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Intermittent Fasting: the pros and cons at a glance ...!

  1. You've probably heard of it: Intermittent Fasting, also known as intermittent fasting or IF for short. It is one of the most popular diet and nutritional hypes. People attribute the greatest miracle powers to the method.

  1. But does Intermittent Fasting really offer all the benefits it is known for? And for which physical goals should you use it or not use it? In today's blog we put it all together. This way you are optimally prepared if you want to try it yourself!

What is Intermittent Fasting?

  1. The name says it all: Intermittent Fasting is all about fasting. Not constantly, of course; after all, that is certainly not a sustainable diet. Instead, it is about the alternation between eating and not eating, so intermittent fasting. You set certain fasting periods for yourself, and only plan your meals outside of them.

  1. It is important to note that at IF you do not necessarily eat less than you normally would. Sometimes this is an unintended consequence, but it is certainly not the approach of the method. The idea is simply that you plan for the usual amount of calories within a shorter time frame.

Different Intermittent Fasting Protocols

  1. How and when you plan your fasting periods is very flexible within Intermittent Fasting. In principle you can do whatever suits you best! For example, you can choose whether to schedule your fasting times on certain days, at what times you can eat and whether to make exceptions for certain foods.

  1. Of course there are several protocols that are used relatively often. Below we list three popular forms of intermittent fasting. This will give you an idea of ​​what is possible.

  1. Fat Fasting is a form of IF where you only consume calories from fat in the part of the day that you 'fast'. In America, for example, there is a hype to replace your breakfast with bulletproof coffee. That is coffee with butter and coconut oil (or MCT oil) added.

  1. This form of IF is not very suitable if you mainly use the method to lose weight. With those fats you already get a lot of calories during your fast, with the result that you have less room for calories later in the day. In addition, the calories from pure fat do not really give you a satiated feeling, so that you quickly consume too much energy.

  1. Another option is to switch between different days. A good example of this is the 5-2 diet. In addition, you eat as usual for five days, and very little for two days. Most people don't fast completely for those two days, but keep their energy intake limited to a few hundred calories.

  1. This diet may be suitable if you want to eat all day on busy days, but still want to fast occasionally. Choose quiet days to limit your calories, and preferably not two days in a row!

  1. Then there is probably the most popular form of Intermittent Fasting, where you fast for part of each day. Most people don't eat anything for about 12 hours between dinner and the next breakfast anyway. With this form of intermittent fasting, you simply extend that time by a few hours.

  1. A frequently heard ratio is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. That means that you stop all meals of the day within an 8-hour frame. This is easiest to achieve by postponing your breakfast until later in the day. You don't eat anything around it (drinking is of course allowed, as long as it concerns drinks without calories).

Intermittent Fasting Eating Schedule

  1. What does such an Intermittent Fasting eating schedule look like, for example? We give you an example below for a day with 16 hours of fasting:

  1. As you can see, IF doesn't mean you should skip meals. Also, you really don't have to be eating non-stop during the 'eating period', depending on how you plan the meals! However, the time between your meals is of course shorter than with a 'normal' eating schedule.

Six small meals?

  1. But what about that well-known prescription of six small meals a day? Weren't they necessary to keep your metabolism going? That old myth keeps roaming around, while research shows little of it. Experiments keep showing that it hardly matters how you distribute your food throughout the day!

  1. Ultimately, it's about how many calories you take in, and which macronutrients they come from. Whether that is in six or two meals, is less important for your body. Intermittent Fasting certainly does not suddenly stop your metabolism.

Is intermittent fasting healthy for your body?

  1. With that information too, many people are a bit concerned about intermittent fasting. Because isn't it unhealthy not to eat anything? Of course you shouldn't starve yourself - and that's certainly not what IF is all about. It is important that you continue to get all the necessary nutrients in general.

  1. But if you make sure of that, there is nothing wrong with fasting. For example, your metabolism does not slow down enormously: that only happens after several days without (enough) food. In fact, it also provides some examples, which you can read more about below.

