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tips for intermittent fasting
Aurelia Corbaz Nutritioniste

Aurelia Corbaz

Nutritionist

Date: 2023-06-22

Topics: Nutrition

Intermittent Fasting: harness your body’s natural potential for health and happiness

What is Intermittent Fasting?

It is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. The concept behind intermittent fasting is to extend the periods of time between meals. There are several popular methods of intermittent fasting, including

  1. The 16/8 method involves fasting for 16 hours daily and restricting your daily eating window to 8 hours. For example, you can eat only between 12 PM and 8 PM and fast for the remaining 16 hours.
  2. 5:2 diet: With this approach, you normally eat five days a week and restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories per day for the other two days. However, it’s important to note that the 5:2 diet is often considered more calorie restriction than true intermittent fasting.
  3. Alternate-day fasting: As the name suggests, alternate-day fasting involves fasting every other day. On fasting days, you may consume very few calories (e.g., 500 calories) or no calories at all, while on non-fasting days, you eat normally.
  4. Eat-stop-eat: This method involves fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week. For example, you might fast from dinner one day until dinner the next.

What are the health benefits of intermittent fasting?

happy fasting

Intermittent fasting has gained popularity due to its potential benefits, which may include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, increased energy, even cellular repair, and mental alertness. Harvard Health “And according to a 2019 review article in the journal Nutrients, intermittent fasting promotes weight loss and may reduce risk factors linked to heart disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure, unhealthy blood lipid levels, and inflammation”.

Intermittent fasting has gained attention for its potential impact on cancer prevention and treatment. While research in this area is ongoing and the findings are still emerging, growing evidence suggests a potential link between intermittent fasting and cancer.

One of the proposed mechanisms behind the potential anti-cancer effects of intermittent fasting is its ability to promote autophagy. Autophagy is a cellular process that involves the degradation and recycling of damaged or dysfunctional cellular components. It is a natural defence mechanism that helps maintain cellular health and prevents the accumulation of harmful substances. 

What processes are triggered in our bodies when we fast?

When you fast for a minimum of 12-18 hours, it triggers ketosis. Ketosis is a metabolic state in which the body shifts its primary source of fuel from glucose to ketones. It occurs when the body’s carbohydrate intake is significantly reduced, and the liver starts producing ketones from fat as an alternative energy source. Understanding how ketosis works involves grasping the following key concepts. 

Another metabolic process kicked by fasting is already mentioned autophagy. Scientists connect it with reduced risk of cancer, mental alertness and longevity. Autophagy is essential for survival. Defective or damaged molecules are shredded and degraded by the cell’s waste disposal system, which generates new energy. Even after a short fasting period, the brain triggers the release of the hormone corticosterone, thus initiating autophagy in the liver. This kind of detoxification of the body keeps the body young.

How to succeed with intermittent fasting?

Avoid common mistakes while following intermittent fasting

Regardless of the evident benefits, it is relatively easy to fail with intermittent fasting. Often people fall into a spiral of overeating between fasting periods. A common notion that “It is not so much about what you eat, but rather when you eat” is absolutely WRONG. Fasting doesn’t cancel the need for healthy, balanced nutrition.

If your goal is to shred kilos plan your fasting. Remember that every healthy lifestyle is a dialogue between your body and brain. There are “craving” areas in your brain seducing you to eat sweet and deep-fried foods. 

Here are 10 tips on how to succeed with intermittent fasting

  1. Start slowly, starting with 12h fasting period and gradually increasing it to 18.
  2. Plan your meals during fasting breaks. Opt for low-carbohydrate options to trigger the ketosis process faster.
  3. Do include “good” complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, not sweet fruits and red vegetables. A severely carbohydrate-restrictive diet (proteins +fat+green vegetables) is risky. It can give fast results but is not sustainable to follow long term.
  4. A recent meta-analysis of many studies about dieting showed that the 5:2 diet is the most effective because it is mentally easier to adhere to it.
  5. Prepare your fasting low-carb meal in advance: around 350-450 kcal per meal to avoid overeating. Try allcook Low-carb meals specially designed for intermittent fasting aimed at weight loss.
  6. Drink plenty of water. 
  7. Avoid alcohol. If fasting will become your lifestyle, 1-2 glasses of wine or beer per week is acceptable, even good for you.
  8. Include fermented products in your diet to support digestive health and detoxification.
  9. During long fasting periods, save energy by avoiding endurance physical activity and doing “calm” sports like walking, stretching and yoga.
  10. Avoid overly “judging” social contacts during fasting days.

Good luck.

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