what is intermittent fasting?

No, fasting differs from starvation in one crucial aspect: control. Starvation is the involuntary lack of food for a long period of time and that can lead to severe suffering or even death.  It is not intentional or controlled.

To fast, on the other hand, is to voluntarily postpone the intake of food for religious, health or other reasons, in people who do not have a lower weight than normal and therefore have enough fat stored to live from it.

You have easy access to food, but you decide not to eat. The fast can be of any duration, from a few hours to days or - with medical supervision - even weeks. It is possible to start a fast at any time, and you can also leave it whenever you want. You can start or end a fast for any reason or no reason.

It does not have a standard duration, since it is simply not eating. At any time you do not eat, you are fasting. For example, you can fast between dinner and breakfast the next day, an interval of approximately 12-14 hours. In this sense, fasting can be considered part of everyday life.

It is perhaps the oldest and most powerful intervention imaginable.

Intermittent fasting is not something strange or peculiar, but part of everyday life. It is perhaps the oldest and most effective nutritional treatment imaginable. But for some reason we have forgotten its formidable effectiveness and ignored its therapeutic possibilities.

Learning to fast correctly gives us the option of putting it into practice or not.

How to do intermittent fasting?

Basically, fasting allows the body to use stored energy; for example, burning excess body fat.

It is important to know that this is normal and that people have evolved to be able to fast without suffering harmful health effects. Body fat is only stored food energy. If you don't eat, the body will simply "eat" its own fat for energy.

Life is a matter of balance. The good and bad; The ying and the yang. The same can be said about eating and fasting. Fasting is nothing but the opposite side of eating. If you are not eating, you are fasting. It works like this:

When eating, more food energy is ingested than we can use immediately. Some of this energy has to be stored for later use. Insulin is the main hormone involved in the storage of food energy.

Insulin increases when eating, this helps store excess energy in two different ways. Sugars can bind in long chains, called glycogen, which are then stored in the liver. However, storage space is limited, and once it is full, the liver begins to convert excess glucose into fat. This process is called de novo lipogenesis (which literally means "create fat again").

Some of the newly created fat is stored in the liver, but most of it moves to other fat stores in the body. Although this is a more complex process, the amount of fat that can be created has no limit. So there are two complementary food energy storage systems in the body. One is very easy to access, but it has a limited storage capacity (glycogen), and the other the most difficult to access, but it has an unlimited storage capacity (body fat).

The process works in reverse when we do not eat (fasting). The insulin level drops, signaling the body to start burning the stored energy, since it no longer receives through food. Blood glucose drops and the body has to extract glucose from the tank to burn it as energy.

Glycogen is the easiest access energy source. It breaks down to glucose molecules to provide energy to other cells. In this way enough energy can be supplied to the body for 24-36 hours. Then, the body begins to break down fat to use as energy.

So the body can only be in two states: in absorption (high insulin) and fasting (low insulin). Either we are storing food energy or we are burning it. It's one thing or another. If there is a balance between eating and fasting, there is no net weight gain.

If we start eating since we get up and do not stop until we go to sleep, we spend most of the time in the state of absorption. Over time, we will gain weight. We have not left any time for the body to burn food energy.

To restore balance or lose weight, we just need to increase the interval in which we burn food energy. This is fasting.

Basically, fasting allows the body to use stored energy. After all, that's what it is for. What you have to understand is that it has nothing wrong: this is how the body is designed. It's what dogs, cats, lions and bears do, and also what we humans do.

If you eat constantly, as is often recommended, the body will simply use the energy of the food that enters and will not burn the body fat, it will only store it.

The body keeps it for when there is nothing to eat.

If this happens it is because you lack balance. You lack intermittent fasting.

Benefits of intermittent fasting

The most obvious benefit of fasting is weight loss. However, it has multiple benefits, many of which were well known in ancient times.

Fasting periods were often referred to as "cleanings," "detoxification," or "purification," but the idea is the same: refrain from food for a certain period of time for health reasons. People thought that this period of food withdrawal would cleanse the body's systems of toxins and rejuvenate them. And they were more right than they thought.

Some of the known physical benefits of fasting are:

Weight loss and body fat
Increase in fat burning
Decrease in insulin and blood sugar levels
Possible correction of type 2 diabetes
Possible improvement of lucidity and concentration (link in English)
Possible increase in energy
Possible increase in growth hormone, at least in the short term
Possible decrease in blood cholesterol
Possible prevention of Alzheimer's disease
Possible lengthening of life
Possible activation of cell cleansing by stimulating autophagy
Possible reduction of inflammation

Fasting offers many unique advantages that classic diets do not have.

While diets complicate life, fasting simplifies it; While diets are expensive, fasting is free; while diets take time, fasting saves you; While diets are limited, fasting can be done anywhere. And, as we discussed earlier, fasting is a method that can be very powerful in reducing insulin and body weight.