Intermittent Fasting – Fashion Thing or Health Benefit?
Experts are still debating whether the usual daily rhythm of five meals – three main meals and two snacks – is the most suitable option for the human body.
There is an opinion that our ancestors ate food only a few times a day. Even today, people, driven by various reasons, choose to include intermittent fasting in their lifestyle.
What do such moments of respiration give to the body? And is fasting really for everyone?
Types Of Fasting
According to Christian tradition, the time before Easter is the month of fasting, but there are people who practice intermittent fasting all year round.
It is a purposeful omission of meals according to a certain regime. The types of fasting are different, but the most popular methods of intermittent fasting are two:
Shared fasting for 24 hours
Under this method, the time of day is divided into two parts: 16 hours of fasting and eight hours during which the planned meals are taken (for example, food is only eaten between 12.00 and 20.00).
People who are accustomed to not having breakfast daily, to a greater or lesser extent, inadvertently observe interrupted fasting.
Shared weekly fasting
The method assumes that we divide the days of the week into two parts: for five days the person maintains a normal diet and for two days fasts, with only a minimal amount of food (around 500-700 kcal / day).
During the hours of the day, as long as a person does not eat other foods, it is permissible to consume non-calorie beverages, such as:
- black coffee;
- tea without sugar;
- beverages sweetened with sweeteners (note – sweeteners are sugar substitutes that do not contain energy).
We still recommend it to follow meals that comply with the basic principles of a healthy diet, namely the inclusion of foods rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Interrupted fasting is just one way to fast. Another alternative is to abandon a particular product group, such as meat or dairy products, but even in this case you need to monitor your health carefully.
If you have low iron levels or a lack of a mineral or a particular vitamin, say vitamin D, you need to consider whether dietary restrictions are really necessary.
Relatively harmless fasting could be giving up sugary products – sugar definitely does more harm to the body than good.
However, if you also want to try intermittent fasting, I recommend that you carefully consider the benefits and potential risks.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
- People who observe different types of fasting mention subjective well-being.
- Weight loss, stabilization of sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, improvement of cognitive functions are also observed. However, it should be recalled that there is no solid evidence of long-term benefits!
- Intermittent fasting is an excellent alternative to the classic fasting, which begins on February 17 this year.
Risks of intermittent fasting
- This is a lifestyle that is difficult to achieve in the long run. As soon as the usual regimen is interrupted, there is a high chance that the weight will return, and sugar and cholesterol levels will change.
- It is difficult enough to connect with an indefinite daily rhythm, for example, if you work shifts, have variable working hours, travel or your daily life is determined by other factors that do not allow you to follow the regime.
- For some people, stopping fasting without first consulting a doctor can make their health worse.
What must be taken into account?
It may take several weeks to get used to the new regime. We recommend setting the ratio 16: 8 gradually, for example, initially giving up food for only 12 or 14 hours, and gradually increasing the time to 16 hours.
In the first weeks, follow your well-being – isn’t there an excessive appetite for high energy, cravings for sugary or fatty foods, and a craving for unhealthy foods?
Stopping fasting does not mean that it is possible to eat unhealthy foods without long-term health consequences.
We should also consider that in cases where the body does not receive food for a long time, such as during periods of relaxation and fasting lasting from one to several days, it may accumulate fat reserves as a protective response to starvation.
This way of life is not suitable for everyone, even if the person is healthy and feels good.
However, if you have a chronic illness, we recommend it to consult your doctor before stopping fasting, who will explain whether such a lifestyle is appropriate.
In some situations, such as oncological diseases, migraines, gastrointestinal diseases, in the postoperative period, sudden changes in the daily routine may worsen the condition.
We also advise seniors to follow the classic basic principles of healthy eating and lifestyle.
If your nutritionist or doctor has given you the green light to stop fasting, be sure to monitor your well-being for the first days and weeks.
Often people experience mood swings, irritability, headaches, dizziness, anxiety or increased appetite.
People with a high level of physical activity should carefully consider the need to follow such a meal regime.
Also, intermittent fasting is categorically not suitable for:
- pregnant and breastfeeding mothers;
- children and adolescents up to 18 years of age;
- people suffering from eating disorders;
- in case of various diseases.
The Bottom Line
No kind of fasting is a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. However, during this regimen, it is possible to absorb enough food within eight hours to provide your body with all the necessary nutrients.
The responsibility lies with the person himself – the chief thing is to choose a healthy diet.