  • Food pleasure kept on normal eating days
  • Low frustration
  • Better tolerance to insulin
  • Fight against diabetes and obesity
  • Better physical performance
  • Feeling of general well being
  • Slows down cellular aging, oxidative stress and chronic inflammation
  • Allows you to relearn food sensations

The negative points of the 5:2 diet

  • Can be difficult to follow at first
  • Tolerates few deviations
  • Some symptoms can be painful the first few weeks (irritability, headaches, etc.)
  • Requires organization and rigor
  • Not very socially compatible on fasting days
  • Represents a risk of compensation by anarchic eating on normal days
  • Requires counting calories and basic knowledge of nutrition

Recommendations and precautions to take

What are the contraindications of the diet?

This diet is not recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, or for people with type 1 diabetes. No studies have been conducted on underweight individuals, those under 18 years of age and those over 70 years of age. In general, it is recommended to be accompanied by health professionals if it is the first time you are fasting.

Why can the 5:2 diet be difficult?

Many people are afraid of feeling hungry on fasting days. However, it is important to know that hunger does not just increase until it becomes unbearable. It comes and goes afterwards. The headaches that some people experience during fasting days are more likely to be caused by dehydration, hence the importance of staying well hydrated. The important thing is that the meal(s) taken during the fasting day be satiating and therefore contain(s) a source of protein and fiber to feel fully satisfied. In addition, the 5:2 diet allows people to rethink the concept of hunger. Instead of linking it to panic or craving, hunger becomes associated with success, pride or it can even be ignored.

There is also a transition period of about 3 to 6 weeks during which the body and brain adapt to this new eating pattern. This period can be uncomfortable and can lead to irritability, but once the body is used to it, the hunger level decreases and the mood is more positive.

Finally, there may be some social awkwardness during the fasting days. Ideally, the two fasting days should be scheduled when you have no social activities planned. It is also highly recommended that you occupy the time slots usually used for meals by doing something pleasant (walking, shopping, reading, etc.).

Is this diet right for you?

For the 5:2 diet to work for you, it is very important to adapt it to your lifestyle. There are no studies that have evaluated the best way to fast. Is it better to eat your 500 or 600 calories in one meal, in two meals or spread them out over the day? It is therefore necessary to adopt what suits one's lifestyle the most, but it seems that the longer the period of fasting, the greater the positive effects.

The 5:2 diet can be accessible to everyone, provided that you are motivated and ready to make big changes in your eating habits.

Is this diet compatible with sport?

Absolutely, sport and 5:2 fasting are compatible. This diet could even increase physical performance and reduce the oxidative stress caused by intensive sports. However, to reconcile the two, it is necessary to be very rigorous and to be accompanied by a health professional during the first weeks. To carry out a sports session, the body needs energy. In order to do so during the fasting phase, it must learn to use other energy production methods in complete safety. This requires a good control of the training, the food and to give the body enough time to adapt without forcing it.

The 5:2 diet before and after: how to keep the weight off?

In order to keep the weight off after the 5:2 diet, you just need to learn the necessary lessons. In addition to losing weight, the 5:2 diet is a great way to reconnect with your eating sensations and a better relationship with food. On the qualitative level, the 5:2 diet allows you to eat everything in the right proportions. By continuing to apply these notions in your daily diet, there is no reason to observe a weight gain. Remember also that this fasting method is a way of life that should be followed over the long term. Finally, in order not to regain weight, it is recommended that once the target weight has been reached, to continue to integrate one day of fasting per week.

Our opinion on the 5:2 diet

The 5:2 diet seems to be promising and effective on many levels. However, we must wait for the results of long-term studies that will give us a more comprehensive view of this eating method. This intermittent fasting method seems to be very interesting not only to reach and maintain a healthy weight but also to reconnect with one's food sensations and to find a calmer relationship with food. On the health side, this diet also has many positive impacts already demonstrated (fight against overweight, better insulin response, less chronic fatigue, etc.). However, be careful, it is a way of eating that remains difficult to establish and maintain in our modern society where food is accessible everywhere and all the time. It is a diet that requires determination, rigor and patience in order to reap all the benefits. Finally, there are as many ways of practicing intermittent fasting as there are individuals, so it's a matter of finding the rhythm and the method adapted to your daily life and to your expectations.

Abura: what is this diet to lose weight?

