Many people use intermittent fasting to lose weight, improve their health, and simplify their lifestyle.
Several studies show that it can have positive effects on your body and brain, and even help you live longer.
Below you will find a complete beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting (intermittent fasting) is a diet that cycle through periods of fasting and eating. It does not indicate what foods you should eat, but rather when you should eat them. In this respect, it is not a diet in the generally accepted sense of the word, but more accurately it can be described as a diet. Common methods of intermittent fasting include a daily 16-hour fast or a 24-hour fast twice a week. Fasts have been practiced throughout human evolution. Ancient hunter-gatherers did not have supermarkets, refrigerators, or food all year round. Sometimes they could not find anything to eat and went hungry.
As a result, humans evolved into the ability to live without food for extended periods. Fasting from time to time is more natural than consuming 3–4 (or more) meals a day. Fasting is also often used for religious or spiritual reasons, including in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism.
Note: Intermittent fasting is a diet that cycles through periods of fasting and eating.
There are several different methods of intermittent fasting – all of which involve dividing the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
During fasting, you either eat little or eat nothing at all.
- Method 16/8:Also called the Lean gains protocol, it involves skipping breakfast and limiting the daily meal period to 8 hours, for example, from 1 pm to 9 pm. Then you fast for 16 hours (up to 1 pm).
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, such as skipping food from dinner one day to dinner the next day.
- Diet 5: 2: With the help of this method you consume only 500-600 calories two days a week, not consecutive, but the remaining 5 days of eating normally.
By reducing the number of calories, you eat, all of these methods should lead to weight loss, unless you compensate for this by increasing the amount of food consumed during the meal periods.
The 16/8 method is considered by many to be the simplest, most sustainable, and easiest to use. It is also the most popular.
Note: There are several different methods of intermittent fasting. They all divide the day or week into eating and fasting periods.
When you fast, several things happen to your body at the cellular and molecular level.
For example, the body regulates hormone levels to make stored fat more available.
Your cells also initiate important repair processes and alter gene expression.
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH): During fasting, growth hormone levels increase, increasing 5 times. It’s good for fat loss and muscle gain.
- Insulin: Insulin sensitivity increases and insulin levels drop sharply. Lower insulin levels make stored fat more bioavailable.
- Cell repair: When you are hungry, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that accumulate inside cells.
- Gene expression: There are positive changes in gene function associated with longevity and disease protection.
These changes in hormone levels, cell function, and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Note: When you fast, human growth hormone levels rise, and insulin levels fall. The cells in your body also alter gene expression and trigger important cellular repair processes.
Losing weight is the most common reason people try intermittent fasting. By forcing you to eat less food, intermittent fasting can automatically lower your calorie intake. Also, intermittent fasting alters hormone levels, which promotes weight loss. In addition to lowering insulin levels and raising growth hormone levels, it increases the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine (norepinephrine). Because of these changes in hormones, short-term fasting can increase the metabolic rate by 3.6-14% . By helping you eat fewer and burn more calories, intermittent fasting induces weight loss by changing both sides of the calorie equation. Research shows that intermittent fasting can be a very powerful weight loss aid. A 2014 observational study found that such a diet can cause 3–8% weight loss over 3–24 weeks, which is significant compared to most weight loss studies.
Note: Intermittent fasting can slightly boost your metabolism while helping you eat fewer calories. This is an amazingly effective way to lose weight and lose belly fat.
“Caloric restriction consists of a drastic reduction in calorie intake, but without incurring malnutrition or a lack of essential nutrients”.
The Mediterranean diet, of which I spoke in my two previous articles, determines some of its positive effects, especially when combined with caloric restriction (“caloric restriction “). In many studies, this approach has been shown to increase longevity and reduce the risk of age-related diseases in animals. The first studies in humans are confirming these results in humans as well. Many researchers believe that the practice of caloric restriction will increase the duration of healthy human life, especially when combined with physical exercise, so that it can increase by at least 5-10 years, compared to current standards.
If we consider the LARN that is the recommended levels of intake of the various nutrients, and therefore the number of calories to be consumed about sex and age, a cut should be made approximately in the order of 25-30 percent to follow a calorie restriction regimen.
- To improve the sensitivity to insulin, a hormone involved in glucose intolerance (as in diabetes).
- Reducing the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing the level of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
- Improve the activity of telomerase, enzymes that protect our DNA from aging.
- Counteract the lowering of levels of DHEA, a hormone that decreases with aging, increasing the risk of certain diseases; in this way, the caloric restriction contrasts the endocrine-senescence.
- Lower inflammation, fight oxidative stress, and counteract immuno-senescence.
- Counteracting neuro-degenerative diseases and their progression.
- Reduce DNA damage and improve gene expression by promoting the activation of “beneficial” genes and the silencing of unfavorable genes. These changes in gene expression are mainly responsible for the positive consequences related to health and life expectancy. For example, it increases the expression of genes associated with DNA-repair mechanisms and of genes that stabilize DNA (such as Sirt-1).
