Is the intermittent fasting method really effective?

You have probably already come across people around you who proudly announce that they do “intermittent fasting”.

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Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting

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In case you haven’t heard of the trend yet: it is an eating pattern that limits meals to certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.

The most common pattern is called 8:16, which means: eat within 8 hours and fast for 16 hours a day (with only drinking water).

Sound extreme? Well, this was actually the eating pattern of our ancestors. In human history, most people ate fasting intermittently – simply because the availability of food was not continuous and these were the constraints of life.

In recent decades, many studies have been carried out on the effect of intermittent fasting on health, function and the risk of diseases.

In his new book “Intermittent Fasting as a Way of Life”, which was recently published in Hebrew by Focus Publishing, Prof. Mark Matson – who has decades of research on the subject behind him – claims that intermittent fasting is the eating pattern that is actually designed for our body, and therefore it is also the one that benefits it in many aspects.

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Improvement in cognitive ability, slowing down Alzheimer's and Parkinson's processesImprovement in cognitive ability, slowing down Alzheimer's and Parkinson's processes

Improvement in cognitive ability, slowing down Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s processes

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According to him, the studies show extraordinary results not only on the weight, on the metabolic state, on the sugar level and on the blood pressure – but also on cognitive ability, slowing down the processes of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, regeneration of damaged nerves, improvement of the intestinal flora, effect on autoimmune diseases, improvement of efficiency of Chemotherapy in cancer conditions, improvement in sports performance and more.

How do you do that?

In intermittent fasting you don’t necessarily have to eat less, but just create many hours of fasting several times a week or even on a daily basis.

It turns out that during prolonged fasting, the body, which needs proteins, breaks down useless organelles and old proteins and actually improves the function of all cells.

The purpose of the process from the point of view of the body is to circulate proteins, but we also benefit from this by improving the metabolism of the cell and its function. This process is called autophagy, and it actually underlies the many benefits of intermittent fasting.

What breaks a fast? and what not?

Ingredients that break a fast are those that contain calories, protein, or a flavor that is not just bitter (most flavors, with the exception of the bitter flavor, may raise insulin levels). But not every break is significant.

For example: coffee contains an extremely negligible amount of calories when consumed in its “clean” form (coffee and water only), it does not contain protein and it tastes bitter. That is: even if it breaks a fast, it is completely negligible, so we will treat it as a component that does not break a fast.

The same goes for black tea, white tea, green tea and tea made from relatively bitter plants (such as sage, parsley, etc.).

One of the most important things is the amount of protein in each meal. During the fast, the body breaks down worn-out organelles in the cells, but as soon as you started eating – you want to build these new and functioning organelles.

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During the 8 hours of eating, the recommendation is to include protein in every mealDuring the 8 hours of eating, the recommendation is to include protein in every meal

During the 8 hours of eating, the recommendation is to include protein in every meal

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Since protein is the most important building block in the body, it is important to maintain a sufficient amount of protein when you eat.

Protein is found in high amounts in animal products (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheeses and dairy products) and in some plant products (tofu, tempeh, soy flakes, legumes and some grains such as quinoa and buckwheat), so the recommendation is to include protein in every meal.

How much protein? At least a third of the total volume of the meal, or at least 8 grams of protein per kg of standardized or ideal body weight (and there are populations that need more than that, such as people in their prime, athletes, etc.).

The smaller the number of meals per day (or the number of eating days per week, depending on the protocol you started), the more the amount of protein per meal should increase, in order to provide the minimum desired protein on the days or hours you eat.

Another thing that is important to pay attention to is diversity in all the components of the meal from day to day and from meal to meal. For example, in protein – one day eat a portion of meat as protein, one day fish, one day eggs, etc.

Or in vegetables – one day a fresh salad, one day other vegetables in the oven and so on. This will ensure diversity in the nutritional components you receive on a weekly basis, and will allow your body to complete a component it did not receive today – on another day.

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