Intermittent fasting and its benefits

Reading time: 3 min Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy that has gained a lot of momentum in recent years, both among professionals in the nutrition sector and among the general population. Different fronts with very varied connotations have been reported; from its consideration as a weapon against public health to its elevation to the figure of divinity. Of course, these extreme conceptions have not helped its understanding, although they have helped its tremendous diffusion. The excess of distorted information, which even spreads to the mass media, has stolen the meaning or objective of this tool. Therefore, I am going to explain to you in a very synthesized and condensed way everything you need to know about intermittent fasting. intermittent fasting

1. What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy or tool that includes a 24-hour time zone, in which the time without ingestion of solid or liquid food with tangible caloric value is increased and with the aim of reducing the number of hours spent that you are eating energy-dense solid or liquid foods. The duration of the "fasting window" usually varies between 12-14 hours in the shortest periods up to 16-18 in the most demanding ones. And the "feeding window" with effective intakes of food with energy value lasts between 10-12 and 8-6 hours.

2. Why use it?

The objectives or purposes of its use are varied and, normally, almost all of them tend to occur jointly or synergistically; thus forming a tool for integrative use . The main uses of intermittent fasting are to achieve:
  • Autophagy : it is a catabolic process that occurs in eukaryotic cells where aberrant substances or damaged organelles of the cytoplasm are captured in vesicles to subsequently degrade in vacuoles or lysosomes; depending on the plant or animal nature of the cell. Basically, it is a “recycling” mechanism in which the cell obtains energy from its own waste products .
  • Loss of fat and body weight : while fasting does not provide weight loss in isolation, it does allow us to reduce energy intake and thereby cause a caloric deficit in order to reduce body adiposity, facilitating a metabolic and mental environment conducive to it. This occurs because during the fasting window the release of catecholamines is favored, which keep the body very active and increase both the level of daily activity and adherence to the diet.
  • Metabolic flexibility : consists of the body's ability to resort to different energy substrates depending on the activity that is carried out or the food that is ingested. Fasting helps promote this essential advantage that allows you to turn to fat as a fasting energy substrate instead of breaking down muscle tissue for glucose as an energy source.
intermittent fasting

3. What benefits does it have?

Limiting fasting food does not trigger the benefits immediately as if the body were a switch. The appearance and succession of the integral improvement will occur progressively as we manage to overlap this strategy little by little over time. Its most notable benefits are:
  • Intestinal health : it is possible to promote the correct functioning of the digestive system through the fasting window that, as it does not contain food, allows it to be free from work and stress, so that it can relax.

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  • Combats metabolic syndrome by down-regulating surrounding glucose levels, insulin sensitivity, lowering blood pressure, improving lipid profile, and reducing chronic low-grade inflammation. Although it should be noted that these benefits will come from the loss of fat and body weight that fasting promotes by making it easier for us to achieve a caloric deficit with our diet.
  • Cognitive and mood improvement : the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine increases the ability to concentrate, cognitive focus and performance during our daily activities.
  • Adherence : perhaps it is the main benefit since it allows you to stop worrying about food to start doing our morning activities. Its ability to suppress hunger reduces psychological fatigue and facilitates the implementation of this dietary strategy in the long term.
  • Hormonal : pathologies of the hormonal profile related to the metabolic syndrome can be alleviated to a good degree.
  • Biorhythms : by not eating any food in the morning, especially carbohydrates, it allows us to be active and in a state of wakefulness.
before fasting
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