- Stimulating autophagy, a process that allows the elimination of substances that accumulate inside the cell with age, causing numerous damages. CR induces autophagy by helping to improve the fitness and metabolic functionality of the cell.
- It shows itself capable of reprogramming stem cells and prolonging their ability to self-renew, proliferate, differentiate, and replace cells in different adult tissues.
- Having an inhibitory effect on a cellular messenger, mTOR can help extend lifespan and delay aging through active interference in mTORC1 regulation; the prolonged activation of mTORC1 can lead to the progression of age-related disease.
However, further studies are still needed to fully understand the interactions between CR, diet composition, exercise, and the contribution of other environmental and psychological factors to the metabolic and molecular pathways that regulate health and longevity. It should be noted that this regimen is not intended as a fast and must be followed safely, on the advice of professionals, about the patient.
Ultimately, that is not the only downside to a prolonged calorie or protein-restricted diet. With such a diet you also risk:
- Reduction of growth hormones, insulin, and thyroid hormones
- Muscle reduction due to aging (also called sarcopenia)
- Reduction in bone mass with the consequent risk of osteoporosis
- Poor heart health (IGF1 contributes to good heart function)
- Amenorrhea (interruption of the menstrual cycle)
- The weakening of the immune system and slowing of the healing
- Reduction of libido and fertility
- Worsening of athletic performance and strength
- Impaired cognitive ability and worsening of memory
Intermittent fasting is truly a powerful means of reducing excess fat. Its action on specific hormones such as GH, insulin, and noradrenaline make it an effective tool for reducing inflammatory abdominal fat.
Furthermore, even the calorie reduction in the strict sense that occurs during intermittent fasting contributes to weight loss.
Several studies show that fasting reduces the inflammatory state of the body.
This leads to a consequent benefit against numerous chronic-degenerative diseases that develop from a chronic inflammatory condition.
A series of benefits of intermittent fasting related to heart health 11 make it particularly suitable for keeping the cardiovascular system in perfect condition.
Specifically, intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation, blood sugars (improves insulin sensitivity), triglycerides, and “bad” LDL cholesterol. All this produces a synergy that promotes heart and arterial health.
Several studies show a correlation between intermittent fasting and special protection against cancer cells. It is now becoming increasingly clear how reducing the quantity and frequency of meals can protect better than any other defence against the development of “crazy cells”.
Mice subjected to intermittent fasting can live 30% longer up to a whopping 83% longer! (means almost double the length of the waist).
For the potential of fasting regarding longevity, you can also read the article on the Longevity Diet by Prof Valter Longo.
This benefit of intermittent fasting is associated with its general anti-aging effect but is also expressed in a marked way towards neurons.
Some studies show that intermittent fasting stimulates nerve regeneration processes (postnatal neurogenesis). It also protects against neurodegenerative diseases, and Alzheimer’s.
In the early 2000s, scientists studying the benefits of fasting found that it not only reduced blood pressure in a group of 174 study participants, but that the effects lasted longer than expected. Those whose blood pressure was above 140/90 underwent a medically supervised water-only fast for an average of 10-11 days.
For two to three days before the fast began, their diet was limited to fruits and vegetables. After fasting, the researchers found that 89 percent of the participants had blood pressure below 140/90, which was the limit for hypertension at the time of the study. The average reduction was a whopping 37/13, and those who benefited from the greatest reduction were those with the highest blood pressure. Participants whose blood pressure was above 180/110 experienced an average reduction of 60/17 at the end of the study.
A further reduction in blood pressure was experienced after participants started eating, suggesting that fasting may have begun to normalize pressure that could be sustained. The researchers followed 42 of the participants after 27 weeks and found that the group’s mean blood pressure was a good 123/77. They concluded that although generalizations cannot be made, the findings suggest that people with high blood pressure can enjoy sustainable benefits by continuing to eat a balanced diet.
Fasting can help lower blood pressure, as can the foods you eat. The quality of health is directly affected by what you give your body. Since blood pressure is not an isolated aspect of your health, but rather is linked to other functions of your body, it is important to be careful in normalizing it.
There are foods you should avoid and others you should start eating to help maintain normal blood pressure. It is worth noting that those living in the Mediterranean region are among the healthiest and longest-lived people in the world. The Mediterranean diet is known for being rich in olives and olive oil, fresh vegetables, fruit, seafood, and, rarely, red meat.
This diet is low in sugar with moderate amounts of protein; it is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Dr. Stephen Sinatra promotes the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) diet which emphasizes avoiding “foods that contain sugar, refined white flour, partially hydrogenated oils, processed fruit juices, and omega-6 oils such as corn, safflower, soy, and canola. ”
KetoFast, which combines a cyclical ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting with cyclical partial fasting is another way to optimize your health. My KetoFast protocol incorporates healthy fats that help feel satiety and accelerate autophagy.
Some tasty and heart-healthy foods can easily be integrated into your daily routine. Rocket is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, all important for heart health. Pistachios, olive oil, tomatoes, and celery are foods that help keep arteries flexible and lower blood pressure.