Although it is a recent development, the abura diet is not a new concept. It combines two methods of eating known for their health and slimming benefits: intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet (or "keto diet" or "very low carb diet"). The principle is based on alternating phases of fasting and phases of low-carbohydrate food intake, which is essentially composed of fat and protein.

The principle of the Abura diet

The Abura diet combines :
  • the ketogenic diet, a dietary method based on low carbohydrate consumption against high fat consumption;
  • intermittent fasting, a dietary habit based on fasting for a large part of the day (in addition to the night), thus concentrating a normal and sufficient caloric intake over a set number of hours.
Thus, the idea of the Abura diet is to fast about 16 hours a day and to consume low carbohydrate and high fat meals of good quality during the remaining 8 hours of the day.

The Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is a diet based on a greatly increased fat intake, a classic protein intake and a greatly reduced carbohydrate intake. It was initially introduced years ago to support treatments for epilepsy, then proposed for the management of certain cancers, Parkinson's disease, type II diabetes or in cases of overweight.

The ketogenic diet is based on precise daily macro-nutrient intakes:
  • Fat: 80% (against 40% recommended in the classic diet) ;
  • Carbohydrates: 5 to 10% (compared to 40% recommended in the classic diet);
  • Protein: 20%.
The principle is based on depriving the body of carbohydrates so that fats become its main source of energy. Thus, the body first draws on its glucose reserves, then draws on its lipid and fat reserves to produce ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate). These ketone bodies are synthesized in the liver, eliminated in part by breathing (generating a very specific breath) and are used to fuel the brain, heart, kidneys and muscles.

This state of ketosis would be the source of many health benefits, including :
  • preventing nerve cell degeneration;
  • anti-oxidant activity;
  • the protection of good cardiovascular function;
  • insulin sensitivity;
  • the requisition of fats;
  • etc.
More generally, ketosis helps to prevent many diseases.

However, in order to do this, the lipid intake must be of good quality: therefore, give preference to mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (avocado, first cold-pressed virgin olive oil, fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, etc.).

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting (or Intermittent Fasting) consists of not eating during part of the day (and night).

Easier to maintain than a classic fast, intermittent fasting alternates periods of classic food (generally 6 to 8 hours) and periods of fasting without any food intake (generally 15 to 18 hours). It is however allowed to drink water normally, as well as herbal teas and broths.

The caloric restriction during the fast leads to ketosis (as explained in the ketogenic diet) and to the cleansing of the digestive system, which allows many health interests such as
  • the prevention of cardiovascular risks ;
  • the improvement of the intestinal flora (microbiota);
  • the sensitivity to insulin;
  • the impact on HDL cholesterol;
  • helps to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress;
  • etc.
Fasting periods help relieve the digestive system, gain energy and allow the body to eliminate toxins more easily. These health improvements coupled with the potential daily caloric reduction (since intakes are limited to 6 or 8 hours) also leads to weight loss.

In practice, it is possible for example to organize one's day as follows: eat normally from noon to 8pm and then fast until noon the next day. (for the fasting known as "16/8") This formula is to be adapted to the schedule of each person.

It is also possible to fast one day out of two or two days in a week (for the fast known as "5:2"). The choice of formula depends on the lifestyle and preferences of each individual.

The application of the Abura diet

The interests of the Abura diet are now clearer: to use the body's fat reserves, to eliminate toxins and to protect and optimize health.

It is therefore practiced by alternating phases of fasting and phases of food intake composed essentially of lipids and proteins.

Example of a typical day:
  • from 8am to 12pm: water or herbal tea;
  • from 12:00 to 20:00: two or three meals consisting of 80% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbohydrates;
  • from 8pm to 8am: water or herbal tea.
Of course, always give priority to quality fats, i.e. unsaturated fatty acids.

The advantages of the Abura diet

Although there is a restriction during the fasting phases, the Abura diet does not require any real deprivation, since the authorized foods are very varied and can be consumed without caloric limit.

Furthermore, the Abura diet encourages the avoidance of industrial food and therefore the preference for home-made food. This helps to establish better eating habits in the long term.

The Abura diet allows for fat loss due to the ketone state of the body induced by the specific diet and the fasting periods. This is possible as long as the energy intake remains controlled.

