We have spoken on numerous occasions of intermittent fasting. This dietary pattern has numerous evidence of effectiveness in losing weight and maintaining it. But there are several strategies, which one is the best?
The sin of simplicity, in an aspect as complex as nutrition, does a disservice to our health. Therefore, it is better to answer carefully and much information to these and other questions related to intermittent fasting.
How does intermittent fasting work?
Intermittent fasting, or Intermittent Fasting (IF), consists of alternating periods without eating with periods of intake. Some of them are organized according to the weather. The best known are fasting 16/8, 24 and 48. With these figures, reference is made to the time spent without eating.
Thus, fasting 16/8 consists of performing periods of fasting for 16 hours, followed by periods in which we can eat normally for eight hours. For daily fasts, the strategy is to eat for 24 hours, fast for another 24, etc. Some fasts become prologized, as the denomination indicates, up to 48 hours or even more, although they are much more complicated.
In general, according to the evidence we have, you get a benefit after 12 hours of fasting, although this is somewhat more complicated, as we will see now. As we said, we cannot simplify and attribute all the merit of loss and weight control to fasting.
It is useless to spend a period without eating if when we do it it is uncontrolled and based on a very bad diet. Intermittent fasting will never replace a healthy diet and good nutrition education. Rather, it can help promote certain benefits related to a healthy lifestyle.
What benefits does intermittent fasting have?
As has been observed in numerous studies, temporary caloric restriction helps reduce the risk factors of various diseases, including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and even neurodegenerative diseases.
Other studies also suggest that reducing the intake time, and spacing between meals, helps reduce body fat, increase the amount of lean mass (muscle), reduce metabolic age and even help neuroplasticity.
It has been observed that intermittent fasting on alternate days, that is, 24 hours of intake and 24 hours of fasting, helps to quickly lose weight. The benefits, however, are observed after 12 hours of fasting. This is important for the next point: which is better then?
Fast short, but every day, or a few, but long?
As we have seen, it turns out that there is evidence that fasting for 24 hours, long, a couple of times a week, helps in weight loss, which is faster. Does that mean it is better? As we will remember, in matters of nutrition, speed is not always synonymous with something positive. Actually, it is usually the opposite.
Because if something has been observed is that, although faster, weight loss is no longer lasting. On the other hand, adopting a more aggressive fasting system can complicate the adoption of this system much more. Therefore, we are probably betting on the losing horse.
And, much more important than losing weight quickly, is to do it permanently. In other words, we must bet on adherence and lifestyle change, rather than on a matter of rapid weight loss.
For example, it is much easier to adopt a 16-hour fast in advance of dinner and not eating anything until 2:00 pm the next day, than to spend a whole day without eating. It is also much easier to adopt it on a social level in our daily lives.
After all, the benefits of intermittent fasting appear over time, and not in a short or medium space. On the other hand, when it comes to reducing weight, intermittent fasting seems quite similar, in results, to other types of diets, only that it would offer some more physiological benefit.
But, in short, it is much better if we opt for short but continuous fasting, simply, because they give a lot more foot to its adoption in a definitive way, changing our lifestyle. In the end, the real health benefit is given by adapting our diet and our physical activity to a new, constant style, and not so much the fast itself. To do this, of course, the shortest fast will be a better ally than the most difficult and long.