Many studies have highlighted the benefits that intermittent fasting has on health: in addition to helping in weight loss and in regulating frequency and blood pressure, this type of diet reduces the production of free radicals that are responsible for stress. Oxidative. Furthermore, fasting stimulates our cells to “reactivate” defense mechanisms against oxidative stress, thus suppressing inflammation, also thanks to the ability of cells, after a period of fasting, to better regulate the use of sugars in the blood.
The intermittent fasting diet is already known because it can improve insulin sensitivity and because it protects against fatty liver.
Now a new study by the Deutsches Zentrum fur Diabetesforschung (DZD) of the German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIFE), Germany, reveals that it can also help keep pancreatic fat levels low, as they have seen in experiments in mice…
Annette Schürmann and Tim J. Schulz found that overweight mice with a predisposition to diabetes have an extraordinary accumulation of fat cells within the pancreas.
The researchers initially divided the mice into two groups: the rodents in the first group could eat as much as they wanted whenever they wanted.
The second group was placed on an intermittent fasting regime whereby they received unlimited portions one day and nothing the next day.
After five weeks of testing, the researchers observed differences in the pancreas of the mice. Fat cells accumulated in the pancreas of group 1 mice while group 2 mice had very few deposits in this organ.
Then analyzing the pancreatic adipocytes of the mice, the researchers found “that increased insulin secretion causes the islets of Langerhans of animals at risk of diabetes to become depleted more rapidly and, after some time, to completely stop functioning. ”, As Schürmann herself reports in the press release.
The study, therefore, suggests that we need to limit fat not only in the liver but also inside the pancreas to prevent type 2 diabetes, and to limit fat in the pancreas it could prove especially useful to carry on a diet that includes intermittent fasting.
It is a fairly easy diet to follow, non-invasive, and, above all, does not require drugs.
By skipping meals, you create a calorie deficit and thus lose weight. Of course, if you don’t compensate for your fasting periods with foods that are high in sugar or fat since this type of diet doesn’t necessarily say what you can and what you can’t eat. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting, when done correctly, also helps prevent type 2 diabetes. Also, the body learns to process the food consumed during this time more efficiently.
A study has also shown that a combination of strength training and the 16/8 method allows you to reduce a higher percentage of body fat than is eliminated by training alone. However, there were no indices of muscle growth in the subjects included in the study.
Note: This type of diet is not particularly suitable for people with diabetes or high blood pressure and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Before practicing this type of diet, it is best to consult a doctor.
By now we are all familiar with the benefits of calorie restriction. However, many of us do not want to live a private life of one of its greatest pleasures: food. Fortunately, there is a longstanding fast. When most people hear the term fast, they think they will last days without any sustenance. Forget about it. Because when you add the word intermittent, everything changes.
Intermittent fasting is not a diet; we repeat it, not a diet. Rather, it is a food model. With intermittent fasting, regular periods of fasting are incorporated into the meal plan. Unlike most diets, this practice says nothing about what you eat (although we all know that some foods are better for us than others, right?), But rather when you eat. It is also not a form of extreme calorie restriction. It is a practice that is good for your health and should make you feel good, not weak.
Studies have investigated fasting for decades, and some of them suggest that people who fast have better memories, better cognition, and more energy. Other studies show that fasting has benefits for heart health, reduces the risk of disease, and prolongs life span. One of the biggest benefits supporting the research is weight loss. A recent study showed weight loss between 3% and 8% in three to 24 weeks, a sizable figure compared to most weight loss research. This same study also found that participants lost an impressive 4% to 7% of their waist circumference. Further findings concluded that intermittent fasting causes less muscle loss than standard forms of continuous calorie restriction.
The obvious answer is when you are fasting, you are eating fewer calories, but there is more. Intermittent fasting changes both sides of the weight-loss equation: fewer calories in and more calories out. The diet modifies hormone levels, increasing the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine and normalizing the levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone). It also lowers insulin levels and increases human growth hormone. All this together leads to a 3.6% to 14% increase in metabolic rate, studies show.
Intermittent fasting makes your body more efficient. Hormonal changes make stored body fat more accessible and decreasing insulin levels increase insulin sensitivity. Without going into a real science lesson, we can say that the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely it is to use the food you consume efficiently.
Frequently Asking Questions
Why am I not losing weight on intermittent fasting?
Calorie restriction or intermittent fasting is not known to be a short-term weight loss plan; in fact, it sends signals to your brain to store fats.
What can I eat that will not break my fast?
- Black coffee
- Plain tea
- Salt water
- Unsweetened electrolyte water
- Unsweetened sparkling water
- Lemon juice (1 tbsp or less)
- Apple cider vinegar
Can you live off 500 calories a day?
A 500-calorie diet is an extreme sort of a very low-calorie diet (VLCD). It requires you to drastically reduce the quantity of food you eat, usually to a maximum of 800 calories per day.