Everything you need to know about intermittent fasting and how it works
November 14, 2022
Intermittent fasting is today one of the most popular trends in the world of health.
People are doing it for three big reasons: to improve their health, to simplify their lifestyle and eating routine, and to lose weight.
And it is that numerous studies have shown that it has powerful effects on your body and your brain.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is basically an eating pattern that works in cycles of fasting and eating.
It is not about what you eat and what not, but rather about respecting the periods in which you fast. That is why it cannot be called a diet but an eating pattern.
You can drink non-caloric liquids, such as water, tea and coffee, but without sugar or milk.
In fact, fasting is a situation that man has been in for millions of years naturally. Our hunting and gathering ancestors went many times without food as they depended solely on what was around them and as a result the human body evolved to be able to survive and function without food for long periods of time. Along these lines, it is more natural for the human body to fast from time to time as opposed to eating 3 or 4 times a day every day of the year.
Even ancient and religious practices practice fasting, as is the case of Islam with Ramadan, Christianity with Lent, Judaism with godalias and Buddhism, which tends to eat intermittently very often.
What types of Intermittent Fasting are there?The most popular methods today are:
- The 16/8 method: it's about skipping breakfast with the idea of restricting your eating window to 8 hours. A good time is to eat between 1 and 9 pm. Also known as the Lengains protocol, it is probably the most practiced.
- Eat-stop-eat: It consists of fasting 24 hours, once or twice a week. The most common is to have dinner, and not eat anything until dinner the next day.
- The 5:2 diet: in this method the idea is to consume only about 600 on two non-consecutive days of the week.
With either of these methods, calorie intake is automatically reduced so weight loss should occur as long as you don't overeat during periods when you can eat.
How does intermittent fasting affect the body?When you fast, several things happen in your body at the cellular and molecular level. Let's see them:
- Human Growth Hormonal: Growth levels shoot up to five times more than normal, favoring fat burning and muscle gain. It can also increase the rate of metabolism. It also supports the brain hormone BDND, which may help the growth of new nerve cells, protect against Alzheimer's and improve brain health.
- Insulin: cells become more receptive to insulin, which reduces their resistance and thus also reduces the risk of certain health imbalances such as diabetes. This sensitivity causes insulin levels to drop, causing more of the hormone norepinephrine to be released, which is responsible for making stored fat more accessible.
- Cell repair: When your body fasts, cells begin a repair process that includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old, unusable proteins that accumulate in their nucleus. In this regard, intermittent fasting reduces bad cholesterol, triglycerides, possible inflammatory processes, and sugar levels, which directly helps to have a healthy heart.
- Gene expression: there are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against health imbalances.
Practicing intermittent fasting is something that you may already practice without realizing it, since there are many people who do not feel hungry when they wake up.
Fasting is one of the many strategies that could improve your health and quality of life, but it is not something that works for everyone and in the end there is no one way to do things, especially when it comes to nutrition and health.
Eating healthy, exercising, living without stress, and getting enough sleep are really the most important factors to always focus on.
If you think intermittent fasting might work for you, the only way to know is to try it. If after a few weeks you feel good and it suits your lifestyle, practicing intermittent fasting could be a powerful tool for losing weight and improving your health.