Among the food schemes designed to aid in weight loss, intermittent fasting remains one of the most effective. The word fasting, however, can be confusing to those who don't know well or have never heard of this form of diet, so it's good to clarify the subject.
That's why we're here: today we'll explain in simple terms how intermittent fasting works and what benefits it can bring to your body, both in terms of well-being and in terms of weight loss.
But that's not all: we will also give you practical examples to follow to respect the steps of intermittent fasting. You are in the right place to find out if this is the right nutritional approach for you!
Intermittent fasting: features and benefits
Intermittent fasting is a method of weight loss that acts on the metabolism. It is called "fasting" because it alternates moments of regular meals with moments of total abstinence from food, with a precise time frame to be followed meticulously for effective results.
What is the purpose of these breaks where you don't have to eat anything? In simple terms, our body, after running out of sugar stocks, is forced to burn excess fat. In doing so, the metabolism is forced to change, getting used to producing positive energy and giving clear benefits throughout the body.
And it is precisely these benefits that make it one of the most used food models. Here are the most important:
- lose weight and deflate excess fat from the abdomen;
- improve brain function;
- increase muscle mass;
- slow down aging;
- increase the physical resistance of the person;
- fight diabetes and obesity;
- stabilize glucose in the body;
- improve blood pressure and heart rate.
As a result, some brain functions will be intensified, such as memory and concentration, but individual strength and athletic preparation will also increase, precisely due to the ability to tone the muscles.
Finally, learning to resist hunger also helps strengthen the defenses of the immune system, developing a greater ability to deal with disease.
This is how intermittent fasting works
Now that we understand what it consists of, it's time to understand how intermittent fasting works.
It is a fairly complex dietary scheme that follows strict rules and does not allow for exceptions or the possibility of going overboard. Its strength lies in the fact that it is very effective and has several variations, so everyone can choose the most suitable for their needs or habits.
The most widespread is the 16/8 one: a ban on eating for a good 16 hours, and then having regular meals in the remaining 8 hours. What to eat during this time? Obviously it is essential to avoid excessive portions or unhealthy foods rich in fat, but therefore prefer fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and eggs, unsweetened drinks and a little oil, to be used both in preparations and in condiments.
The 5/2 version is also very frequent, in which there are 5 days where you can eat normal meals by adapting to your daily needs, and 2 days where you only take 500 calories for women and 600 for men.
These two approaches are the most followed, but there are also other more rigid versions of intermittent fasting, which impose breaks of 24 or even 20 hours. But these are heavier regimes to deal with and are only advisable if prescribed by a professional of the sector.
How many kg can you lose with this type of fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves sacrifices and willpower, but then manages to give enormous satisfaction to those who carry out the prescribed indications. In fact, the weight loss is remarkable and can be achieved even in a short time.
Generally speaking, in a time span ranging from three weeks to ten weeks, there can be a reduction in weight of a minimum of 3% up to a maximum of 8%.
But weight loss shouldn't be seen only in terms of the kilos lost and therefore in the number that the scale brings us back! There are other obvious factors to pay attention to, such as the waist circumference which is considerably reduced and the muscle mass which tends to increase, improving the energy charge and physical resistance. Therefore, intermittent fasting is excellent for general well-being that gets us back in shape and charges us with energy.
How to do intermittent fasting with practical examples of what to eat
Now let's try to really understand how intermittent fasting works in practical terms, with concrete examples and some ideas for making a shopping list.
For breakfast, favor rusks, cereals and yoghurt (choose between the normal pot, Greek yoghurt or probiotic yogurt if you suffer from intestinal problems).
For a snack, it is better to prefer dried fruit, such as walnuts and hazelnuts, or fruit.
At lunchtime, cook rice or pasta with light sauces and a little oil, such as pasta with tomato sauce or pesto.
For dinner, eat grilled chicken breast, oily fish or salmon, grilled tenderloin, salad or steamed vegetables, grilled zucchini and seasonal fruit.
On balance it is clear that you can eat almost anything and the restrictions concern more the timing than specific foods. However, it remains obvious that exaggerated portions and foods with too many calories, such as snacks, for example, should be avoided.
When it is indicated and when to avoid, advice and indications
However, intermittent fasting is not a one-size-fits-all calorie restriction regimen. Precisely because of its basic characteristic, that of fasting for a total of hours, it could be difficult and therefore harmful for some categories of people.
Absolutely not recommended for pregnant women and for those suffering from some serious pathologies related to nutrition. Obviously it is not suitable for children, but neither for teenagers.
The duration of this diet must be limited, otherwise the advantages could turn into disadvantages and cause imbalances in the body and malnutrition problems.
Furthermore, without constant training, intermittent fasting is just an almost useless sacrifice because it would not have the desired results.
Finally, a piece of advice to give to those who decide to tackle intermittent fasting is to drink a lot, avoiding the risks of dehydration that are always around the corner in any diet.