Interval and prolonged fasting: pros and cons

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“Now, there are many methods of healing and weight loss that promise fast results with huge benefits for the body,” says Elena Cullen, psychologist, expert in psychology of weight loss author training weight loss. “Among them is interval diet, which involves 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 the person eats any food at certain times of the day, and then at some period of time and is refusing food and drinking only water. Today there are different ways interval of fasting – 16/8, 2/4, 24/0, 14/10. For example, 16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating. 16 hours of fasting, only drinking water. But in the period of meals, restrictions on the composition of the food no can eat any food, including calories.

Our expert, Helen Callen highlights the following benefits of interval fasting:

  • Cleanses the body of toxins and impurities. When fasting, the body begins to use fat reserves and along with their melting is a selection of toxins, which are displayed in the period water;
  • Helps to reduce weight. Indeed, interval fasting will help you lose weight, if the period of the so-called window, you will eat useful food and in the quantities the body needs. That is, do not overeat. If in these 8 hours to eat as much food as was eaten for a day, this effect will be;
  • Increases brain activity. It is believed that fasting positively affects brain activity and helps to work more effectively;
  • Increases the level of energy. When the power is sufficient but not excessive for the body, in the body there is ease, there is a surge of strength and energy;
  • Slows down aging. Do fasting contributes to increase resistance of the organism to oxidative processes, which leads to aging.

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

  • This method is not for everyone. If you have chronic diseases, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, pregnancy or lactation, it is not your method. Pregnancy and lactation there is a risk of insufficient supply of nutrients from mother to fetus or child. In chronic diseases fasting may cause them to relapse and aggravate the situation;
  • Lack of essential nutrients. As with any restriction of food, starvation leads to the lack of nutrients that can affect the skin, hair, nails, nervous system;
  • Hormonal disturbance. With prolonged practice of fasting possible hormonal disruptions and violations. This is due to changes in the body when changing power mode;
  • The slowing of the metabolism. Starvation slows down the metabolism, accordingly the fat-burning process to slow down, and metabolic processes in the body are to go at reduced speed, which may further lead to weight gain;
  • Breakdowns, insomnia, irritability.

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

In fact, fasting will not have

Nikolay Karpov, the Professor of anatomy and physiology of humans and animals, Tyumen state University, believes that fasting can not be called:

“It’s not really fasting in the truest sense of the word, since the day is divided into two intervals: the period of food intake 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 implications of using this method of weight loss is similar to using low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets. It so happened that the first organism as an energy substrate using the carbohydrates which it can defer in the form of glycogen in liver and muscles as a reserve. Despite the fat reserves, which can be hundreds of times more. Only when the stock carb starts to run, the body will undertake lipolysis, first those in the liver and then mounts the fat depots. Interval fasting period without food is at least 16 hours. During this time the stock carb will go away because the stored glycogen does not happen a lot and it can last up to 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 obtain energy from ketone bodies, and not only from glucose. But glucose they also need. The most important thing in kettiya not forget about the consumption of carbohydrates. And that’s the reason why. In order to obtain energy from ketone bodies, they should communicate in a cage with oxaloacetate, which is formed only from carbohydrates. The lack of oxaloacetate to limit the breakdown of ketone bodies, which can lead to the displacement of the acid-alkaline balance. So from the point of view of biochemistry from healthy adult interval fasting will not cause a problem. But from the point of view of physiology, initially there will be some effects associated with changes in mealtime. The fact that the gastrointestinal tract used to the schedule. But the main thing — accustomed brain, especially the centers of hunger and satiety in the hypothalamus. Therefore, will occur 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, and include fiber, because eating junk food with varying degrees of starvation is unlikely to bring you much joy. About the benefits and dangers of fiber we wrote a separate article, but it would be helpful here, the Council Eugenia Smirnova, founder of the delivery service of healthy eating GooD FooD Academy:

“We’ve learned that the quality and length of life is determined by lifestyle, environment, genetic predisposition to disease, heredity and the food we eat. This can be attributed to and General psycho-emotional state, and the “level of happiness”.

Each of these variables is made of many components, and its variation can give a lot more impact than is commonly believed. For example, the quality of food influences the composition of the microflora within us, which in turn not only affect the digestion and rashes on the skin, but also on the possibility of various diseases, including asthma and atherosclerosis.

