The benefits of fasting without all the constraints. This is the challenge of fasting diet (intermittent fasting in English), a very flexible program that skilfully combines complete caloric restrictions and gourmet meals. With the key, a weight loss and an Olympic form.
What is the Fasting diet method?
The basic principle of intermittent fasting ? Do not eat anything (but continue to drink especially) for a certain period of time, depending on the formula chosen. But it is also reduce the period of nutrition and the number of meals. And eat better, without excluding food groups. Some adopt fasting every day of the year, or almost. Others organize punctual cures for one or more weeks (in the spring for example), or reserve the fast at the weekends. No problem, because one of the great qualities of the program is its flexibility.
1) Determine the duration of fasting and the frequency of meals
And adapt them according to lifestyle and habits. The most followed fasting, the 16/8, involves a fast of 16 hours generally followed by two meals. But there are many other formulas that can answer everyone’s problems.
2) Start with a period of adaptation
Putting the fasting in place very gradually helps the body to get used to little by little. Fewer sugars , fewer meals, short periods of fasting … Good to know: the alternation period of fast-meal is far from unknown. The body goes through it every night, and it goes very well!
3) Drink water very regularly
To allow the body to eliminate waste associated with the burning of fat reserves. We also know that the feeling of hunger is often due to a phenomenon of dehydration. The deposit: always have a bottle of water at your fingertips.
4) Eat your fill
By focusing on good nutrients (complex carbohydrates, vegetables, good fats …). And remaining free to choose his menus, desserts included.
With moderation. According to JB Rives (author of Le Fasting, Editions Thierry Souccar), the solution is not to always do more, but just what it takes. Moving every day and having one hour of sport a week would be enough to obtain satisfactory results and preserve the metabolism.
Why does fasting diet work?
Because reducing the number of meals, no longer nibbling or feeding at the slightest hollow can absorb total fewer calories. This rhythm would also be better adapted to our real physiological needs. As proof, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who did not eat cereals when they jumped out of bed and did not eat their first meal until mid-day. Literally, fasting also means breaking the fast.
Because fasting puts the body into fat burning mode. After several hours without food intake the blood sugar level goes down (analyzes in support), the peaks of insulin disappear and the glucagon comes to take over. Also produced by the pancreas, this hormone has the role of maintaining a minimum level of sugar in the blood to nourish the organs, in the absence of food intake. When the reserves are exhausted, the glucagon draws on the fat of the adipose tissue to turn it into energy. In summary, the more the pancreas secretes glucagon and the extra pounds fly away.
Because fasting is an adaptable and uncomplicated formula to follow. A la carte hours, zero deprivation during meals (we do not speak of kebab but healthy food …), free menus with cheese and desserts. Life can continue normally, as a family, at a restaurant or at a friend’s house.
Because, aside from weight loss, other positive effects are quickly noticeable and promote the continuation of the experience. In addition to regulating insulin levels and reducing body fat, the metabolism works well. We feel in good shape.
How to do it ?
1 / I choose my intermittent fast
To find the formula that is his without being wrong, we take everything into account: his work and family constraints, his lifestyle and his preferences. Some people can not afford to skip breakfast ; others do not have any difficulty in not having lunch, there is no rule …. And we are not locked in a rigid time constraint either: we can very well, without compromising the results, start some days fasting a little later, or have a meal more because we are with friends. The four basic schemes:
– Fasting 16 hours with two integrated meals (lunch-dinner or breakfast-dinner or breakfast-lunch)
The 16/8 is according to JB Rives the most common fasting, the best for the body and the most compatible with a social life. Most of the benefits (health and thinness) would be obtained with this duration. On the program, a daily fast of 16 hours therefore (it starts around 20 hours or more, until the next day to 12 hours or more). We skip the breakfast, which is not a bad thing: too often loaded with carbohydrates it causes peaks of insulin. Then we have lunch and we dine normally. But the addicts of the breakfast can also keep this first meal, by balancing it correctly, and dinner late in the evening (6 hours / 22 hours). Or, adopt the breakfast-lunch formula, and fast between 1 pm and 7 am the next morning.
