Interval and prolonged fasting: the pros and cons

"Now there are a lot of methods of recovery andweight loss, which promise fast results with great benefits for the body, ”says Elena Kalen, a psychologist, expert in weight loss psychology, author of weight loss training. “Interval nutrition stands out among them, which means periods of fasting. By periodic fasting is meant deliberately limiting the time of eating in order to help your body improve its health and purify it. ”

What is interval starvation?

The essence of this method is that a person eats anyfood at a certain time of the day, and then for some period of time refuses food and drinks only water. Today there are different ways of interval starvation - 16/8, 2/4, 24/0, 14/10. For example, 16 hours of fasting, 8 hours of food. At 16 hours of fasting, you can only drink water. But during the meal, there are no restrictions on the composition of food, you can eat any food, including high-calorie.

Our expert, Elena Kalen highlights the following advantages of interval starvation:

  • Cleans the body from toxins and slags. When fasting, the body begins to use fat reserves and, together with their melting, toxins and slags are released, which are removed during this period with water;
  • Helps to lose weight. Indeed, interval fasting will help reduce weight, if during the so-called window, you will eat healthy food and in the amount that the body needs. That is, do not overeat. If, at these 8 hours, to eat as much food as was eaten per day, there would be no such effect;
  • Increases brain activity. It is believed that fasting has a positive effect on brain activity and helps to work more efficiently;
  • Increases energy levels. When food is sufficient, but not excessive for the body, lightness appears in the body, there is a surge of strength and energy;
  • Slows down aging. Indeed, fasting contributes to an increase in the body’s resistance to oxidative processes, which lead to aging.

At the same time, it should be noted, and the negative aspects of interval starvation. Among them:

  • This method is not suitable for everyone. If you have chronic diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, pregnancy or lactation, then this is not your method. During pregnancy and lactation there is a risk of insufficient intake of nutrients from the mother to the fetus or baby. In chronic diseases, fasting can cause their recurrence and aggravate the situation;
  • Lack of beneficial nutrients. Like any food restriction, fasting leads to a lack of nutrients that can affect the condition of the skin, hair, nails, nervous system;
  • Violation of hormonal background. With prolonged fasting, hormonal disruptions and disturbances are possible. This is due to the restructuring of the body when changing diet;
  • Slow metabolism. Fasting slows down the metabolism, respectively, fat burning processes slow down, and the metabolic processes in the body will go on at a reduced speed, which can later lead to weight gain;
  • Breakdowns, insomnia, irritability.

Before you begin a periodic fasting, you should consult with your doctor. This will help save money, time and health.

In fact, do not have to starve

Nikolai Karpov, a lecturer at the Department of Anatomy and Human and Animal Physiology of Tyumen State University, believes that it cannot be called starvation:

"This is not exactly fasting in the truest sense of the word,since the day is divided into two periods: the period of food consumption and the period without food. Most often, the division into 8 and 16 hours, respectively, is envisaged, since this is the most benign and adequate regimen. The meaning of using this method of weight loss is similar to the use of low-carb ketogenic diets. It so happened that the body first of all as a power substrate uses carbohydrates, which it can set aside in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles in reserve. Despite the fat reserves, which can be hundreds of times more. Only when the carbohydrate reserves start running out will the body take on the breakdown of fats, first those in the liver, and then connect the fat depots. With interval fasting, the gap without food is at least 16 hours. During this time, carbohydrate reserves will go away, since there is not a lot of stored glycogen and it can be enough for a maximum of half a day. From a biochemical point of view, the breakdown of fatty acids for energy purposes is accompanied by the formation of so-called ketone bodies. This is a normal process. Cells easily assimilate them, so their concentration in the blood remains unchanged. Even brain cells are able to get energy from ketone bodies, and not just from glucose. But they still need glucose. The most important thing in ketodiets not to forget about the consumption of carbohydrates. And yet for what reason. In order to get energy from ketone bodies, they must be bound in the cell with oxaloacetate, which is formed only from carbohydrates. The lack of oxaloacetate will limit the process of splitting ketone bodies, which can lead to a shift in acid-base equilibrium. So from the point of view of biochemistry in an adult healthy person, interval starvation will not cause problems. But from the point of view of physiology, initially there will be some effects associated with changes in meal times. The fact is that the gastrointestinal tract is used to the schedule. But the main thing is that the brain is used, especially the centers of hunger and satiety in the hypothalamus. Therefore, there will be an adaptation period to a new schedule for about 3 to 7 days. ”

Also do not forget that in any modenutrition, it is important to maintain the correct ratio of macronutrients, as well as include fiber, because eating fast food with variable starvation is unlikely to bring you great joy. We wrote a separate article about the benefits and harms of fiber, but the advice of Evgeny Smirnov, the founder of the GooD FooD Academy healthy food delivery service, will be useful here:

"We are used to the quality and durationlife is determined by lifestyle, ecology, genetic predisposition to various diseases, heredity and the food we consume. This also includes the general psycho-emotional state and the “level of happiness.”

Each of these variables is made up ofsets of components, and its change can give much more consequences than is commonly believed. For example, the quality of nutrition affects the composition of microflora within us, which, in turn, affect not only the processes of digestion and rash on the skin, but also the possibility of developing various diseases, including asthma and atherosclerosis.

