Intermittent fasting has become fashionable to lose weight, especially among those who find it difficult to follow a diet to lose weight. Now, do you know what the intermittent fasting diet is and how it is carried out? In this article, we tell you in detail.

Intermittent fasting to lose weight

Losing weight can be a difficult task. If you suffer from food anxiety or simply cannot resist a succulent dish or a delicious dessert, read on.


What is intermittent fasting?

As the name implies, this diet to lose weight consists of making a fast sporadically, that is to say, that the person following this diet stops eating for a preset period.

Let’s give an example to make it clear: Maria has decided to try intermittent fasting to lose her extra pounds. For this reason, he has decided to fast twice a week for 16 hours, always with medical control.

The intermittent fasting diet is not related to any foodborne illness. On the contrary, it must be controlled by a nutritionist.

How does this diet work?

Fasting does not mean starvation but choosing not to eat for a period of time to burn fat.

According to the people who support this diet, every time we eat, we eat more energy than necessary. Thus, our body keeps it for later use, when required.

The sugar in which carbohydrates break down can only enter the cells with the help of insulin, the hormone produced by the pancreas that is responsible for helping to store energy for when it is needed.

When we ingest more energy than we use, a part of it is converted into fat and distributed throughout our body. When fasting, insulin levels drop (not being necessary to store sugars) and the body begins to use stored fat for energy.

The functioning of the diet is, then, easy to understand: it is assumed that when interspersed periods of food intake (high insulin) and energy storage with periods of fasting (low insulin), the body will burn more fat than when found in a Continuous state of consumption.

Thus, the person who adheres to this diet must perform pre-established fasts that may have a different duration depending on personal needs (and willpower).

Types of intermittent fasting diet

This diet can be carried out in innumerable different ways. However, we want to present below the main models to carry it out:

  1. Fasting 12/12: this diet would involve having breakfast and dinner, separated by 12 hours of fasting. For example, have breakfast at 7 in the morning and have dinner at 7 pm.
  2. Fasting 16/8: the idea here is to fast for 16 hours (drinking fluids, of course) and then feed for 8 hours. In this way, we could establish a fasting period of 21 to 13 hours and a feeding of 13 to 21.
  3. Fasting 20/4: The fasting period is extended to 20 hours, followed by 4 hours where food can be eaten.
  4. Fasting 24: the fasting period is, in this case, a full day. Water consumption is allowed, of course, and fasting takes place every other day. For example, one day or two days a week, alternated with days of habitual intake.
  5. Fasting 48: who follows the diet must fast for two whole days, always maintaining good hydration.

Is it healthy to fast?

Every day we fast, even without wanting to. The definition of fasting is not eating food for a period of time, just what we do daily while we sleep.

According to different studies, when fasting is controlled within a balanced diet and there are no health problems such as diabetes, it could be beneficial for weight loss and thus reduce cardiovascular risks caused by fat accumulation.

However, some specialists point out that fasting could cause serious damage to the body in pregnant people, with diabetes problems (because fasting could cause hypoglycemia) or other chronic problems.

Before you start on the intermittent fasting diet, consult your doctor about it.

Its benefits are similar to those of other diets

Different studies have suggested that the benefits of intermittent fasting would be similar to those of other diets.

In 2018, the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) conducted an investigation called HELENA. There, it was sought to establish if the intermittent fasting diet could become really beneficial for weight loss and if it caused damage to health. The conclusions of the study were the following:

  • It is a diet similar to others to lose weight.
  • You can mainly help those who have problems maintaining discipline every day of the week.
  • The loss of kilos of those who fasted was similar to that of the control group that performed a conventional diet.

Fasting would reduce body fat

Another 2016 investigation suggested that performing 12/8 fasting for 8 weeks, in conjunction with training sessions, by men would help improve health markers while reducing body fat, without causing loss of muscle mass

It would help modify the appetite

The specialists also studied a group of people with obesity and prediabetes to determine if this diet would be suitable for them. The fast was done in such a way that people ate food for a period of 8 hours a day.

The results showed that, after five weeks, the patients had decreased their appetite as well as their blood pressure, although they had not lost weight.

Risks of intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is not exempt from causing side effects; Therefore, it must be done under medical supervision.

As we have already mentioned, there are no conclusive results that guarantee 100% the benefits of intermittent fasting. In fact, at the annual meeting of the European Endocrinology Society held in 2018 in Barcelona, ​​possible consequences on the metabolism were suggested when fasting:

  1. Possibility of developing type 2 diabetes: in a study in rats it was observed that, after intermittent fasting, they lost weight. However, it increased the accumulation of fat in the abdomen, a situation that has been shown to be related to the possible development of type 2 diabetes.
  2. Cancer and cardiovascular disease risk: intermittent fasting may increase oxidative stress and free radical production, two situations that according to current data would accelerate DNA aging, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and neuronal degenerations.
  3. Damage in insulin secretion by pancreatic cells.
  4. High levels of free radicals.
  5. Signs of insulin resistance. At this point, researchers have noted that many people with obesity should already be considered insulin resistant before fasting.

The specialists pointed out that, despite helping to lose weight rapidly, the intermittent fasting diet could seriously harm the body, which is why they do not recommend its follow-up.

If you plan to start on the intermittent fasting diet, consult your doctor about it. The professional will know how to guide you and recommend if really fasting could be the best for you or not.