If you already have a good healthy fitness plan, and are looking for a way to take it to the next level, then you may want to consider intermittent fasting. In essence, this type of diet focuses on ordering meals on a schedule, skipping breakfast.
Intermittent Fasting (IF), or intermittent fasting, is a type of diet based on the combination of periods of fasting with periods of food intake.
It makes sense that our genes are optimized for this type of feeding schedule. It takes about six to eight hours for the body to metabolize glycogen stores so that it can then begin to switch to burning fat. However, if you are replenishing glycogen by eating every 3-4 hours, it becomes much more difficult for your body to actually use its fat stores for fuel.
Recent research suggests that intermittent fasting may indeed be a key weight loss tool. It seems especially powerful when combined with exercise, meaning training while in a fasted state.
Exercise on an empty stomach has been shown to have a number of health and fitness benefits. It can even be a key to keeping your body biologically young. This is most easily accomplished if you exercise first thing in the morning, before breakfast.
Part of the explanation why exercising while fasting is beneficial is that this regimen supplements the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), along with its ability to burn fat. Your body’s fat-burning processes are controlled by the SNS, which is activated by exercise and lack of food. Another reason is that fasting can trigger a dramatic increase in human growth hormone (HGH), also known as the “sleep hormone.” Recent research has found an HGH rise of 1,300 percent in women and 2,000 percent in men while fasting!
The combination of fasting and exercise maximizes the impact of cellular factors and catalysts (cyclic AMP and AMP kinases), which force the breakdown of fat and glycogen to produce energy.
That is why training on an empty stomach will effectively force your body to burn fat. Exercise and fasting also produce acute oxidative stress, which keeps muscle mitochondria, neuro-motors, and fibers intact. (You may have heard of oxidative stress in a negative way before, and in fact, when it is chronic it can lead to disease. But acute oxidative stress, such as occurs due to brief intense exercise or periodic fasting, actually benefits your muscles)
Benefits for health and for bodybuilding
Since then, numerous studies support its countless health benefits:
- Regulation of blood levels of glucose, insulin, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, etc.
- Regulation of blood pressure. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Regeneration and care of the nervous system. Brain anti-aging effect.
- Promotes lipolysis (fat burning).
- Reduces oxidative stress.
- Reduces appetite and regulates hunger
In recent years, numerous ways of practicing FI have been proposed. Actually it is a very variable method that can be included in our day to day depending on our lifestyle, work rhythm, training, etc. Some examples can be:
- Fasting for 16-18 hours (counting the hours of sleep). Two meals a day.
- 24-hour fast. Only one meal a day.
- 24-hour fast alternated with 24-hour eating ad libitum (Alternative Day Fasting or ADF).
The IF that best suits our lifestyle is intermittent fasting within the same day (16-18 hours), although everyone can try what suits them best. It is quite likely that the health benefits of IF are due to hormesis, so each one has to assess what stress (also psychological) it produces in their body.