Intermittent fasting can help improve immunity, potentiate detoxification and also improve mental alertness and agility. This type of fasting consists of not eating solid foods between 16 and 32 hours a few times a week on a scheduled basis, returning to a usual diet, preferably based on foods low in sugar and fat.
To obtain the most benefits from intermittent fasting the most common strategy is to go without food for 14 or 16 hours. During this period you should only ingest liquids such as water, tea and coffee without sugar, but this lifestyle is only recommended for healthy people and should be done with support from a doctor, nurse or health professional who is aware of this type of fasting and so they can ensure that it is well done and works for your health.
Main types of intermittent fasting
There are different ways of doing this type of fasting, although in all of them there is a period where food is restricted, followed by a period where you can eat. The main types are:
- 16H Fasting, which consists in staying between 14 and 16 hours without eating, including the sleeping period, and only eating in the remaining 8 hours of the day. For example, dinner at 9 in the evening and only eating at 1 pm the next day.
- 24-hour fasting, is done for an entire day, for 2 or 3 times a week.
- 36-hour fasting, consists in not eating for 1 full and a half days. For example, you eat at 9 at night, spend the next day without eating, and only go back to eating at 9 in the morning the other day. This type of fasting should only be done by people more accustomed to fasting, and should always be done with the guidance of a professional.
- Eat 5 days and restrict 2 days, which means eating for 5 days of the week normally, and in other 2 days you should reduce the amount of calories to about 500.
In the fasting period, water, teas and coffee can be consumed without any restriction and there should be no addition of sugar or sweeteners. It is common in the beginning to feel very hungry and in the days that follow until your body gets used to it. If you feel very hungry, you should eat some light food, because no one should suffer from adopting this habit.
What are the benefits
The main benefits of intermittent fasting are:
- Accelerates the metabolism: Contrary to belief fasting does not decrease metabolism if it is done for controlled short periods, because it actually accelerates the metabolism and the burning of fat. If the fasting period is above 48h then metabolism can slow down.
- It regulates hormones such as insulin, norepinephrine and growth hormones: it helps balance the body's hormones that are associated with weight loss or weight gain, such as decreased insulin and increased norepinephrine and growth hormones.
- Does not promote sagging: This diet does not decrease muscle mass as in other diets that decrease calories largely and, in addition, helps to increase muscle due to the production of growth hormones.
- Eliminates defective cells from the body: the body becomes more active in eliminating substances and altered cells, that could cause diseases, such as cancer, for example.
- It has anti-aging action: because it stimulates the body to live longer, avoiding diseases and making the body's organs and tissues live longer.
Besides these reasons, fasting helps hormonal regulation, which in turn make you feel more alert and active, giving you a sense of well-being.
What to eat after fasting
After the fasting period, it is recommended you eat foods that are easily digestible and without excess fats or sugars, to achieve better results.
After fasting, it is important to start eating foods like rice, cooked potatoes, soup, purees in general, boiled eggs, lean or grilled meats, which are easy to digest. In addition, the longer you stay without eating, the lower the amount of food should be, especially in your first meal, to ensure good digestive capacity and well being.
Foods that are not recommended
Fried or fatty foods such as potato chips, white sauce, ice cream, stuffed biscuits, or frozen food such as lasagne should be avoided.
In order to achieve fast weight loss with intermittent fasting, it is also important to practice physical activity, such as walking or going to the gym, never on an empty stomach, and preferably with the guidance of a physical education professional.
Who cannot do intermittent fasting
Fasting should not be done it you have any kind of disease, especially in cases of anemia, hypertension, low blood pressure or kidney failure or if you need to use controlled drugs on a daily basis:
- People with a history of anorexia or bulimia;
- Pregnant or women breastfeeding;
However, even apparently healthy people should make an appointment with their GP to assess their condition and perform tests, such as blood glucose, before starting this type of diet.