Intermittent Fasting also for women?

  1. You also come across stories of women who do not respond well to IF. In extreme cases, such a fasting program can disrupt the fertility cycle. This is the same effect that occurs, for example, in women suffering from anorexia nervosa.

  1. But that is very rare: the vast majority of women who start Intermittent Fasting have no problems with it. So there is no reason not to do it at all. It is wise not to make it too extreme (as is the case with everyone). And are you in doubt? Then always contact a doctor.

Advantages of intermittent fasting

  1. So no urgent reasons not to start on IF. But why exactly bother to change your eating schedule like that? Intermittent Fasting brings several benefits, five of which are listed below:

  1. When you eat carbohydrates, your body makes insulin. Your cells are thus able to absorb glucose from your blood. However, if you eat a lot of carbohydrates, you become less and less sensitive to that insulin. So you have to make more and more of it to get rid of those sugars - something that can eventually even lead to diabetes.

  1. When you do not eat for a longer period of time, the effect is reversed. Insulin resistance decreases and your body can process the carbohydrates better again. Intermittent Fasting therefore improves your insulin sensitivity.

  1. Intermittent fasting increases growth hormone production. This is beneficial, because the growth hormone plays an important role in the repair of cells and tissues (and thus also the production of muscle mass). In addition, the hormone also helps to obtain energy from fat reserves. So you burn fat more easily with it.

  1. Those who want to lose weight can also benefit greatly from intermittent fasting. Most people get less calories unnoticed. Because you eat meals closer together, you are less hungry and you run less risk of overeating.

  1. Note: this does not apply to everyone. There are also people who indicate that they suffer from binge eating after not having eaten for a long time. Keep this in mind when considering starting an intermittent fast.

  1. You have two types of cholesterol: healthy HDL cholesterol and unhealthy LDL cholesterol. Fasting mainly decreases LDL cholesterol. That not only means that your total amount of cholesterol decreases, but also that the ratio between the two types improves. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease!

  1. Finally, animal studies indicate that fasting can lead to less inflammation and oxidative stress. That may have major consequences. It is precisely those types of cell damage that are the cause of many aging diseases. More research is needed to draw firm conclusions from this.

Disadvantages of intermittent fasting

  1. Are there only advantages to Intermittent Fasting? Unfortunately not. Below we list the five disadvantages that IF-ers have to deal with the most:

  1. Not all athletes perform equally well at Intermittent Fasting. When you exercise actively, you simply need enough energy. Not eating for hours can backfire. This is again very personal. Some people report that they perform well when they train on an empty stomach. This is something you will have to experience for yourself.

  1. When you use medication, intermittent fasting can be very unhealthy. For example, if you are already using cholesterol-lowering drugs, you should always consult your doctor first. Intermittent fasting is also not suitable for people with heart problems or pregnant women. If in doubt, always consult a doctor first.

  1. We mentioned it before: not everyone manages to hold back sufficiently when you are allowed to eat. Do you expect to stuff yourself as soon as you are allowed? Then intermittent fasting may not be the best idea.

  1. Where IF often helps if you want to lose weight, it is more difficult to combine with gaining weight. Are you a strength athlete and do you want to build more muscle tissue? Then you will have to eat more calories. And if you only have a few hours a day to do that, it can be problematic!

  1. That's not to say it's impossible! However, it does require the necessary discipline to get all your calories in the short amount of time you eat. Don't feel like having to make that effort? Then IF is probably not the eating method for you during periods where you are trying to gain weight.

  1. Although there is a lot of interest in Intermittent Fasting, the amount of qualitative research is still disappointing. Many studies have been conducted on animals, either short or only. So we don't know much about the long-term effects yet! That is no reason not to do it, but you can take all the biggest claims about the beneficial effects with a grain!

  1. Do you have experience with Intermittent Fasting? We'd love to hear about it in a comment!

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