Most have an idea of ​​the role of bacteriainside our body is reduced to regulating the processes of digestion, but everything is much more serious: the weight of bacteria inside us can be up to 2 kg of pure mass, and they themselves closely interact with the human body, producing anti-inflammatory substances, vitamins (for example, vitamin K2).

In one study in 2011 a group of scientistsunder the leadership of Gary D. Wu found that the composition of the microflora of the average European quite varies depending on the type of food: the Europeans, usually preferring plant food, are dominated by the bacterium of bacteria Bacteroides, and eating high amounts of plant foods - There are a lot of Prevotella in the bacteria. As it was possible to establish, our compatriots (especially those living outside the megalopolis) are dominated by the genus Firmicutes, which develop precisely with an abundance of dietary fiber from cereals (buckwheat and oatmeal), as well as vegetables. Dietary fiber entering the body with food is not only a nutrient medium for these beneficial microorganisms, which, in turn, releasing various substances, affect the level of adaptation and well-being of the host. Including - the rate of adaptability and learning new and at the same time adapting to various external phenomena and changes.

Thus, high fiber content inThe diet affects not only the speed and quality of digestion, as is commonly believed, but also the speed at which an organism adapts to changes, stress tolerance and memory. And these parameters directly affect the quality and longevity. "

Prolonged fasting, or simply strict fasting: what is the difference from interval fasting?

As we have already found out, interval starvationIt is usually observed for 16, 18 or 20 hours a day, but there are also special advantages that you receive as a result of fasting for longer periods (24-72 hours).

However, prolonged fasting, despitehealth benefits should be carried out correctly and under the supervision of a physician. It is not recommended to starve for too long (more than 7 days), and there is not much point - it will be much more convenient to observe regular posts on a daily basis for at least several months before trying something more extreme.

So, the benefits of prolonged fasting (in many ways they will cross with the advantages of interval starvation or even multiply them):

Weight loss

The first and most obvious advantage is duewith the inevitable consequences of not eating for a long time. Prolonged fasting leads to rapid weight loss. When you fast for several days, you lose weight for three main reasons:

  • Loss of glycogen. Since you do not eat food (and especially carbohydrates), you will lose reserves of accumulated glycogen in muscles, and this is a quick source of energy for them.
  • Water loss. When you fast for several days, the loss of glycogen (or just sugar) in your muscles will also lead to the loss of water reserves, which will also result in weight loss.
  • Fat loss. After the liver burns glycogen, the body will plunge into a state of deep ketosis. In this mode, the body burns fat for energy.

Prolonged fasting is a sure way to lose more weight than regular interval fasting. But this does not mean that it is necessary to starve just for the sake of losing weight, because there are other advantages.

Fasting increases autophagy

When you fast for a long timeperiod of time, in the body the processes of autophagy are growing. Autophagy is when the body processes cellular waste, debris, and dead bodies (like incorrect protein folding), which translates into obvious advantages for you. Autophagy recycles weak junk cells and eliminates any oxidative stress. For the discovery of the autophagy process, Yosinori Osumi received the Nobel Prize. According to Naomi Whittel, autophagy is beneficial for the body as follows:

  • Improves quality and longevity
  • Improves metabolism
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Improves muscle performance
  • Improves immunity
  • Improves skin quality
  • Improves digestion
  • Promotes healthy weight loss
  • Minimizes apoptosis (cell death)

Prolonged fasting is good for the brain.

Let's imagine that we are in the wild, whereno fast foods, supermarkets - nothing. If there is little food, obviously, the body is looking for any way to get it in order to survive. In our conditions, it will be necessary to increase the ability to think and develop strategies for applying creativity in the search for food. Fasting improves mental ability, especially eating is carried out for long periods of time. Prolonged fasting increases the so-called brain neurotropic factor of the brain (BDNF), which works as a fertilizer for new neurons. Synaptic plasticity improves and the brain becomes more resistant to stress.

Fasting for a few days gives you time to think

If you do not suffer from severe illness(although you need to do a lot of research here), if you are not injured or do not suffer from diabetes, let's be honest, a few days without food (but not without water) will not hurt you. Fasting has been a spiritual practice for many religions and cultures around the world for thousands of years, and for a reason. We spend so much time thinking about food, about food itself, and looking for something tasty that we could have done a lot of good if we were engaged in something else. Long fasting gives you the opportunity to think and spend time alone with yourself. A long post is a time for self-reflection and introspection.

Prolonged fasting increases willpower

Unprepared person is difficult to holdseveral days without food. Yes, practicing interval fasting and special diets (keto, paleo), it becomes easier to endure prolonged food deprivation, but the first post will be difficult. And it makes us stronger. Longer fasting is a great way to train your willpower. If you can live a few days without food (and most people will never do it intentionally), you will be able to do anything you want. Willpower and discipline will always be useful in any other area of ​​life. After a long fast, interval fasting will seem like a mere trifle.

Fasting Updates the Immune System

According to scientists at the University of Southern California,Each time you fast for an extended period of time, a decrease in white blood cells increases the rate of regeneration of new immune cells. A six-month study on humans and rodents undergoing chemotherapy showed that fasting for 72 hours led to a significant improvement in health due to the leaching of blood cells and other toxins from the body.

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