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What is intermittent fasting?Our guide to getting started

What is intermittent fasting

Slimming diets, there are a dime and all kinds. There are so many of them that you lose your Latin … How does this or that program work, which is the most effective, what are the advantages and risks? In this article we take a look at the new trend of the moment: intermittent fasting. This method seems to be very popular among sportsmen and athletes but also for those looking to lose weight and who consider it THE ultimate formula. What is intermittent fasting?How does intermittent fasting work? Is there a risk in following it?

We have therefore scrutinized this method: here are our tips and recommendations.

What is intermittent fasting?

As the name suggests, intermittent – that is, interrupted – fasting is a form of eating in which you alternate between periods of fasting and periods of normal food intake. Strictly speaking, this is not a diet but rather a diet plan. Here we do not tell you what to eat, but you have predefined schedules to respect.

There are different models. Here are the most popular:

  1. The 16/8 method: also known as the Leangains method. Here you can eat for 8 hours, then fast for 16 hours straight. Simply put, most of the fasting phase happens while you sleep and then is extended for a few hours after getting up. For example, you can skip breakfast, have your first meal at noon and continue to eat until 8 p.m.
  2. The 5: 2 diet: This is about consuming only 500-600 calories per day, two days per week. These two days do not have to be consecutive and the remaining five days you can eat whatever you want.
  3. Eat Stop Eat: this method consists of alternating the days of fasting and normal food intake. You eat normally for 24 hours, then you fast the next day. Repeat this process once or twice a week. Keep in mind that for all of these models, the consumption of non-calorie drinks (such as black coffee, unsweetened tea etc.) is allowed.


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The impact of intermittent fasting on your body

Intermittent fasting will not only restrict your calorie intake but also upset your body’s hormonal balance so that it can more easily draw on fat stores. The following changes are taking place:

intermittent fasting will improve your insulin sensitivity, especially when you exercise. This is especially important for overweight people, as low insulin levels in the blood lead to more efficient fat burning. The opposite of this is insulin resistance: studies have shown that too much body weight will interfere with the ability of insulin to lower blood sugar levels. Consequence: Larger amounts of insulin are released, which will stimulate fat storage.

The secretion of human growth hormone (HGH) is skyrocketing. This will increase protein synthesis and make fat available as a source of energy. You will simply burn fat faster and gain muscle mass. This is the reason why HGH is often used in large amounts as a doping technique in body builders.

But that’s not all ! According to the researchers, fasting also improves the functioning of autophagy: a mechanism in which damaged cells are destroyed and new ones are created, which promotes the process of regeneration.

Here are the main health benefits of fasting:

  • Decreases the production of insulin and the storage of fat and sugar in the body
  • Stimulates the destocking of fats
  • Better control of food sensations
  • Stimulates the secretion of growth hormone
  • Improves physical and intellectual performance and decreases recovery time
  • Promotes cell regeneration
  • Allows the cleansing of the organism and stimulates the autophagy or self-cleaning function of the organism by its own cells
  • Decreases cellular oxidation and premature aging of cells
  • Prevents overweight and certain associated pathologies: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc.

Intermittent fasting for weight loss

If you skip meals, you will create a calorie deficit and therefore inevitably lose weight, unless you compensate for your fasting phases with foods high in fat and sugar. In fact, this method of eating does not prevent you from eating any particular food. It’s up to you to decide. According to some studies, intermittent fasting (if done correctly) not only reduces the daily calorie intake but also prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes. The body also learns to better manage the foods consumed during the day. food intake phase.

A study also showed that the combination of the 16/8 method and a training of muscular development (exercises with the bodyweight or with additional weights) would allow to decrease the fat mass more effectively than with a training of bodybuilding alone.  However, there was no evidence of muscle growth in subjects participating in this study.

Please note: this kind of diet is not recommended for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Ask your doctor for advice before starting any diet.

The main mistakes to avoid for a successful intermittent fasting

Fasting to lose weight is not as easy as it sounds. This is because there are some very common mistakes that can ruin all your efforts and make intermittent fasting counterproductive.
Here is a list of the main mistakes to avoid for a successful fast.

Not drinking enough water

The elimination of metabolic wastes and toxins requires sufficient hydration. During intermittent fasting, this hydration must be even more important so that the body supports the fasting periods and continues to function optimally. When you fast, your thirst is often much less. It is therefore imperative to pay attention to this point and drink at least 2 liters of water per day, spreading the intake over the day.

Eat twice as much during times of food intake

When fasting, it can be difficult to maintain a balanced diet during periods of food intake. Indeed, it is very tempting to pounce on food, eat in larger quantities and turn to pleasure foods. Now, this is a big mistake. To reap the health benefits of fasting, the quality of the diet during periods of food intake is as important as the periods of fasting themselves. Thus, it will be necessary to promote meals rich in plants, whole grains, lean proteins and essential fatty acids.
Set goals that are too difficult to achieve

Fasting is a complicated exercise. To avoid missteps, it is recommended to take it gradually and to listen to your body before anything else. If this is your first time on a fast, try to set goals for yourself in stages. Start by moving your mealtime forward in the evening, move your breakfast time back a little in the morning, etc. In this way, you can slowly increase the fasting time without rushing your body.

Fasting to lose weight only

Intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle than a diet. Its purpose is not weight loss, although it does help. Summarizing fasting to that one goal can make it a lot more complicated. This is because you risk missing out on all the other benefits of fasting (physiological and psychological) and giving up more quickly. Also, it can be frustrating and guilty if a dietary gap or weight loss is deemed too slow.


