Intermittent Fasting 101


Intermittent Fasting 101

Today I want to talk to you about one of the most popular health and fitness trends of the moment: 


After so many years of hearing that we should eat five times a day, more health professionals bet on this practice. Intermittent fasting can help improve immunity, promote detoxification of the body, and improve mood and mental agility. 


This type of fasting consists of not eating solid food between 16 and 32 hours a few times a week on a scheduled basis, returning to a regular diet, preferably based on foods low in sugar and fats.


To achieve the benefits, the most common strategy to start this fast is to go without eating for 14 or 16 hours, only drinking liquids such as water, tea, and coffee without sugar. Still, this lifestyle is only advised for healthy people. 


Even then, the consent and support of a doctor, nurse, or health professional who is knowledgeable about this type of fasting are required to ensure that it is done well and is suitable for your health.

How to Do It

There are different ways to achieve this type of deprivation, although there is a period of food restriction and a period when you can eat in all of them. 

Usually, if you have never fasted, you may be recommended by your doctor or nutritionist to do intermittent fasting once a week for a maximum of 16 hours. 

Still, the period without eating can be increased gradually. You can start by doing 12 hours, and as you adapt, you can increase the fasting period.


Before starting the fast, it is recommended to have a low-carbohydrate meal so that you can stay hungry during the fast. For the first 4 hours, the body uses the energy provided by the last meal. 

After this period, the body begins a process of autophagy, in which the source of energy is supplied by the body's cells containing glucose, which favors fat burning.


Intermittent fasting can vary according to the period of fasting and the number of times a week it is performed, the primary forms being:

  • 16-hour fasting consists of going between 14 and 16 hours without eating, including the sleep period, and eating for the remaining 8 hours of the day, for instance, having dinner at 9 pm and eating again at 1 o'clock the next day.
  •   24-hour fasting is done for one whole day, 2 or 3 times a week.
  • Fasting for 36 hours, consists of 1 whole day and half of the other day without eating. For example, eat at 9 pm, spend the next day without eating, and eat again at 9 am the next day. This type should be done by people who are more accustomed to fasting and under medical supervision.
  • Eating five days and restricting two days, which means eating for five days of the week usually, and on two days reducing the number of calories to about 500. 

During the fasting period, water, teas, and coffee are allowed without sugar or sweeteners. It is common in the first days to feel very hungry and, in the following days, to get used to it. 

What to Eat After Fasting? 

After a period without eating, it is recommended to eat easily digestible foods with a low glycemic index, avoiding excess fats or sugars. This way, it is possible to ensure the results of intermittent fasting.

Recommended Foods

After fasting, it is essential to have a meal with a low glycemic index to ensure good digestive capacity and well-being, which may include:

  • ·         Mushrooms
  • ·         Sweet potatoes
  • ·         Zucchini
  • ·         Quinoa
  • ·         Chicken breast
  • ·         Sardines or canned tuna
  • ·         Broccoli
  • ·         Spinach
  • ·         Tomato
  • ·         Cabbage
  • ·         Cauliflower
  • ·         Bone soup

After fasting, some fruits that can also be eaten and the meal are apples, strawberry, raspberry and blueberry. The longer you go without eating, the less you should eat, especially at the first meal. Check out other foods with a low glycemic index that can be included in the post-fasting diet.

Foods Not Recommended

Fried foods or foods prepared with a lot of fat, such as French fries, drumsticks, white sauce or ice cream, filled cookies, or frozen food, such as lasagna, should be avoided.

To lose weight with intermittent fasting, it is also essential to practice a physical activity, such as walking or even a gym workout, never on an empty stomach, and preferably guided by a physical education professional.

Main Benefits

The main benefits of intermittent fasting are:

Regulates cholesterol and triglyceride levels: The diet taken before and after fasting is low in sugar and fat and favoring the elimination of excess fat that may be accumulated in the body, helping to improve cholesterol levels.


Accelerates the metabolism: Contrary to the belief that fasting can slow down the metabolism, this is only true in very long fasts, such as over 48 hours, but in the controlled and short ones, the metabolism is accelerated and favors fat burning.


It regulates hormones, such as insulin, noradrenaline, and growth hormone: it helps to balance hormones in the body that are associated with weight loss or weight gain, such as, for example, decreased insulin and increased noradrenaline and growth hormone.

Does not promote flabbiness: This diet does not decrease muscle mass as in other diets that make a significant decrease in calories and also helps to increase muscle due to the production of growth hormone.

Eliminates defective cells from the body: since the body becomes more active to eliminate altered substances and cells, which could cause diseases, such as cancer, for example.


It has anti-aging action: it stimulates the body to live longer, avoids diseases, and makes the body's organs and tissues live longer.


Besides this, by following this diet, people can feel their brain alert and active due to hormonal regulation and have a sense of well-being.

When It Is Not Indicated

This habit should be contraindicated in any disease situation, especially in cases of anemia, hypertension, low blood pressure, or kidney failure, or who need to use controlled medication daily.

Thus, intermittent fasting is not indicated for people with a history of anorexia or bulimia, diabetes, small children, underweight or low blood pressure, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.


However, even apparently healthy people should consult with their general practitioner to assess their body's condition and have tests, such as blood glucose tests, before starting this type of diet. 

What Are the Side Effects?

The main side effect of intermittent fasting is starvation. It may also cause headaches, fatigue, irritability, and physical and mental fatigue. 

These effects are usually temporary as it takes a couple of days for the body to adjust to the new eating pattern.

Can I Take Anything While Fasting?

Yes, you can drink all the water, tea, and coffee (without sugar or artificial sweeteners) you want while you are fasting. 

If you find it difficult not to sweeten your coffee or tea, do so with a bit of Stevia.

Can I Exercise While Fasting?

It depends. If you are fasting for a long time (24 hours or more), it is better not to do so. That said, exercising on an empty stomach is usually relatively safe and even beneficial. The important thing is to know how to listen to your body. 


If you begin to feel weak or dizzy while fasting, it is best to stop, hydrate, eat something, and find another time to exercise.


How Should I Break My Fast?

There are no restrictions. However, I recommend doing so with a healthy, balanced meal. 


Remember that you have not eaten for several hours, and the best thing you can do is give your body all the nutrients, vitamins , and minerals it needs to keep functioning correctly. It will thank you!


This article was originally published at helthyfit

Adam Hari

This is my profile, I seek to provide helpful content on several areas, especially health and fitness.

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