Intermittent fasting, including starvation for 16 consecutive hours, is regularly recommended for weight loss. On the TikTok social network, the hashtag #jeuneintermttent has more than 92 million views.
The book “How to Fast” states that fasting releases natural healing forces as well as being treatment and anti-aging. Dr. Èvelyne Bourdua-Roy, a co-author of the book and a certified family physician in obesity medicine, answered our questions.
How to start intermittent fasting? Is it effective for weight loss? What are the effects on the body? Depriving your body of food for a period of time is becoming more democratic on social media. Some apply it as part of a “detox cure”, others to lose weight or as a spiritual experience.
According to Dr. Èvelyne Bourdua-Roy, co-author of “How to Fast,” published by Thierry Souccar, fasting supports good metabolic health.
From Montreal, the founder of Clinique Reversa, a non-profit clinic for the reversal of chronic diseases related to the fasting and low-carbohydrate lifestyle, answered questions from ETX Studio.
Are there different forms of intermittent fasting?
You need to start by distinguishing fasting, including intermittent fasting, from a restricted eating window. Most people who talk about intermittent fasting talk about skipping breakfast and eating two meals within a window of about 8 hours or less.
For example, we eat at 2:00 p.m. and have dinner at 8:00 p.m. We don’t eat anything until 2 pm the next day. The window to eat is between 2 pm and 8 pm, and the window to not eat or fast is between 8 pm (after the last bite of dinner) and 2 pm the next day. This is called a “restricted eating window” or TRE (time-restricted eating), but people often refer to it as “intermittent fasting.”
This is different from true fasting, which is a hormonal metabolic state in which blood sugar levels are low, blood insulin levels are low, and liver sugar (glycogen) stores are empty or nearly empty . At this time, the body performs a kind of seesaw, and various changes in “mechanics” occur. The time of this change varies from one individual to another, but on average it is 18 to 36 hours.
Whether we’re talking about a restricted eating window (which many people call intermittent fasting) or really talking about a physiological state of fasting, there may be some interesting benefits for metabolic health. For example, fasting lowers blood sugar (blood sugar) and insulin (blood insulin). When practiced regularly, it can help reverse insulin resistance and all of its accompanying chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and idiopathic high blood pressure.
How many hours a day should you fast in a day to get the benefits of intermittent fasting?
To figure out how many hours to fast per day or per week, you must first have an idea of your current insulin resistance or metabolic health, determine your goals, and establish what you are capable of and interested in doing. You also have to take into account your body mass index (people with very little body fat should fast less and less often than people with a higher than normal index, for example), the medications you are taking (there are contraindications or medications that will require close monitoring and possible adjustments) and your current general health status (fasting during pneumonia with antibiotics is not recommended, for example).
There is no universal recipe, and that’s the good thing. Finding your own fasting pattern and practicing it regularly allows you to reap the benefits of fasting and maintain it over time.
Is intermittent fasting effective for weight loss?
It can be, but it depends on the people. We see great interindividual variability in our patients and participants. There are several reasons why fasting can help with weight loss: the metabolic shift that promotes a physiological state of catabolism and lipolysis (burning of body fat stores), the rebalancing of hunger and satiety hormones after fasting, better insulin sensitivity (insulin is the master fat storage hormone, so the more you secrete it because you’re resistant, the easier it is to store fat and harder to burn fat), reduced calorie intake, etc.
Fasting, unlike low-calorie diets, does not lower your basal metabolic rate. It even causes it to increase slightly during the duration of the fast. By the way, we explore various misconceptions or myths about fasting in “How to Fast,” along with the relevant science.
However, if fasting is practiced by a person who has an eating disorder or food addiction and loses control of their diet after their fast is over, it will not be effective for weight loss and will be detrimental to that person’s mental health. . . Fasting is then not indicated or at least not if it is of long duration.
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