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Many fasting techniques, miracle diets and detoxes appear more or less controversial to the French. Increasingly widespread for its so-called benefits in weight loss and for its less restrictive implementation, intermittent fasting is now highly popular.
But what is intermittent fasting? What are its real benefits and what are its effects on the body?
Intermittent fasting: what is it?
Intermittent fasting consists of alternating periods of fasting with periods when you eat normally. During this fasting, it is advisable to drink water, but also tea or coffee to help fight against the feeling of hunger. This method is therefore much less restrictive and constraining than strict fasting (religious or not).
Different intermittent fasting techniques
There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting:
– The 5:2 method consists of fasting 2 days a week
– Partial fasting consists of alternating a day when you consume only 25% of your usual caloric intake and a day when you eat normally
– Daily intermittent fasting, which consists of fasting between 12 and 16 hours a day and concentrating all your meals on the remaining time slot.
In this article, we focus on the daily intermittent fast.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
Its effects on the body
– Generates the destocking of fat and sugar: When you don’t eat, your body must mobilize reserves to provide you with the energy necessary for the functioning of vital organs and to ensure muscle contractions (natural or related to physical exercise)
Initially, the body will quickly use the glycogen reserves (carbohydrate reserve) in the muscles and liver. This phenomenon is known as glycogenolysis.
When these reserves are exhausted, the body will draw from the fats stored in the fat cells. The time this takes depends on the state of the reserves and the physical activity practiced. The fat will gradually “melt” to be used as an energy source.
– Prevents certain diseases associated with overweight: Due to its nature, intermittent fasting reduces the risk of overweight and obesity. In doing so, it acts to prevent associated illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
– Gives you back control over your eating sensations: it is very easy today to eat more than you need (during meals or by snacking during the day). Fasting intermittently allows you to regain control over your desire to eat and to familiarize yourself again with your feeling of hunger.
An effective method to lose weight
Fasting can help you lose weight but especially fat mass in the sense that your body will have more time to mobilize fat reserves.
If you are fasting intermittently, it is important that the fast-breaking meal (first meal) be:
– Low in simple carbohydrates: Since your sugar reserves have been depleted, bringing simple carbohydrates to your body would drastically and suddenly raise your blood sugar level. This will result in a very high insulin peak, usually followed by “reactionary” hypoglycemia.
– Rich in quality protein: your body may have partially drawn from your muscles to provide you with energy during your fasting. To counterbalance this situation, it is important to have a slightly higher protein intake during your break-fast meal. Pun intended.
As for your diet for the rest of the day, remember that the best way to lose weight in the long term is to eat a balanced diet AND exercise regularly.
In which case avoid intermittent fasting?
During a fast, your body is subjected to periods of deprivation that can cause tension, attention and fatigue. Therefore, this method may not be recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, for example, but also for the elderly, those who suffer or have suffered from eating disorders or anyone whose vigilance should not be reduced.
Although these symptoms may be particularly present when you start this diet, they will fade quickly as your body gets used to them.
Do not hesitate to ask your doctor for advice before starting a fast.
FAQs on intermittent fasting
Isn’t breakfast the most important meal of the day?
Breakfast is an important meal because it follows the physiological fast (of the night) and allows us to have energy in the morning.
Breakfast is not important in itself. What is important is the first meal after your fasting period. Whether it takes place in the morning (breakfast) or in the afternoon, is not a very important parameter.
Can I train during my fasting period?
You can train during your fast. However, you will have to adapt your training sessions.
Your body’s energy level is low during your fasting period. You cannot therefore expect to exert the same level of effort as when your body benefits from a “normal” caloric intake. It is important to be aware that a decrease in performance is likely compared to your usual results and must be accepted.
If you train on an empty stomach, be reasonable, listen to your body and adapt your effort to avoid any risk of injury due to decreased alertness or physical weakness.
Is it cheating to drink water while I am fasting?
No! Drinking water during your fasting is not cheating and is highly recommended. Indeed, the water status has no impact on energy reserves and will allow you to more easily hold the fasting period and to better face physical exercise, especially since dehydration will reinforce the decrease in performance.