Most view on the role of bacteria in our body is to regulate digestion, however, it’s more than that: the weight of the bacteria within us may be up to 2 kg of pure mass, and they closely interact with the human body, producing anti-inflammatory agents, vitamins (e.g. vitamin K2).

In one study, in 2011 a group of scientists under the leadership of Gary D. Wu found that the composition of the microflora of the average European is quite varies depending on the type of meal: the Europeans usually prefer vegetarian food, dominated by a genus of bacteria Bacteroides, and eating a lot of plant food, cereals with a high fiber is composed of many Prevotella bacteria. As it was established, our compatriots (especially those living outside the city) is dominated by the genus Firmicutes, which develop due to the abundance of diet dietary fiber from cereals (buckwheat and oatmeal) and vegetables. Dietary fiber that enters the body with food are not only nutritious environment for these beneficial microorganisms, which in turn, highlighting the various substances have an impact including on the level of adaptation and well-being of the host. Including — speed adaptability, and learning new and at the same time and adapt to various external events and changes.

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

Prolonged starvation, or just simply post: what is the difference between interval fasting?

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

However, prolonged starvation, despite the health benefits, must be carried out correctly and under the supervision of a physician. Fasting for too long (over 7 days) is not recommended, and not make much sense — much better to comply with regular posts on a daily basis at least a few months before trying something more extreme.

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

Weight loss

The first and most obvious advantage stems from the inevitable consequences of refusal to eat for a long time. Prolonged starvation leads to rapid weight loss. When you fast for several days, you lose weight for three main reasons:

  • Loss of glycogen. Since you are not eating food (especially carbs) you will lose reserves accumulated glycogen in the muscles, and it is a quick source of energy for them.
  • The loss of water. When you are fasting for a few days, the loss of glycogen (or sugar) in your muscles will lead to the loss of water supplies that also will result in weight loss.
  • Fat-loss. After the liver will burn glycogen, the body will plunge into a deep state of ketosis. In this mode, the body burns fat for energy.

Prolonged fasting is a sure way to lose more weight than normal fasting interval. But this does not mean that you should starve just for the sake of weight loss because there are other benefits.

Fasting increases autophagy

When you fast for an extended period of time in the body increase the process of autophagy. Autophagy is when the body recycles cellular waste, debris and dead cells (like incorrect folding of the protein), which results in obvious advantages for you. Autophagy recycles weak garbage of the cell and eliminates any oxidative stress. For the discovery of the process of autophagy, Yoshinori Osumi received the Nobel prize. According to Naomi Whittel, autophagy is useful for the body following:

  • Improves the quality and duration of life
  • Improves metabolism
  • And reduces inflammation
  • Improves muscular figures
  • 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’re in the wild where there are no fast-food, shopping — anything. If the food is not enough, obviously, the body is looking for any ways to get it to survive. In our situation, we will increase the ability to think and to formulate strategies for the application of a creative approach in search of food. Fasting improves cognitive abilities, especially have held for long periods of time. Prolonged fasting increases so-called brain neurotrophic factor brain (BDNF), which acts as a fertilizer for the new neurons. Synaptic plasticity is improved and the brain becomes more resistant to stress.

Fasting for several days gives you time to think

If you are suffering from serious illness (although one needs to spend a lot of research) if you are injured or do not suffer 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 worldwide for thousands of years, and not just. We spend so much time thinking about food, the food itself and the search for something tasty that could do many useful things if I had others. Prolonged fasting gives an opportunity to reflect and spend time alone with yourself. Long lent is a time for self-reflection and introspection.

Prolonged fasting increases will power

An inexperienced person is difficult to spend a few days without food. Yes, practicing interval fasting and special diets (keto, paleo), it becomes easier to tolerate prolonged food deprivation, but the first post will be difficult. And it makes us stronger. Prolonged fasting is a great way to train willpower. If you can live several days without food (but most people never do it deliberately), you’ll be able to do anything. Willpower and discipline will always help you in any other area of our lives. 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 fast for an extended period of time, reduction of white blood cells increases the rate of regeneration of new immune cells. A six-month study in humans and rodents, undergoing chemotherapy, have shown that fasting for 72 hours led to a significant improvement in health due to leaching from the body blood cells and other toxins.

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