– The detox mode, with a meal
Ideal for an express fitness. It consists of observing a 24-hour fast, once a week. Example, we stop eating Friday evening after 19 hours, then we eat the next day at the same time. Where we sit on the lunches around 13 hours.
– Fasting 13 hours, with two meals
Perfect for startup. This is not the fastest performing fasting but it already gives some results and, above all, it allows to get used to it smoothly.
– Fasting 18-20 hours, with one meal
More difficult to hold, it is a formula for the regulars of fasting.
2 / I start crescendo
We do not go headlong, especially if we are used to too much and eat badly (snacking, industrial dishes, sweets …). Nutritionists recommend doing a trial period for a week or two to set the record straight (or almost!) And prepare the body. We are already starting to reduce sugar, especially at breakfast (finished cereals and jams). We skip this first meal one day out of three, then every other day. Once the habit is taken, a trial fast is scheduled from 13 to 14 hours for a weekend and then for several days in a row. After only, the duration of fasting is gradually increased to 16 hours. And we choose his meals.
3 / I eat much better
Although fasting is independent of the diet, it would be a pity to work hard and maintain bad habits! Without completely eliminating them, we continue to reduce all sugars during the day (cereals, honey, fruit juice, pastries …) because they have a direct impact on insulin and weight gain. For the same reasons, we do not eat starchy foodsat each meal (potato, pasta, rice) unless you are really sporty and have significant energy expenditure. In general, they are also eaten in the evening, at the end of the afternoon or for dinner “because glucose indirectly facilitates the production of melatonin, and improves the quality of sleep, explains JB Rives”. It avoids the industrial preparations often rich in added sugars and processed fats, and we favor the small homemade dishes. Finally, we consume at least one portion of vegetables per meal (tomatoes, beans, zucchini, asparagus, eggplant, carrot …). And we drink more water.
Is Fasting diet a method for me?
Yes, if I have taken insidiously weight in recent years, with fat that is located mainly around the waist and thighs. Despite my regular exercise, I can not lose more than 500 grams. I feel that nothing works, and yet I am rather careful about what I eat (but not every day of course!).
If I can not stand the idea of dieting, weighing and calculating, depriving myself of cheese or desserts. Above all, I do not believe it anymore! Because diet after diet, I find that I am getting round more and more. I would like to find a “diet” that is not a diet. A new rhythm, which imposes itself on my organism.
If I’m always hungry and I’m very attracted to sugar. Despite all my good resolutions, I always end up cracking in the afternoon, or when I get home just before dinner. In the evening, in front of the TV, I can not help but nibble something sweet.
The benefits of Fasting diet
In addition to weight loss, fasting has many other therapeutic benefits. According to many studies, including that of Dr. Valter Longo, professor of gerontology at the University of California, fasting could reduce the markers of inflammation, responsible for many pathologies (cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, obesity , inflammation of the tube digestive…). He would also be able to purge the body, decongest the liver, recalibrate the appetite and boost energy … it was said well, its benefits are innumerable. But beware: if you suffer from a pathology, if you follow a medical treatment, if you are pregnant, do not put fast in place without a medical follow-up.
Intermittent fasting for beginners
What is intermittent fasting?
No. Fasting differs from starvation in one crucial way: control. Starvation is the involuntary absence of food for a long time, leading to severe suffering or even death.
It is neither deliberate nor controlled.
Fasting, on the other hand, is the voluntary withholding of food for spiritual, health, or other reasons. It’s done by someone who is not underweight and thus has enough stored body fat to live off. Intermittent fasting done right should not cause suffering, and certainly never death.
Food is easily available, but you choose not to eat it. This can be for any period of time, from a few hours up to a few days or – with medical supervision – even weeks on end. You may begin a fast at any time of your choosing, and you may end a fast at will, too. You can start or stop a fast for any reason or no reason at all.
Fasting has no standard duration, as it is merely the absence of eating.
