Intermittent fasting may be the way to go for weight loss for some people, and it may have health benefits for more than just that. This article is about what exactly does a longer period of abstinence from food cause in our body and what forms and reliefs there are when fasting.
Today, intermittent fasting has become a real trend and many people now know that 16:8 does not stand for any paragraphs, mathematical formulas or bicycle tires, but is a popular form of longer food abstinence. But what exactly is behind the idea of hourly or days of renunciation? What makes this concept so popular and successful and what are the different possibilities? All these questions are answered in the article and show who is suitable for intermittent fasting and how it can be implemented.
What exactly is intermittent fasting?
As the name suggests, interval fasting or intermittent fasting is about fasting certain time intervals a day or week, i.e. abstaining from food. The aim behind this is to boost the fat metabolism and to achieve and optimize the body’s own cleaning and regeneration of the cells (also called autophagy). You can imagine the autophagy process as your body’s own garbage disposal. After about twelve hours without eating, the garbage disposal comes into full swing and begins to remove old, destroyed cells and proteins, thus cleaning the body. At the same time, new substances, so-called ketones, are produced, which can supply us with energy. Individual harmful bacteria and viruses are additionally eliminated.
There are different variants of intermittent fasting, all of which follow the same principle and reduce the time of food intake to allow a long fasting break. Most time windows relate to several hours or even days. The best known is the 16:8 principle of intermittent fasting. This method allows for an 8-hour window to eat, with the remaining 16 hours of no food or energy drinks be consumed. The time doesn’t matter, which opens up various possibilities.
Many people skip breakfast and thus often get their energy between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. If you would like to try this method, but cannot do without your breakfast cocoa or porridge, there is also the option of skipping dinner and consuming energy between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., for example. This variant is also recommended for diabetics, as breakfast can ensure a more stable blood sugar level throughout the day. Other time windows result from variants such as 14:10 or 20:4. The duration of the fast changes here. Instead of focusing on individual hours, you can fast for a full 24 hours. The most common variant here is the 5: 2 intermittent fasting. This time, these two numbers stand for complete days and describe a week. Anyone who follows this fasting method eats five days a week normally and as usual, while he or she almost completely abstains from eating for two complete days (either in a row or spread over the week).
Alternating fasting is a variant in which you alternate between eating normally and fasting (about 25% of the actual energy requirement). So all methods are based on the same goal of a longer interval without energy intake and can therefore contribute to weight loss. He or she eats five days a week normally and as usual, while he or she almost completely abstains from eating for two complete days (either in a row or spread out throughout the week).
How helpful is intermittent fasting for burning fat?
In addition to autophagy, skipping one or more meals also stimulates lipid metabolism. The reason for this is the lower insulin release due to the absence of an increase in blood sugar. In order to be able to understand this, let’s take a little trip to digestion and hormone release. As soon as we ingest food, be it a breakfast roll, porridge or whole meal bread, digestion begins in the mouth. By crushing the food and adding and mixing it with saliva, the first parts of the food are crushed and broken down into usable small parts. The food is transported through the esophagus to the gastrointestinal tract. Here the food is further broken down and mixed until the individual components are the right size and shape for the body to absorb. Depending on the composition of the food and the length of the glucose molecules, this process takes different amounts of time.
Short and fast glucose molecules require hardly any work to be broken down and, in contrast to complex, long-chain glucose molecules, because the blood sugar level to rise very quickly. All of these food intakes, regardless of the length and composition, result in insulin release due to increased blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and is released when blood sugar is high (due to food intake) in order to pull the sugar into the cells and lower the blood sugar level again. This also works very well in healthy people, but this insulin release now hinders our fat metabolism. The body focuses on balancing blood sugar levels and cannot convert stored fat reserves into energy at the same time. This also explains why longer meal breaks result in less insulin being released throughout the day, meaning that fat metabolism is interrupted less often.
Is Intermittent Fasting a Guarantee for Weight Loss?
However, a longer-lasting fat metabolism throughout the day alone is no guarantee for higher fat burning and the resulting weight loss. With a positive energy balance, you can also gain extra kilos by skipping one or more meals if you consume more energy in the form of kilocalories than you burn in the short period of time. It doesn’t matter to the kilocalories whether they are eaten before or after 6 p.m., as is so often the case, it depends on the total amount, which in the long term also determines the energy balance and thus the weight. However, when you continue to eat as you normally would, along with skipping an entire meal, your body typically goes into a calorie deficit. This means that less energy is consumed through food than the body burns over the day. This calorie deficit taps into stored energy (usually in the form of fat) and additionally burns it.
Intermittent fasting Results
The result is then usually shown with a lower weight on the scales. As an aid to Intermittent fasting only burns fat if less energy is consumed than the body burns during the day. This weight reduction has other health benefits, especially in people who are overweight and have a high BMI, such as lowering blood pressure and improving the cardiovascular system.
Should I try intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting, if done correctly, can have a positive effect on your health. If you want to try it yourself, you can choose from different methods and also slowly increase. Try going without food for 12 hours first and then increase the fasting period to 14 and later to 16 hours if you don’t have a problem with that. If you rarely feel hungry in the morning, try skipping breakfast and absorbing energy only at midday. If your body and your well-being cannot start the day properly without a strengthening, just try one last meal in the afternoon. Maybe it’s easier for you to completely reduce your energy intake for one or more days. Sufficient fluid intake is also important.
While you should avoid calories while fasting, the same cannot be said for hydration. Water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea are allowed, while fruit juices, lattes, and alcoholic beverages would break the fast.
At first, it will be challenging to change your meal schedule that you have developed over the years and to gain additional free time. Try to use this time sensibly, possibly including walks, reading a good book or listening to music. Maybe you can also extend your sleep time or you are even so motivated that you increase your energy consumption with a workout or stretching in the morning. You may also find that intermittent fasting doesn’t fit into your daily routine and lifestyle and is therefore not suitable for everyone. As always, nutrition is an individual issue and everyone should find a diet and lifestyle that will allow them to live happily and healthily.