The intermittent fasting is one of the diets the most popular, at the moment. It is probably its simplicity that will have won over its many followers: no need to measure your portions or get yourself shakesor count your calories. All you have to do is not eat for a certain number of hours.
There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting. The most common is the “16: 8” diet, where you fast for 16 hours and then eat for the next 8 hours. There is also the “5: 2” diet, which reduces calories drastically for two days, and the 24-hour fast, which means not eating at all for a whole day, every month.
Whichever method you choose, significantly restricting the periods during which you eat can make your body a little confused and cause all kinds of side effects. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone – for example, people who have had an eating disorder in the past should definitely avoid this practice.
It is important to understand what you are getting into, before starting a new diet or changing your eating habits. Here is what happens in your body (psychologically, physically and emotionally) when you practice intermittent fasting.
you will perhaps losing weight
Several experts, including the personal trainer Jillian Michaels, agree that intermittent fasting may not be so great for losing weight. It’s that you won’t necessarily eat less, or maybe cut calories; there may only be longer periods when you are not eating.
That said, many people succeed in losing weight, since they consume fewer calories than usual, in the restricted periods during which they can eat.
Eating during an eight-hour window makes a big meal more unlikely before bedtime, which is a good thing. Our metabolism slows down when we sleep and therefore we burn fewer calories. Eat before bed is a practice that has been linked to obesity and diabetes.
Intermittent fasting “really prevents you from having bad habits, like eating a big meal before going to bed,” says Dr. John Morton, bariatric surgeon at Yale Medicine, the medical clinic affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at Yale University in Connecticut.
Eating a large meal shortly before going to bed is “probably the worst thing you can do if you are trying to lose weight,” he adds.
You will be very hungry
Many people who engage in fasting experience intense hunger, especially when they start this practice. This is because our bodies are used to using glucose – a sugar that comes from the food we eat – as fuel to get us through the day. When it is deprived of food (and therefore, glucose), the body sends signals to say, “Hello? Haven’t you forgotten something? “
Once your body has started to fast, it will start burning stored fat, rather than glucose, to get energy. And the longer you stay fasted, the more your body will be able to eliminate these fats.
The feeling of hunger should subside fairly quickly and your appetite should decrease, says Dr Morton. He also adds that fasting enthusiasts are feeling less and less of an irresistible urge and feeling of hunger as they continue to practice.
In the meantime, however, this feeling of hunger can cause some people to overeat.
“The natural tendency when you haven’t eaten anything for lunch is to say, ‘I’m going to eat more for dinner,'” notes Dr. Morton.
If hunger is too intense and prevents you from doing your daily activities, eat a little something. The idea is not to starve.
Your energy level and mood will fluctuate
The research has shown that fasting can make some people feel tired, dizzy, irritable or depressed.
“At first, your energy level may be very low, because you are not getting the nutrients you need,” said Sharon Zarabi, dietician and bariatric program manager at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
As your body gets used to fasting, your energy level will go up.
“Then your body uses energy more efficiently, and that improves mood, intellectual skills and long-term performance,” she says.
Some research even suggest that intermittent fasting may ultimately help fight depression and anxiety. When you fast, the body secretes a hormone called ghrelin, which, when produced in large quantities, has been linked to better mood.
Your gut health could be better
Many intermittent fasters note that they have a better gut health. Fasting gives your intestines the chance to rest and restart, since your digestive system does not have to deal with uncomfortable effects such as gas, diarrhea or bloating.
“Every time you fast, you give your body a break, during which it doesn’t have to metabolize what you just ate,” notes Sharon Zarabi. By fasting, the microbiome is allowed to recharge, which improves the digestive path. ”
You could reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases
Intermittent fasting has been associated with lower risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
According to one recent study from Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, this is because fasting reduces inflammation – and reducing inflammation helps the body fight many chronic inflammatory diseases, such as diabetes, heart problems , cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers are still trying to demonstrate how and why this is so, but the results so far suggest that the fasting body produces less monocytes, blood cells known to damage tissue and trigger inflammation.
This is one of the main reasons why those who practice intermittent fasting could live longer and healthier lives.
Your heart could be healthier
Intermittent fasting can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, fats whose presence in our blood is associated with heart disease – if you do lose weight during your gait.
“As long as you lose weight, you will improve these facets,” says Dr. Morton.
Before starting an intermittent fasting program, experts recommend talking about it with a doctor or nutritionist. There is a very important distinction between fasting and starving yourself, and if you ignore it, you could damage your organs and your immune system.
The most important thing is to listen to your body and eat the way that works best for you.
This text originally published on the HuffPost United States has been translated from English.