You have probably already heard of or read about the so called intermittent fasting. This term and the idea behind it have been really popping out in the media and scientific circles in the field of healthy eating and weight loss lately. But is this maybe the next “trend”? Let’s take a look at the principles standing at the basis of this type of eating and see if it has any support from science and tradition.
The practice of fasting exists since the ancient of times and can be found in one form or another in every religion. In our lands, the most common are the periods of fasting prompted by Christianity or the so called wheat diet inherited from Petar Danov. In this sense, fasting has not only physical dimensions like cleansing of the body and weight loss but is also related to mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.
Indeed, the studies show that intermittent fasting could have beneficial effects on the brain functions including learning and memory as well as to contribute to the creation of new nervous cells. An increased resistance of the cardiovascular and immune systems is also observed as well as defense against depression and stress.
Intermittent fasting has an effect not only on health but also on the figure. According to studies, in comparison to traditional diets where the calorie intake is limited, intermittent fasting shows similar results in relation to loss of weight and fats. The advantage of intermittent fasting, however, is that it does not require daily counting of calories and continuous limitation of the type or quantity of food and for the majority of people it is easier to follow.
Intermittent fasting or starving?
But what does intermittent fasting mean and how is it different from starving? In intermittent fasting we are not exposed to continuous limitations; instead we alternate days or hours of fasting (according to the respective way) with days or hours in which we eat normally. The most common variants of this type of diet are:
- Eating in a specific time window – in it we have a specific period of time during the day (most often from 8 to 12 hours) in which we eat and during the rest of the day we fast without food intake. Thus, for example, if we are following the 8-hour-window regimen, we can have breakfast at 9 AM after which we can eat until 5 PM. There is no limitation of how much and what type of food to consume in these 8 hours as long as we are not eating during the rest of the time.
- The 5:2 regimen – this regiment is more similar to the traditional diets but the difference is that in only 2 (consecutive) days of the week we limit the intake of low-carb food and the calorie intake to 800–1,000 kcal per day.
- The simulating fasting diet — limitation of the calorie intake for 3–5 days to 770–1,100 kcal daily so that the cells can use up the glucose they’ve accumulated and start using the accumulated fats in the body for energy. This contributes not only to reducing the weight and the percent of fats in the body but also to regulating of the blood pressure and slowing down of the aging processes.
Up to this moment, scientists have not reached a consensus on which is the most efficient method and therefore you should coordinate your decision with the rhythm of eating which will be the most natural to you. Surely it has happened that you don’t feel like having breakfast in the morning or to skip dinner because you are not hungry – probably the body is naturally striving to rest from digesting and cell renewal.
In no case however should you run to extremes and allow this regime to become periods of starving and overeating. Strive to stick to moderate fasting and normal eating.
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