Beyond helping to lose weight, the Abura diet is truly beneficial to health. It reduces cardiovascular risks, has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, eliminates toxins, increases energy, improves sleep, concentration, skin quality and pain... However, it must be practiced under the supervision of a health professional.

It is therefore interesting to maintain certain habits such as fasting from time to time or the presence of foods rich in unsaturated fatty acids, in the usual lifestyle following the diet.

Ideally, carbohydrates should be gradually reintroduced after the diet, but the presence of certain foods (pastries, cookies, etc.) should be kept to a minimum.

Finally, the Abura diet is completely compatible with vegetarian, halal, kosher and gluten-free diets.

The disadvantages of the Abura diet

The Abura diet is composed of very few or no fruits and vegetables, so vitamin and mineral deficiencies can quickly occur. Vitamins A, C, E, potassium, selenium, magnesium, calcium, beta-carotene, etc.

Moreover, the absence of cereals or legumes can also impact the intake of B vitamins, iron, iodine, magnesium... It is important to monitor these intakes, even if it means supplementing during the diet (food supplements).

A lack of fiber can also result from the absence of fruits, vegetables and cereals and cause stomach aches, an imbalance of the intestinal microbiota or constipation.

In terms of ease of use, a diet consisting almost exclusively of fats and punctuated by fasting phases remains difficult to implement, especially in social situations such as restaurants. This diet can be socially isolating.

The Abura diet is hardly compatible with a vegan diet, since the absence of legumes and cereals would have a huge impact on the necessary protein intake.

During the fasting phases, and in the ketone state - especially in the first days - the "cleansing" of the digestive system and of the body's toxins can lead to headaches, hypoglycemia, nausea, bad breath... We sometimes even talk about "ketogenic flu". These symptoms diminish as the days go by.

The quality of the lipids ingested is more than important. Too high a concentration of saturated or "trans" acids can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol and cardiovascular risks.

Ketone phases tend to acidify the urine and increase the risk of kidney stone formation and the overall impact on the kidneys, especially if the protein intake is high.

Although, objectively, both diets are effective individually (from a health or weight loss point of view), the Abura diet, which combines them, remains too recent to be the subject of convincing studies.

Precautions

It is important to be supervised by a physician or a professional when following the Abura Diet as with any other diet.

The Abura Diet is not recommended in cases of :
  • Type I diabetes;
  • heart, kidney or liver disease
  • high blood pressure;
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • hypercholesterolemia
  • eating disorders;
  • BMI less than 18.5 ;
  • pregnant or breast-feeding women;
  • children.

Prohibited foods (rich in carbohydrates)

Certain foods are prohibited:
  • fruits ;
  • sodas and sweetened beverages (juice, cold teas);
  • Cereals and starches (wheat, rice, potatoes, corn, etc.)
  • legumes (lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, etc.)
  • sweet products (cookies, candies, pastries, sweets, honey, etc.);
  • Savoury products and prepared meals (pies, pizzas, burgers, industrial soups, industrial sauces, pasta, etc.).

Permitted foods (low-carbohydrate, high-fat, protein-containing)

Permitted foods are the following:
  • oilseeds (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc.) ;
  • seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, etc.)
  • fatty fruits (avocado, olives);
  • fish, especially "small oily fish" (mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring);
  • poultry with skin (duck, chicken, hen);
  • meats (lamb, pork, beef, veal);
  • pure and first cold-pressed oils (olive, flax, coconut, capelin, hemp);
  • eggs (Chicken, quail);
  • cheese and cream;
  • soy and products rich in vegetable protein (tofu, tempeh);
  • water in large quantities and herbal teas or vegetable broths.

Foods to be avoided or eaten in very small quantities

Foods to be consumed in reduced quantities or to be avoided are
  • dairy products (yogurt, milk, fresh cheese) because they contain sugar (lactose)
  • vegetables;
  • fruits low in sugar (raspberries, lemons, red currants);
  • chocolate (prefer chocolate with more than 90% sugar content)
  • coffee (because it makes the liver work).
It is possible to occasionally use sweeteners (stevia, aspartame, sucralose) and to use almond or hazelnut powder as flour.

Conclusion

In order to lose weight sustainably, it is preferable to opt for a long-term dietary rebalancing or to adopt the Mediterranean diet (naturally rich in good quality fats and slightly less rich in carbohydrates).

It is important to identify and eliminate foods that are sources of intolerance and to practice regular sports activities.

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