What is intermittent fasting and is it beneficial?

Fans of the intermittent fasting system promise a beautiful figure, eternal youth and victory over cancer. At the same time, you can eat whatever you want. But only a few hours a day. We understand if it is really helpful for people to starve.

What is intermittent fasting?

This is a diet that includes periodic refusal of food. The softest shape is 16/8. The day is divided into two intervals. You can eat for eight hours, but you can not eat for the remaining sixteen hours. For example, if one dined at seven in the evening, one should not eat again until eleven in the morning. You can do the opposite: have breakfast at seven in the morning and refuse to eat after three in the afternoon. During the period of hunger, they are allowed to drink water, tea and coffee without sugar.

There are other shapes. For example, 18/6, in which you can eat only six hours a day. 5/2, when two unloading days are arranged during the week. They can eat up to 500 kcal. Some people fast once a week. Or eat once a day at the same time. In general, there are many shapes.

What does science say about intermittent fasting?

Breakers of intermittent fasting often refer to the study by Japanese molecular biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi, who won the Nobel Prize in 2016. He studied the process of autophagy, when, in the absence of nutrients, the cell begins to eat itself. First of all, it gets rid of damaged components and thus is cleaned. Yeast was the subject of Osum’s research.

Autophagy is a promising area of ​​medical research. But it is not right to draw a parallel between the yeast studied by the Japanese biologist and humans. In fact, Yoshinori Osum’s work has nothing to do with intermittent fasting, the scientist said at a conference in Moscow.

A person with intermittent fasting eats less often, and therefore less. According to experts from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School, this helps maintain a normal weight. Therefore, it reduces the risk of obesity-related diseases. For example, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The benefits are not the intermittent fasting alone, but the reduction of the overall calorie content of the menu. This showed a study by American scientists in 2017. It involved 100 overweight people who were monitored for a year. They were divided into three groups. The first observed an intermittent fast with a 25% reduction in dietary calories. The second ate normally, but the calories were reduced by 25%. The third group of habits did not change. According to the results of the study, the participants in the first and second groups lost weight equally. Other indicators – the amount of muscle and fat mass, the content of vitamins and trace elements – also did not differ.

There is evidence that intermittent fasting slows the growth of cancer and improves brain function. But this has only been proven in animals. According to nutritionist Elena Motova, it is too early to talk about the complex effects of fasting on the human body. The studies are not enough and most of them are very short.

How can this diet help?

According to nutritionist Albina Komissarova, intermittent fasting is one of the ways to reduce the amount of food consumed. For example, some people can not refuse tasty food and are not ready to cut down on portions. It may be easier for such people to have breakfast with a cup of sugar-free coffee, but not to limit themselves to lunch with colleagues and family dinner.

American scientists dealing with obesity believe that intermittent fasting can help streamline the diet. Go from chaotic snack all day to some steady, well-prepared meals. But here you have to understand that skipping breakfast alone is not an intermittent fast. Scientists from the University of Florida believe that people who do not have time to eat in the morning often eat less healthy foods and suffer from bad habits. Intermittent fasting suggests that meals should be healthy and wholesome.

Who should not fast intermittently

Intermittent fasting is not a suitable diet for people with diabetes and eating disorders. Especially anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Also, it should not be exercised by people who take medication strictly with meals.

There is insufficient data on the safety of intermittent fasting for children, adolescents, the elderly over 60 years of age, and pregnant and lactating women. Therefore, do not eat like that.

Women with intermittent fasting should be careful. It can lead to hormonal imbalances, amenorrhea, fertility problems and menstrual disorders. Therefore, before starting the practice, you should consult a doctor.

What’s the result

  • Intermittent fasting can help reduce calories, improve nutrition and lose weight. You should not expect any more benefits from it – they have not yet been proven by science.
  • The idea of ​​intermittent feeding is not new. Evolutionarily, our body is adapted to intermittent fasting. It was normal for an ancient man to eat herbs today, and to endure hunger tomorrow, because the food was over. In one form or another, intermittent fasting is practiced by representatives of many religions.
  • There are people who like intermittent fasting. Nutritionist Elena Motova says that you can eat like this only if you feel comfortable. But this is not the only way to normalize the diet.
  • If you still decide to try intermittent fasting, be sure to consult your doctor. You need to make sure there are no contraindications. Women should be especially careful, because fasting can have a bad effect on fertility.
  • Those who decide to fast intermittently may experience side effects: nausea, headache, insomnia. They usually subside within a month.

Cover: Sofya Iginova

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