Advantages and disadvantages of Interval and prolonged fasting

“Now there are many methods of recovery and weight loss, which promise quick results with great benefit to the body,” says Elena kalen, psychologist, expert in the psychology of weight loss, the author of weight loss training. “Among them is the interval nutrition, which implies periods of fasting. Under periodic fasting means the intentional restriction of meal times in order to help your body to improve your health and keep themselves pure.”

What is interval fasting?

The essence of this method is that a person eats any food at a certain time of the day, and then for a certain period of time refuses to eat and drink only water. Today there are different ways of interval fasting – 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, Helen Callen highlights the following benefits of interval fasting:

Cleanses the body of toxins. When fasting, the body begins to use fat reserves and together with their melting, toxins are released, which are excreted in this period with water;
Helps reduce weight. Indeed, interval fasting will help to reduce weight, if in the period of the so-called window, you will eat healthy food and in the amount that is necessary for the body. I mean, not overeating. If in these 8 hours to eat as much food as eaten per day, this effect will not;
Increases brain activity. It is believed that fasting has a positive effect on brain activity and helps to work more effectively;
Increases energy level. With sufficient nutrition, but not excessive for the body, the body appears lightness, there is a surge of strength and energy;
Slows down aging. Indeed, fasting increases the body’s resistance to oxidative processes, which lead to aging.

At the same time, it should be noted the negative aspects of interval fasting. 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 child. In chronic diseases, fasting can cause them to relapse and worsen the situation;
    Lack of useful nutrients. As with 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 long-term practice of fasting, hormonal failures and disorders are possible. This is due to the restructuring of the body when changing diet;
    The slowing of the metabolism. Fasting slows down metabolism, respectively, fat burning processes slow down, and metabolic processes in the body will go at a reduced speed, which in the future can lead to weight gain;
    Breakdowns, insomnia,irritability.
  • Before you start periodic fasting, you should consult your doctor. This will help to save money, time and health.
  • In fact, you do not have to starve
  • Nikolai Karpov, lecturer of the Department of anatomy and physiology of humans and animals of Tyumen state University, believes that starvation can not be called:

“This is not exactly starvation in the literal sense of the word, as the day is divided into two periods: the period of food consumption and the period without food. This files most often provides for the division into 8 and 16 hours, respectively, because it is the most gentle and appropriate mode. 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 an energy substrate uses carbohydrates, which it can store 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 stocks of carbohydrates begin to run out, the body will take up the splitting of fats, first those in the liver, and then connect the fat depot. In case of interval fasting, the period without food is at least 16 hours. During this time, the reserves of carbohydrates will go away, because the stored glycogen is not much and it can last a maximum of half a day. From a biochemical point of view, the breakdown of fatty acids for energy purposes is accompanied by formation of so called ketone bodies. This is a normal process. Cells easily absorb them, so their concentration in the blood remains unchanged. Even brain cells are able to get energy from ketone bodies, not just glucose. But they still need glucose. The most important thing in kettiya not forget about the consumption of carbohydrates. And here’s the reason. In order to get energy from ketone bodies, they must contact the cell with oxaloacetate, which is formed only from carbohydrates. Lack of oxaloacetate will limit the process of splitting ketone bodies, which can lead to a shift in the acid-base balance. So from the point of view of biochemistry in an adult healthy person interval fasting will not cause problems. But from the point of view of physiology, initially there will be some effects associated with changing the time of eating. The fact is that the gastrointestinal tract is used to the schedule. But the main thing-used to the brain, especially the centers of hunger and saturation in the hypothalamus. Therefore, there will be an adaptation period to the new schedule for about 3 — 7 days.”

Also, do not forget that in any diet it is important to observe the correct ratio of macronutrients, as well as include fiber, because fast food with variable fasting is unlikely to bring you great joy. About the benefits and dangers of fiber, we wrote a separate article, but it is useful here advice Eugene Smirnov, founder of the service delivery of healthy food GooD food Academy:

“We are used to the fact that the quality and duration of life is determined by the way of life, ecology, genetic predisposition to various diseases, heredity and food that we consume. This also includes the General psycho-emotional state, and the”level of happiness”.

