Intermittent Fasting for Building a Beautiful and Healthy Body
What Is It?
Recently, magazines, newspapers, television, and the Internet are full of messages about the new "miracle diet" called intermittent fasting.
This is a conscious limitation of the eating time or incorporation of short fasting periods into the daily routine. This is not a controversial therapeutic fasting, but partially justified way of muscle building and fat loss.
The classic bodybuilding approach to creating sexy muscle states that persistent muscle mass gain is the first thing to do. During this period, an athlete consumes much more calories than his body can spend. Besides, regular intense workouts should complement a healthy diet.
Then comes the second, cutting phase, the period of burning body fat while saving muscle. During this period, the caloric content of the food is sharply reduced, and catabolic processes are prevented by the consumption of food in small portions every 2–3 hours.
However, this method is not particularly healthy. At first, a sharp increase in weight makes the heart work harder for a long time, and then a strict diet causes irritability, loads the kidneys, and decreases the sensitivity of tissues to insulin. It is not beneficial for the body.
The intermittent fasting system was developed as an alternative. Martin Berkhan is the author of this technique. Judging by his results and the success of his clients, it seems obvious that this method certainly works.
Basic Fasting Schemes
To date, the following 2 schemes are most commonly used.
24 Hours of Complete Fasting
The essence of this technique lies in the fasting for one day per week. You can only drink water during this time. There are options with an increase of the fasting term up to 36 hours, but not many people really use them.
How the meals should be taken in this case? Just before fasting, you should have a nourishing dinner. After 24 hours of fasting, your first meal should be as light as possible. A salad and a piece of boiled fish are a good option. For the rest of the days, you can get back to the food you used to eat.
This kind of fasting is quite easily tolerated by the body. But, nevertheless, you should not forget to take BCAA amino acids during this period. Most of the weight loss comes from fat stores, while the muscles are almost completely saved.
The dynamics of intermittent fasting suggests that the most significant fat loss occurs in the first few weeks, then the process goes slower, and finally comes the balance.
Daily Limitation of the Eating Time
The second scheme involves daily fasting for a certain number of hours. Most experts in this field suggest sticking to the 12\12 plan at the initial stage, with the half-day fasting period and the remaining 12 hours when you can consume the food.
However, experience shows that the most impressive results are achieved by extending the period of food restriction to 16 hours.
In the latter case, the diet is divided into three meals that should be taken during the allotted 8 hours. The most abundant meal, during which you need to consume 50% of your daily ration, should be taken after a workout.
It is suggested that breakfast can be skipped and the food can be consumed in the afternoon. This technique is mostly designed for those who go to work early in the morning, then work out, and eat an abundant meal at home in the evening. It is the majority of our population.
Reviews show that this method of food consumption really helps achieve good results. Presumably, this is due to the fact that intermittent fasting increases the amount of glycogen in the muscles. Each gram of it accumulates 2.5 grams of water, so the muscles grow "like yeast".
Besides, this method helps not only lose weight at the initial stage, but also increase it further. In this case, the weight gain is achieved due to the increase of muscle mass, not fat.
Diet Option for Women
This effective diet can be also used by the girls who want to lose a few pounds.
The oncologist Tony Havel and the famous American dietitian Michael Harvey released a book entitled "Fast Diet". According to the dietary system presented in the book, 2 times a week you should limit the number of your meals to 2, each containing 500–600 calories.
The days of the week can be randomly chosen and they should not necessarily go one after another. This method helps lose up to 3 kilograms per month.
Pros and Cons, Contraindications
The fasting technique has positive and negative sides, in comparison with other methods. For convenience, we represent them in the form of a table:
Of course, the number of positive and negative sides may differ for each person, taking into account the individual body characteristics.
The intermittent fasting studies are still conducted. But doctors agree that you should not use this technique if you have the following health problems:
- malignant tumors;
- your body mass index is below 18–20 units;
- tuberculosis or bronchiectasis;
- blood circulatory disorders;
- heart failure or arrhythmia;
- kidney failure;
- cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis.
Scientific Basis: Benefits or Harms?
In 2014, on the basis of this academic college, it was found that reduction of the caloric content of the food leads to greater longevity and eases the course of diseases specific to old age. According to the research, the participants (24 people) used a special diet that consisted in alternating the amount of calories consumed (from 25% of the daily requirement to 175%).
The study was conducted in two stages, each lasted 3 weeks. The first results showed that the alternation of the number of calories consumed reduced the plasma insulin levels (1.01 mU / ml) and increased SIRT3 (sirtuins) expression by 2.7%. Although, practical experience has shown that this technique does not harm a healthy person, the college researchers continue to conduct experiments in this field.
According to the study that was conducted on 7 thousand animals, it was found that the fasting periods increase the number of biologically active metabolites in the body. The period after fasting is characterized by enhanced growth of body tissues and rapid weight gain, without any problems, moreover, wounds and injuries heal faster, and the body’s immunity improves.
However, the more time passes after fasting and the more the animal’s weight increases, the less noticeable are the therapeutic properties of the metabolites. The further experiments have shown that the life of the test animals can be prolonged by means of periodic dietary restrictions.
In his book, "Weight correction. Theory and practice of healthy eating", the physiologist does not agree with colleagues and believes that the method of intermittent fasting does more harm than good.
Thus, it is not fat, but amino acids that are the first to get burned during fasting. Once protein stores run out, the muscle fibers start to degenerate. Besides, a day of glucose deficiency begins the dystrophic processes in the brain.
Reducing the fat intake leads to the inspissated bile syndrome that may cause the formation of gallstones. In patients with diabetes, the 24-hour fasting increases the risk of hypoglycemic coma.
Let's sum up the main points of the article:
- The question of the effect of intermittent fasting on the body has not been fully studied, so there are both supporters and opponents of this method.
- Reducing the caloric content of the food with this technique increases the chance of losing weight due to fat loss, not muscle.
- Fasting promotes cell repair and regeneration processes that help lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
- Intense workouts can cause nutrient deficiency, which can reduce your results.
- During fasting, it is very important to maintain the water balance. If you do not quench your thirst in time, the negative consequences for the body increase.