What Is Intermittent Fasting, and How Does It Function?

April 26, 2022
What Is Intermittent Fasting, and How Does It Function?

Like any modern diet that gets spoken about, intermittent fasting can be difficult. However, it is recognized as being easier to follow than the usual drastic diets, and above all, everyone adapts it at their own pace! We tell you all about its benefits.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting consists of alternating between the duration of eating and the duration of fasting. The latter can last between 12 and 24 hours, depending on the method.

Intermittent fasting is inspired by the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that humans had in prehistoric times. At that time, the body could indeed experience long periods of fasting linked to the time needed to find food and hunt. 

Intermittent fasting comes from the idea that our body has kept this diet in memory and is therefore quite capable of replicating it. It is also regularly practiced in many religions.

If intermittent fasting can be scary, we must not forget that we naturally follow periods of fasting, how during the night for example!

The most common method of fasting is 16-8, which involves not eating for 16 hours straight. We then skip dinner or breakfast, as desired, to keep only two meals during the day. 

The idea is that during these two meals, we eat neither more nor less than usual, but balanced. It’s not about depriving yourself either! 

Also Read: The Advantages of Summer Seasonal Foods

Cheese, which is for example not recommended in many diets, is completely allowed. During fasting times, it is also important to drink plenty to compensate for the loss of water that the third meal is supposed to provide.

This fasting period can be applied once or several times a week, on weekends, or for periods of several weeks. Some choose to do it in the spring, after heavy meals in winter, or after having chained a lot of evenings that are a little too alcoholic, for example. The keyword is to adapt it according to your needs, and that is its main advantage: flexibility!

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting has many benefits.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting

The first effects sought generally relate to weight loss. Like other diets, fasting makes it possible to reduce visceral fat (that of the belly and organs). 

Because during a fast, the body cannot draw on food to find its source of energy: it then draws on existing fat stocks to have enough. Fasting also decreases the secretion of insulin, a hormone that helps store fat.

It stimulates the production of growth hormones, which decrease in adulthood. A deficiency of this hormone can notably facilitate the storage of body fat and increase cholesterol levels.

A period of fasting can also regulate feelings of fullness and help restore a healthy eating pattern. In particular, it limits deviations and snacking, which do not really help when trying to lose weight!

In general, fasting is ideal for detoxifying your body since it acts as a purge. Doing one after a holiday period or after having had some digestive problems allows the body to better clear the air to get back on the right foot!

If studies continue to be carried out to attest to its health benefits, some of them already show that intermittent fasting would limit the risk of certain diseases. Cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, cancers, obesity, … could also reduce the risk of asthma, allergies, and rheumatism, and facilitate resistance to oxidative stress. 

The researcher Valter Longo, of the University of California, affirms that it would therefore make it possible to live longer in good health.

Finally, followers of this diet testify to a boost in energy and, in terms of beauty, many find their complexion much more radiant!

Who can do intermittent fasting?

Who can do intermittent fasting

“I’m always hungry! ” … Do you recognize yourself? Intermittent fasting might just be able to help you with these little eating rhythm issues. Likewise, it can soothe you in case of digestive disorders.

If restrictive diets, where each calorie intake must be calculated, are not for you, intermittent fasting can also be a good alternative. If you want to lose a lot of weight, the ideal is to accompany it with regular physical activity.

However, keep in mind that not everyone is made to follow this type of diet. First, each person has a different metabolism that does not react in the same way when it comes to storing sugar and fat. 

Also, fasting should not be stressful as it could be counterproductive. In other words, if it becomes too hard for you to skip a meal, or even turns into an obsession, stop everything! 

Intermittent fasting is a way to feel better about yourself and good in your head, and should therefore never become a headache!

This diet is not recommended for pregnant women (unless otherwise advised by your doctor), for those who wish to have a child, or for breastfeeding women, but also for people with diabetes. 

If you are on long-term medical treatment, it is best to consult your doctor before starting.

It is also not recommended to fast if you practice intensive sport or if you are bulking.

Finally, never embark on intermittent fasting if you suffer from Eating Behavior Disorders (ED) such as bulimia or anorexia, at the risk of accentuating them.

How to do intermittent fasting?

The 16-8 method is first of all the most recommended because the most in line with our way of life.

To make your fast as successful as possible, we advise you first to do things at your own pace. You can start with a fasting schedule of once a week. Above all, do not start a fast for several weeks if you have never done one before!

If you are used to eating between meals, first start by keeping your usual three meals a day to eliminate snacking completely and more easily. 

Once this step is taken, start with an easier rhythm of fasting: first 12 hours, then 13 or 14 (depending on your reaction to this first fast),… until a rhythm of 16-8.

Once this habit is made, you can embark on fasts of up to 24 hours, but never go further: scientific studies show that beyond that, they no longer have any beneficial effect, and can otherwise pose serious risks to your health. 

Fasting should also remain occasional. Practiced repeatedly, it can cause fatigue and loss of concentration.

To find your rhythm, also choose which meal seems easier for you to skip: breakfast or dinner. There are no rules for this, and again it’s up to you to decide what works best for you. 

Some find that breakfast remains the most important meal of the day and that skipping promotes snacking throughout the day. 

Others find that it is easier for our social life to skip it in favor of dinner, especially when we are used to going out to restaurants with friends. 

In any case, it is important to eat your fill, without restriction, without trying to compensate for the meal you have skipped.

During your fasting periods, it is important to drink plenty of water, much more than normal. The body needs at least 1.5 liters of water per day in addition to the 1.5 liters provided by our diet.

It is also possible to drink herbal teas, vegetable broths or preferably cold-pressed juices. If you have your own fruit press, even better!

You now know all about the benefits of intermittent fasting! So, are you tempted by the experience?

Photo: Pexels/Mikhail Nilov

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Margaud Raynaud is a beauty expert with over 10 years of experience in the industry. She has a passion for sharing her knowledge and tips with others and has a particular interest in skincare and makeup. When she's not writing about health and beauty, Margaud enjoys trying out new products and experimenting with different looks. Follow her blog for expert advice and inspiration for living your best life.

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