Anytime that you are not eating, you are intermittently fasting. For example, you may fast between dinner and breakfast the next day, a period of approximately 12-14 hours. In that sense, intermittent fasting should be considered a part of everyday life.
Consider the term “break fast”. This refers to the meal that breaks your fast – which is done daily. Rather than being some sort of cruel and unusual punishment, the English language implicitly acknowledges that fasting should be performed daily, even if only for a short duration.
Intermittent fasting is not something queer and curious, but a part of everyday, normal life. It is perhaps the oldest and most powerful dietary intervention imaginable.
Yet somehow we have missed its power and overlooked its therapeutic potential.
Learning how to fast properly gives us the option of using it or not.
To get started, either watch our brief video course on intermittent fasting or keep reading below.
Intermittent fasting diet for weight loss
At its very core, intermittent fasting simply allows the body to use its stored energy. For example, by burning off excess body fat.
It is important to realize that this is normal and humans have evolved to fast for shorter time periods – hours or days – without detrimental health consequences.
Body fat is merely food energy that has been stored away. If you don’t eat, your body will simply “eat” its own fat for energy.Life is about balance. The good and the bad, the yin and the yang. The same applies to eating and fasting. Fasting, after all, is simply the flip side of eating. If you are not eating, you are fasting. Here’s how it works:
When we eat, more food energy is ingested than can immediately be used. Some of this energy must be stored away for later use. Insulin is the key hormone involved in the storage of food energy.
Insulin rises when we eat, helping to store the excess energy in two separate ways. Carbohydrates are broken down into individual glucose (sugar) units, which can be linked into long chains to form glycogen, which is then stored in the liver or muscle.
There is, however, very limited storage space for carbohydrates; and once that is reached, the liver starts to turn the excess glucose into fat. This process is called de-novo lipogenesis (meaning literally “making new fat”).
Some of this newly created fat is stored in the liver, but most of it is exported to other fat deposits in the body. While this is a more complicated process, there is almost no limit to the amount of fat that can be created.
So, two complementary food energy storage systems exist in our bodies. One is easily accessible but with limited storage space (glycogen), and the other is more difficult to access but has almost unlimited storage space (body fat).
The process goes in reverse when we do not eat (intermittent fasting). Insulin levels fall, signaling the body to start burning stored energy as no more is coming through food. Blood glucose falls, so the body must now pull glucose out of storage to burn for energy.
Glycogen is the most easily accessible energy source. It is broken down into glucose molecules to provide energy for the body’s other cells. This can provide enough energy to power much of the body’s needs for 24-36 hours. After that, the body will primarily be breaking down fat for energy.
So the body only really exists in two states – the fed (insulin high) state and the fasted (insulin low) state. Either we are storing food energy (increasing stores), or we are burning stored energy (decreasing stores). It’s one or the other. If eating and fasting are balanced, then there should be no net weight change.
If we start eating the minute we roll out of bed, and do not stop until we go to sleep, we spend almost all our time in the fed state. Over time, we may gain weight, because we have not allowed our body any time to burn stored food energy.
To restore balance or to lose weight, we may simply need to increase the amount of time spent burning food energy.
That’s intermittent fasting.In essence, intermittent fasting allows the body to use its stored energy. After all, that’s what it is there for. The important thing to understand is that there is nothing wrong with that. That is how our bodies are designed. That’s what dogs, cats, lions and bears do. That’s what humans do.
If you are eating every third hour, as is often recommended, then your body will constantly use the incoming food energy. It may not need to burn much body fat, if any. You may just be storing fat.
Your body may be saving it for a time when there is nothing to eat.If this happens, you lack balance. You lack intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting benefits
Intermittent fasting’s most obvious benefit is weight loss.
However, there are many potential benefits beyond this, some of which have been known since ancient times.The fasting periods were often called ‘cleanses’, ‘detoxifications’, or ‘purifications’, but the idea is similar – e.g. to abstain from eating food for a certain period of time, often for health reasons. People imagined that this period of abstinence from food would clear their bodies’ systems of toxins and rejuvenate them. They may have been more correct than they knew.
