One of the biggest trends in the Fitness and Health world today is Intermittent Fasting, a food pattern that makes food intake limited to a defined and relatively short time period of the day.
There are several types of Intermittent Fasting. This are the most common and also the most practiced:
Eat-Stop-Eat: as its name implies, consists of making 24-hour fasting periods once or twice a week. On fasting days, only calorie-free beverages such as water, teas, and herbal teas are allowed. In the other days the feeding is done normally.
Fasting 16/8 (the most “popular” among followers): consists of a fasting period of 16 hours followed by 8 hours of feeding. During this time, all the necessary calories are ingested.
Usually the first meal of the day is made at 12-13 a.m., another smaller meal between 16-17 p.m. (snack) and the last meal of the day at about 20-21 p.m. (dinner). All depending on each particular case but, as a rule, this is the most logical sequence for who has to share the main meals, for example in family …
Fasting 12/12: is identical to the previous one, except that it consists of a period of 12 hours of fasting and another of 12 hours of feeding. It turns out to be relatively easier for beginners.
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Fasting 5: 2: on two days of the week do a partial fast, in which only about 25% of the usual calories (500-600 kcal) are ingested.
Warrior Diet: the feeding period is summarized at the last 4 hours of the day.
It is not a diet (food plan) in the true sense of the word, since nothing tells us about what foods to eat, but only the times when intake occurs.
None presupposes a calorie restriction although this principle is underlying and can justify the possible benefits of this food standard, such as:
– Weight loss / fat mass – due to possible caloric restriction
– Increased insulin sensitivity – In fasting insulin levels decrease
– Reduction of inflammation – Metabolic improvements, namely lipid profile and reduction of cardiovascular disease
– Lower oxidative stress – slows aging, used in cancer treatments (reduction of malignant cell proliferation)
– Metabolic adaptation
Despite this, there is a problem associated with Intermittent Fasting, that is the lack of scientific support in humans. The great majority of the works are in animal model, and can not be in any way extrapolated.
However, it can be used as a strategy for weight loss depending on the situations and the ease of adherence, not forgetting that as a food standard requires healthy food choices. And this applies whether if you fast or if you eat 3, 4 or 6 meals a day.
By Joana Correia, Nutritionist