Each of these variables consists of many components, and its change can have much more consequences than is commonly believed. For example, the quality of nutrition affects the composition of the 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, up to asthma and atherosclerosis.

Most of the idea of the role of bacteria within our body is reduced to the regulation of digestion, but everything is much more serious: the weight of bacteria inside us can be up to 2 kg of pure weight, and they themselves interact closely with the human body, producing anti-inflammatory substances, vitamins (eg vitamin K2).

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In one study in 2011, a group of scientists led by Gary D. Wu found that the composition of the microflora of the average European varies quite a lot depending on the type of food: Europeans, as a rule, prefer vegetable food, predominates genus of bacteria Bacteroides, and eating a large amount of plant food, cereals with high fiber content – in the bacteria a lot of Prevotella. As it was established, our compatriots (especially those living outside the metropolis) are dominated by the genus Firmicutes, which just develop with an abundance of dietary fiber from cereals (buckwheat and oat flakes), as well as vegetables. Dietary fibers entering the body with food are not only a nutrient medium for these beneficial microorganisms, which, in turn, releasing various substances, have an impact on the level of adaptation and well-being of the “host”. Including-the speed of adaptability and learning new and at the same time and adaptation to various external phenomena and changes.

Thus, the high content of fiber in the diet affects not only the speed and quality of digestion, as is commonly believed, but also the speed of adaptation of the body to changes, the level of stress resistance and memory. And these parameters directly affect the quality and duration of life.”

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

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

However, prolonged fasting, despite the health benefits, should be carried out correctly and under the supervision of a doctor. Fasting for too long (more than 7 days) is not recommended, and there is no special sense — it will be much more convenient to observe regular posts on a daily basis for at least a few months before trying something more extreme.

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

Weight loss

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

  • Loss of glycogen. Because you don’t eat food (and especially carbohydrates), you will lose stores of stored glycogen in your muscles, which is a quick source of energy for them.
  • Water loss. When you fast for a few days, the loss of glycogen (or just sugar) in your muscles will lead to a loss of water reserves, which will also result in weight loss.
  • Fat loss. After the liver burns glycogen, the body plunges 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 you should starve just for the sake of weight loss, because there are other advantages.

Fasting increases autophagy

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When you starve for a long period of time, the body increases the processes of autophagy. 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 garbage cells and eliminates any oxidative stress. For the discovery of the process of autophagy, Yoshinori Osumi received the Nobel prize. According to Naomi Wittel, autophagy is useful for the body as follows:

  • Improves the quality and duration of life
  • Improves metabolism
  • And reduces inflammation
  • Improves muscle performance
  • Improves immunity
  • Improves skin quality
  • Improving 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, where there is no fast food, supermarkets-nothing like that. If there is not enough food, obviously, the body is looking for any ways to get it to survive. In our circumstances, it will be necessary to increase the ability to think and develop strategies for the application of 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 brain factor (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 time to think

If you’re not suffering from a serious illness (although there’s a lot of research to be done here), if you’re not injured or suffering from diabetes, let’s be honest, a few days without food (but not without water) won’t 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 and the food itself and looking for something tasty that we could do a lot of good if we did something else. Long fasting gives you the opportunity to think and spend time alone with yourself. Long fasting is a time for self-reflection and introspection.

Prolonged fasting increases will power

It is difficult for an untrained person to spend a few days without food. Yes, practicing interval fasting and special diets (keto, paleo), it becomes easier to endure prolonged deprivation of food, but the first post will be difficult. And that makes us stronger. Prolonged fasting is a great way to train your willpower. If you can live a few days without eating (and most people will never do it intentionally), you will be able to do anything. Willpower and discipline will always come in handy in any other area of life. After a prolonged interval of fasting fasting will seem a mere trifle.

Fasting renews the immune system

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


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Updated: March 15, 2019 — 12:23 am

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