Bringing your physics to the next level isn’t only about pushing your body to the limit during one hour of training. Maybe even more important than training is how you fuel your body. This is a 24/7 process. Food will help you in two ways: (1) it gives you the energy for your training and (2) provides the nutrients for your recovery. Both the quality of your nutrition as well as when you eat are essential. In recent years, Intermittent Fasting (IF) has become popular in the training industry. What exactly is IF? And could it help you in any way?
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a period of voluntary abstinence from food and drink for at least 14 to 16 hours. During this fasting period you are allowed to drink water and non-energy-containing drinks like coffee and tea. So, there are two periods during IF: (1) the fasting period (without or with very few calories to consume) and the feeding period (consuming energized food and drinks). IF is not a diet, there are no restrictions regarding what you eat. However, IF is more effective when combined with a divers diet based on healthy and fresh food sources (plant based and sea food proteins, healthy fats, vegetables) and less meat, dairy, wheat and processed food.
Intermittent Fasting – How?
Intermittent Fasting is usually done in one of these three ways:
- 5:2 method: In this schedule, IF is based on consuming food for 5 days and fasting or eating very few calories for 2 days (300-600 calories in just one meal during the day).
- Alternated Day Fasting (ADF): In this schedule, you have alternating days of eating at pleasure and eating none or very few calories (300-600 calories in just one meal during the day).
- 16:8 method: In this schedule, every day has a fixed time frame for eating and for fasting. There is a fasting period of 16 hours where no calories may be consumed and an 8-hour period of eating calories at pleasure.
What Happens to Your Body While Fasting?
Under regular circumstances, carbohydrates will be the main energy source for your body. Mitochondria (the energy units of the cells) will use glucose for all the processes that are going on in your cells. All the excess energy will get stored into fat cells of the body. When you start fasting your body will make a metabolic switch after about 12 hours because of a negative energy balance. Due to the lack of carbohydrates, the body starts using fat and ketones as an energy source for the mitochondria. The body switches from a glucose metabolism to a fat metabolism.
What Are the Benefits?
The metabolic switch actually ensures a lot of health benefits. IF has positive effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. One of the reasons why Intermittend Fasting leads to weight loss is the calorie deficit that you create by eating less.
But there are also some hormonal changes in the body. With IF, the level of growth hormone in your body increases. That has positive effect on lowering your body fat percentage and increases lean muscle mass. Another hormonal effect is the decrease in insulin production. Because of that affect, IF can help treat diseases like Diabetes type II and obesity. IF also helps the autophagy process in the body. Autophagy is a vital process in which your cells “clean out” any unnecessary or damaged components. Moreover, IF decreases the amount off oxidative stress reactions and inflammations in the body. And last but not least, it has been suggested that IF can reduce the risk of getting heart diseases, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Are There Negative Effects?
IF can also have some negative side effects. When you’re starting with IF you can have the following symptoms: dizziness, headache, double or blurred vision, confusion, irritableness, hungry, yawning, sweating, palpitations, trembling and restlessness. The body normally needs 10 to 14 days to completely get used to IF. Because of these possible side effects, IF is not recommended during pregnancy, in case of chronic stress, Anorexia Nervosa, in combination with medication for lowering blood sugar levels and for people who never followed a diet before.
Take Home Message
IF is a nutritional lifestyle that can have a positive effect on your health. Whether your goal is to have the best physical aesthetics or to just live a healthy lifestyle, IF is definitely a good way to reach those goals.
Let us know how you feel about it!
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