How to intermittent fast
Shorter fasting diet (<24hrs)
Intermittent fasting offers plenty of flexibility. You can fast for as long or short as you like, but longer fasts than a few days may require medical supervision. Here are some popular regimens. Generally, shorter fasts are done more frequently.
This way of doing intermittent fasting involves daily fasting for 16 hours. Sometimes this is also referred to as an 8-hour eating ‘window’. You eat all your meals within an 8-hour time period and fast for the remaining 16 hours. Generally, this is done daily or almost daily.
For example, you may eat all your meals within the time period of 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. Generally, this means skipping breakfast, but some people prefer to skip dinner instead. You typically eat two or three meals within this 8-hour period.
This involves a 4-hour eating window and a 20-hour fast. For example, you might eat between 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm every day and fast for the other 20 hours. Generally, this would involve eating either one meal or two smaller meals within this period.
Longer fasts (>24 hours)
This way of doing intermittent fasting involves fasting from dinner to dinner (or lunch to lunch). If you eat dinner on day 1, you would skip the next day’s breakfast and lunch and eat dinner again on day 2. This means that you are still eating daily, but only once during that day. This would generally be done two to three times per week.
This is the version of intermittent fasting that has the most scientific support, as most studies on intermittent fasting has featured similar advice.
Dr. Michael Mosley popularized this variation of intermittent fasting in his book ‘The Fast Diet’.
5:2 involves five regular eating days and two fasting days. However, on these two fasting days, you are allowed to eat 500 calories on each day. These calories can be consumed at any time during the day – either spread throughout the day or as a single meal.
Another related approach to 5:2 is to have “fasting” days with 500 calories not just twice a week, but every other day.
This involves fasting for the entire day. For example, if you eat dinner on day 1, you would fast for all of day 2 and not eat again until breakfast on day 3. This is generally 36 hours of fasting. This might provide a more powerful weight loss benefit. The other great benefit is that it avoids the temptation to overeat dinner on day 2.
Generally for fasts greater than 48 hours, I recommend a general multivitamin to avoid micronutrient deficiency. The world record for fasting is 382 days, and going 7-14 days may be possible for some people.
I discourage people from fasting for more than 14 days due to high risk of refeeding syndrome, a dangerous shift in fluids and minerals that can occur when food is re-introduced after a long fast.
Intermittent fasting FAQ
Who should NOT fast?
You should not do intermittent fasting if you are:
- Underweight (BMI < 18.5) or have an eating disorder like anorexia.
- Pregnant – you need extra nutrients for your child.
- Breastfeeding – you need extra nutrients for your child.
- A child under 18 – you need extra nutrients to grow.
You can probably fast, but may need medical supervision, under these conditions:
- If you have diabetes mellitus – type 1 or type 2.
- If you take prescription medication.
- If you have gout or high uric acid.
- If you have any serious medical conditions, such as liver disease, kidney disease, or heart disease.
Won’t intermittent fasting put me into starvation mode?
No. This is the most common myth about intermittent fasting, and generally, it’s not true.
In fact, some studies indicate that intermittent fasting may even increase the basal metabolic rate (at least initially) and might potentially improve overall body composition.
Can I exercise during fasting?
Yes. You can continue all your usual activities, including exercise, while fasting. You do not need to eat before exercising to provide energy.
Instead, your body can burn stored energy (like body fat) for energy.
However, for long duration aerobic exercise, eating before exercise may increase performance.
This is good to know if you’re competing.
Keep in mind that it may be important to drink fluids and replenish sodium (salt) around exercise when fasting.
What are the possible side effects?
There can be a number of possible nuisance side effects of intermittent fasting.
Here’s what to do if you encounter them:
- Hunger is the most common side effect of intermittent fasting. This may be less of an issue if you’re already on a keto or low-carb, higher-fat diet.
