Intermittent Fasting - Tips & Review



Intermittent fasting is easy to follow. In this article, I want to share with you my feedback. However, if you have any health issue, please ask advice to a doctor first. Some medications need to be taken during meal time, so do not take any risk.


As a reminder: a traditional fasting means stop eating on one or several weeks. Only water and herbal tea are allowed, and sometimes a vegetable broth for diner.



Intermittent fasting is simply ‘half’ fasting!

Instead of spending several full days without eating, we will alternate periods of fasting and other periods with normal meals in a day.


In order for your intermittent fasting to be efficient, you have to eat healthy and in reasonable quantities. Define the basics of healthy food habits would be too long, however here are a few recommendations: prefer organic food, sheep or goat dairy products (to avoid cow’s milk growth hormones), and white meat instead of red meat. Avoir ready-to-eat and industrial meals, refined sugar,…


Intermittent fasting is super easy. There are different types adapted to your needs.



Intermittent fasting’s various options

  • The most known type in France is the 5/2: 2 days fasting and 5 days eating normally. Compared to other types, I think it is quite difficult to do it.

  • The simple 16/8: 16 hours fasting, and 8 hours eating. For example, it means that you can eat from 12 to 19 (end of diner at 20). Between 21 and 12 the next day, you don’t eat. During these 8 hours of eating, you have to be careful: eat healthy, don’t eat snacks and don’t eat more than your stomach needs. The ratio can evolve to 17/7 or even 18/6 according to your needs. The longer is the fasting, the more efficient it will be.

  • Spontaneous intermittent fasting: you listen to your body, you are the one who will decide when to eat, and when to stop. There is no rule, other than your own body. We usually eat 3 times per day out of an habit. Sometimes, we also eat because of our emotions. The brain says it’s hungry, but does the body really need it?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet! It’s a lifestyle.

More and more people practice intermittent fasting as a real lifestyle, everyday. Some do intermittent fasting only when they need (after the end of year celebrations). You have to choose what type is the best for you.


There are numerous benefits: economy of time and money, weight loss, and a real well-being.


The word ‘breakfast’ literally means ‘break the fast’. Your ‘lunch’ should then become your ‘breakfast’.


Practicing intermittent fasting, you will have an healthier lifestyle. The key to succeed is trying to cook by yourself as much as possible.



An example of 16/8 day:

  • Wake-up: 1 large glass of water (optional: some lemon juice, a tea spoon of organic honey, or a cold herbal tea). It will help you to re-hydrate your body and calm the ‘fire’ in the stomach. When it will calm down, you shouldn’t feel any hunger. Try to wake-up 15minutes earlier in order to do some stretching exercices, yoga or meditation.

  • If you are hungry before lunch time, drink more water or herbal tea. The last hour from 11 to 12 will be the more difficult at the beginning.

  • Lunch: a healthy meal with vegetables, cereals (rice, wheat,…), oleaginous (almonds, nuts,…), proteins (vegetal or animal). Enjoy your meal, but do not eat more than your stomach needs. Also, prefer ‘good’ fats such as: avocado, peanut butter, nuts, almonds, cashew nuts, olive oil,…

  • Diner: once again, a healthy meal with steamed vegetables with, for example, a boiled egg or rice congee,… Some say that it’s better to have a light meal, however I don’t follow this rule. I eat normally, but early (around 6:30) so, when I go to bed, digestion process has already begun and I sleep well.

  • If you choose to eat between 12 and 20, try to have diner around 19 to be sure to have time to eat calmly and enjoy the meal.

Benefits

  • Insulin production reduced

Insulin is the hormone that causes weight gain: it is responsible of storage. When you overweight, your body produces too much of this hormone and develops a resistance. This resistance is a big issue and is linked to a lack of physical activity and the abundance of food in our modern society. With intermittent fasting, your body learns to work with less insulin: your sensibility is increased. This unique change triggers many other benefits such as easy muscle gain, less fats storage, quicker satiety.



