Before I got pregnant, I easily went without food until noon for several years. At noon, I could drink freshly squeezed juice, smoothies or a snack with seasonal fruits, and the first full meal in the form of porridge and salad was usually already after 12:00 pm. Cleansing and restoring the body, a feeling of lightness and vigor during the day, strengthening immunity and getting rid of many health problems – the benefits of intermittent fasting and long breaks between meals are now being discussed more and more often. How it works? What intervals between meals will benefit? Why are more and more experts not recommending snacking often during the day? And to whom is such a system not suitable? The opinion of experts on intermittent fasting is in this post.
Material prepared by: Daria Bukhman
What is intermittent fasting?
The concept of “intermittent fasting”, which is often used by Russian experts, does not fully reflect the essence of the Western approach and does not sound entirely clear. A more accurate translation, which in itself explains the essence of the practice, will be “short-term refusal to eat.” Unlike traditional fasting, with intermittent fasting, the periods of time without food are much shorter, but a similar practice is repeated at a certain frequency every day or every week.
How did our ancestors eat?
Many modern diets and health trends are based on the eating habits of our ancestors. And the principle of intermittent fasting is no exception. In the days of hunter-gatherers (namely, since the late Paleolithic, according to scientists, our DNA has hardly changed), hunger was the norm, because no one knew when to catch another game or find plant food. Thanks to this alternation of moments of food intake with periods of fasting, the human body has learned, firstly, to effectively break down fat (and not glucose) for energy, entering a state of ketosis-carbohydrate starvation of cells. And secondly, it became more adaptive and able to switch between burning glucose and burning fat for fuel. It is this ability that we do not train at all, eating every three hours, and sometimes more often (after all, no one canceled snacks :).
Why is this needed?
Recently, more and more scientific studies have appeared on the benefits of this practice. Intermittent fasting promises to reduce inflammation in the body, regulate blood sugar levels, improve mental function, increase energy levels, and can also prolong life, prevent and help fight cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the level of cell repair.
“It’s hard to imagine our ancestors crawling out of the caves, asking:“ What for breakfast today? ” In those days there were no refrigerators, there was nowhere to store food. For me, intermittent fasting is a kind of reunion with the ancestors, ”- Dr. Stephen Gundry, cardiologist, author of The Plant Paradox.
“Have you ever noticed that when you are sick, you have no appetite at all? This is an absolutely normal reaction of the body. Your body itself tries to lower blood glucose levels to fight infection. Intermittent fasting is not just a trend, all fasting mechanisms are embedded in our DNA. ”- Dr. Jason Fung, fasting practitioner, author of The Complete Guide to Fasting.
“I myself use the intermittent fasting technique every week and highly recommend it to my patients. It’s amazing how simply avoiding food can significantly reduce markers of inflammation in the body. ”- Dr. William Cole, functional medicine practitioner.
“During my many years of practice, I have witnessed how fasting healed patients from arthritis and lupus, helped to cope with eczema and psoriasis, and quickly stopped the development of cardiovascular diseases. At the same time, the healing is complete, without a rollback, and in fact, in many cases, operations were recommended that did not have to be resorted to in the end, ”- Dr. Joel Furman, a practicing family doctor, nutritionist, author of Fasting and Eating for Health.
“Intermittent fasting is a very fashionable philosophy now, which, among other things, helped to debunk the myth that eating often small meals throughout the day improves metabolism (and I am grateful to her for that). I want to draw your attention to three points: listen to your body and do not harm yourself. If you feel that fasting is not for you, then you should not torture yourself. Second, fasting in any form is dangerous for people (especially women) with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Thirdly, the method of intermittent fasting does not take into account the thousand-year experience of Ayurveda, which suggests that some types of people tolerate fasting more easily, while others are much more difficult. Therefore, I prefer a well-built detox program to intermittent fasting, ”- Kimberly Snyder, nutritionist, author of the best-selling The Beauty Detox Solution.
“Just as we need sleep to reboot and recover, our digestive system needs to stop eating for a while. I love to use intermittent fasting in my practice to combat inflammation and strengthen immunity, ”- Dr. Amy Sha, board certified digestive specialist.
“I am often asked if women can go hungry. Long-term fasting can no doubt turn off the reproductive system in women, but short-term fasting can rejuvenate a woman, increase energy levels, improve gut flora. ”- Felice Gersh, board-certified gynecologist, founder of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine in California.
Hours to Days – Types of Intermittent Fasting
There are many types of intermittent fasting, but perhaps the most popular practices are:
This type of fasting involves 16 hours without food for men and 14-15 hours for women each day. Thus, you are trying to fit your meals into a window of 8-10 hours (usually 2-3 meals). For example, having dinner at 18:00, you eat breakfast at 9: 00-10: 00 the next day, thus fasting for 15-16 hours (most of which, we hope, you sleep).
Method 5: 2
This type of fasting involves eating a regular meal 5 days a week and cutting calories to 500-600 on the remaining two days. This subgroup includes detox programs that limit daily calories.
Alternate day fasting
In fact, we skip breakfast, having dinner at 18.00, and break the fast with lunch at 12.00.
The only meal during the day is dinner, which means that fasting can last up to 22 hours (from dinner to dinner). You can read more about the system and selected quotes from the book “The Warrior’s Diet” in this post.
★ It is important to remember that the first meal after a break should be nutritious, satisfying and healthy, otherwise all of your body’s detoxification work during intermittent fasting actually becomes meaningless. A healthy vegetable fat smoothie, kitchari, freshly squeezed vegetable juice, salad, and omelet are great options.
Ayurveda and intermittent fasting
According to Ayurveda, a 12 hour break between dinner and breakfast is extremely beneficial for health, however, longer fasting will not benefit all doshas.
It is believed that fasting is not suitable for people with a predominant vata dosha. If they do decide to try it, then it is better to experiment in the warm season. Fasting is extremely difficult for pitta people because of their good appetite and strong agni. Kapha is the dosha for which fasting is most beneficial and easiest to perform due to its slow metabolism. It is this category of people who are usually not hungry in the morning and can easily skip breakfast.
Who is intermittent fasting not good for?
If you have gallbladder problems
During fasting, the gallbladder does not release bile, which is secreted by the liver. Therefore, bile becomes very concentrated during fasting and at the moment of exiting fasting (during the first meal) it can release small stones that can clog the duct.
If you have had or have eating disorders
Intermittent fasting can seriously aggravate diseases such as bulimia, anorexia, or other forms of eating disorders.
If you have adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue
Fasting can increase the concentration of cortisol, a stress hormone, in the blood, making the adrenal glands work even harder.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding
★ Intermittent fasting can be an interesting experiment and provide noticeable benefits, but only if your body is ready for it. Remember our bio-individuality – what works great for some people may not work for others at all.