- Constipation is common. Less going in means less going out. You don’t need medications unless you experience discomfort. Standard laxatives can be used to help.
- Headaches are common and tend to disappear after the first few times on fasts.
Taking some extra salt often helps mitigate such headaches.
- Mineral water may help if your stomach tends to gurgle.
- Other possible side effects include dizziness, heartburn, and muscle cramps.
A more serious side effect is the refeeding syndrome. Fortunately, this is rare and generally only happens with extended fasts (5-10 days or more) when one is undernourished.
Why does my blood sugar go up during fasting?
This is due to hormonal changes that occur during intermittent fasting. Your body is producing sugar in order to provide energy for your system. This is a variation of the Dawn Phenomenon.
How do I manage hunger?
The most important thing to realize is that hunger usually passes like a wave. Many people worry that hunger during intermittent fasting will continue to build until it is intolerable, but this does not normally happen.
Instead, hunger comes in a wave. If you simply ignore it and drink a cup of tea or coffee, it will often pass.
During extended fasts, hunger will often increase into the second day. After that, it gradually recedes; and many people report a complete loss of hunger sensation by day 3-4.
Your body is now being powered by fat. In essence, your body is ‘eating’ its own fat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and therefore is no longer hungry.
Won’t intermittent fasting burn muscle?
Not really. During fasting, the body first breaks down glycogen into glucose for energy. After that, the body increases fat breakdown to provide energy. Excess amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) are also used for energy, but the body does not burn its own muscle for fuel unless it has to.
It would be a long stretch of the imagination to think that our bodies store energy so carefully in the form of glycogen and fat only to burn muscle when it is needed.
In my experience with over 1,000 patients on various intermittent fasting regimens, exactly zero have complained that they have noticed significant muscle loss.
What are your top tips for intermittent fasting?
Here are the nine top tips, briefly:
- Drink water
- Stay busy
- Drink coffee or tea
- Ride out the hunger waves
- If people are not supportive of you intermittently fasting for health reasons, you don’t have to tell them
- Give yourself one month to see if intermittent fasting (such as 16:8) is a good fit for you
- Follow a low-carb diet between fasting periods. This reduces hunger and makes intermittent fasting easier.
It may also increase the effect on weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal, etc.
- Don’t binge after fasting
How do I break a fast?
Gently. The longer the fast, the more gentle you might have to be.
Eating too large a meal after fasting (a mistake that we have ALL done, myself included) can give you a stomach ache. While this is hardly serious, people usually learn quickly to eat as normally as possible after a fast.
Isn’t it important to have breakfast every morning?
Not necessarily. This appears to be an old misconception, based on speculation and statistics, and it does not hold up when it’s tested.
Skipping your morning meal gives your body more time to burn fat for energy. Since hunger is lowest in the morning, it may be easiest to skip it and break your fast later in the day.
Can women fast?
Yes, but there are exceptions. Women who are underweight, pregnant or breastfeeding should not fast.
Furthermore, for women trying to conceive, be aware that – perhaps especially for athletic women with low body fat percentage – intermittent fasting might increase the risk of irregular menses, and lower the chance of conception.
Other than that, there is no special reason why women should not fast.
Women can have problems during intermittent fasting, but so can men. Sometimes women do not get the results they want, but that happens to men, too.
Studies show that the average weight loss for women and men who fast is similar.
Isn’t fasting the same as reducing calories?
No, not necessarily. Fasting can reduce the time you spend eating and primarily addresses the question of “when to eat”.
Calorie reduction addresses the question of “what and how much to eat”. They are separate issues and should not be confused with each other.
Fasting may reduce calories but its benefits extend far beyond that.
Will I lose weight?
It is almost inconceivable that you will not lose weight if you do not eat.
In theory it’s of course possible to eat more after fasting, cancelling out the weight lost. But studies generally show that people tend to end up eating significantly less overall.
I call intermittent fasting “the ancient secret of weight loss” because it might be one of the most powerful dietary interventions for weight loss, yet it has been mostly ignored by doctors and dieticians for a long time.