  • Growth hormone increased

The ‘youth hormone’, as we often call it (thanks to its rejuvenating almost immediate effect), or ‘fitness hormone’ (since it’s also produced during workouts), is more and more difficult to product while aging. It’s one of the reasons why losing weight is more difficult when getting older.

This hormone helps to create muscular mass and allow to quickly recover.


The first way to boost this hormone is to exercise. We are all aware of that. Another way to do it is… fasting!


Growth hormone drastically increases when we stop eating (in 24 hours, it grows by 1300% for women, and 2000% for men).


More than enhancing your physical condition (it helps to create muscle and reduce fats), this hormone slow down aging signs.


In a few words: when you are fasting, you reduce the level of insulin and increase the level of growth hormones. It accelerates metabolism. A huge benefit, especially for weight loss.



  • Weight Loss

In order to lose weight, you ‘only’ have to eat less than what you burn off. There are a million solutions to succeed (smaller plates, sport), however reduce the number of meals is one of the easiest solutions.


It may look stupid, the shorter time you spent eating in a day, the most you will reduce the calorie intake. Hormonal effects will complete the effect. In this way, no need to put too much efforts.


Studies show that the calorie intake decrease by 30% when doing intermittent fasting… That means around 1kilo per week (if you eat healthy).


However, I would like to warn you: if you eat a lot of sugar, cakes, drink alcohol,… You won’t lose a gram! It’s not because you are doing intermittent fasting that you can’t gain weight.


No miracle when it comes to weight loss: eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, drink water, avoid alcohol and sugar.



  • Decrease body fat

It’s a good thing to be lighter on the scale, but it doesn’t mean anything if what you are losing are muscle or water. Thanks to fasting, the main thing you will lose is: fats!


This is mainly thanks to the hormonal effects we saw before: with less insulin, more growth hormones and others (adrenaline and cortisol), fats will be easily evacuated. Fat will mainly reduce at the waist level, especially visceral fat will be lost (it’s the most dangerous one because it sticks around the organs). Compared to a normal calorie decrease, intermittent fasting maintain the muscular mass.


More muscles means less fat. There are two benefits: the % of the fat decrease, and muscles use more energy than all other tissue.


In other words: reduce the time of eating will help you to lose calories without even thinking about it, while increasing metabolism capacities that will also help to lose weight.



  • Diabetes risks reduced

Diabetes type 2 is triggered by your lifestyle and food habits (unlike type 1). The main issue is the too large amount of sugar in the blood, and not enough insulin to stock this sugar: sugar concentrations become toxic. The body doesn’t react to insulin anymore.


Fasting directly impacts the level of sugar, and help to prevent the apparition of diabetes.




How many meals should we have in a day?

Here is a short extract from Marion Kaplan’s newsletter I found interesting to share:


Three meals a day, that’s ‘a physiological waste’, wrote Dr Robert Nataf. Why? We should follow the example of the hunter-gatherer: he used to wake up in the morning and go look for food. Most of the time, he was looking for a game (for meat), and it lasted all day long. During this day, he had to run and so on,… He was in a state of maximum alertness.


One hormone especially allows this: cortisol. That’s the hormone of awareness, attention, alert in order to accomplish something difficult. In order to rich the alert state, the cortisol will need all the nutrients that are in our tissues: burning off proteins, it destroys lipids and glycogen. Hence, the habit of eating while producing cortisol.


Cortisol level is at its maximum in the morning, and slowly decline through the day. It’s about half-level around 11-12. According to Dr Nataf, we should ideally eat only around 17, when the level of cortisol reaches 0.


In order to not break social life, or break habits, the best would be to have a very high lunch around 12-13, and have a full meal for diner around 7:30-8. Or, having only one meal per day around 5… Which is at the opposite of popular beliefs!



(Photo credits: Rohappy, empara)

 

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