How to combine fasting and exercise?

There are a few important things to consider when it comes to combining periods of fasting with exercise.

  • If you want to lose weight healthily, be careful not to overdo it and set up a moderate calorie deficit. Do not try to lose more than 0.5 to 1% of your weight per week.
  • Incorporate muscle building sessions and plenty of protein into your diet, around 25% or more of your total energy intake to help maintain muscle mass. 
  • And finally, try to do your workouts right before your biggest meal of the day. If you plan to combine intense training with the fasting phases, we recommend that you consult a nutritionist and / or a health professional beforehand.

Intermittent fasting is not recommended for everyone

If you are in good health, there is no contraindication to trying intermittent fasting. But, we repeat once again, for some people this type of diet is not recommended and you should consult your doctor before starting.

People with the following conditions should avoid intermittent fasting:

  • Diabetes and other metabolic disorders
  • Cardiovascular illnesses
  • Cancer

Intermittent fasting is not suitable for:

  • Children
  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women
  • People with a history of eating disorders
  • The elderly

The social aspect of intermittent fasting

Fasting can be very effective in losing weight. But have you really considered the consequences on your social life?

Imagine: you are invited to a birthday brunch next Sunday. The breakfast buffet is covered with delicious mueslis, fresh fruit, yoghurt, scrambled eggs, salmon… All your friends enthusiastically enjoy this tasty breakfast. And you ? You are sitting next to them, with just a glass of water in your hand… It is only 10 am, still two hours before you can have your first meal of the day since this evening, you are invited to dinner with friends. Rather frustrating, isn’t it? So try to plan your fasting phases intelligently so that you can continue to have a good time with your friends and family.

Intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone, but it can be a good method of reducing body fat. In general, this type of diet doesn’t really leave room for spontaneity or flexibility! If this parameter is important to you, you should opt for another type of diet like the IIFYM diet (if it fits your macros). It is a diet that does not focus on the number of calories and in which you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits in your nutritional plan and that you respect a proportional intake of the different macronutrients (proteins, fats). and carbohydrates).

What to do in case of hunger?

Many people who try intermittent fasting complain of intense hunger pangs, fatigue, exhaustion, but also terrible food cravings. It seems logical, given that you are skipping meals. But others also explain that this feeling of hunger disappears after the first critical phase (which lasts about two days). And if the feeling of hunger becomes really unbearable, it is recommended to soothe it with a cup of green tea or black coffee.


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Our 8 tips for a good start

Here are our recommendations if you want to try intermittent fasting:

  1. Do not overdo your portion sizes while you are eating.
  2. Make sure you eat a healthy and balanced diet. Eat foods rich in fiber to fill you up (fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains), with quality proteins (fish, soy, eggs, dairy products, legumes), and also fats (vegetable oils, nuts, seeds , lawyers).
  3. Drink lots of water or unsweetened tea. Use this calculator to determine your fluid needs.
  4. It may take time for your body to adjust to the fasting stages. Intermittent fasting takes patience. If you are really hungry, drink a cup of green tea or black coffee to calm your stomach.
  5. Strengthen your body regularly and eat a high protein diet to avoid losing muscle mass.
  6. No matter when you exercise, the biggest meal of the day should be eaten after your workout.
  7. Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. Make sure you get enough sleep.
  8. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone (see above). If you are not sure, see your doctor.

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A typical day of special fasting menu

To help you build a practical day menu, here is an example of a special fasting food plan. Fasting is the most well-known and widely used method of intermittent fasting. This method consists of alternating an 8-hour food intake period with a 16-hour fasting period. Here, the last meal of the day is therefore consumed before 8 p.m. and the first meal of the day is that of the next day at noon.

Lunch (at 12 noon)  Snack (at 4 p.m.)  Dinner (before 8 p.m.)
Raw salad with walnut oil   250 g of vegetable soup 
150 to 200 g of meat , or substitute  Tea or infusion 150 g of white fish or salmon, white cheese sauce and olive oil 
200 g green vegetables  Honey yogurt  200 g of cooked starches 
200 g of cooked whole starch  Handful of oilseeds  Homemade fruit compote 
30 g cheese Seasonal fruit 40g red berry muesli 2 squares of dark chocolate
Seasonal fruit    

To better match your habits, it is possible to postpone dinner time and therefore lunch time. The important thing is simply to keep a fasting period of 16 hours alternating with a food intake period of 8 hours.


Intermittent fasting is definitely not for everyone. While this method is still a good way to lose fat, keep in mind that reducing your daily calorie intake can be just as effective. As part of intermittent fasting, it is important to continue to eat balanced during the food intake phases and not to jump on burgers, pizzas or fries to compensate.

Intermittent fasting FAQ

How does the 16 hour fast work?

It consists of eating nothing for a period ranging from 4 pm to 8 pm, then eating your usual meals during the time interval when it is “allowed”. For example, for a conventional 16: 8 fast, you would be allowed to eat only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

How to practice intermittent fasting 168?

Fasting but only half is that it offers the leangains method of 16/8 intermittent fasting. This diet is divided into two stages over a period of 24 hours. Quite simply, you have an 8-hour window to feed yourself and the rest of the time, i.e. 16 hours, you fast.

What drink during intermittent fasting?

More precisely, intermittent fasting, that is to say the renunciation of all food at regular intervals for about 16 hours a day, during which only water, tea or coffee are allowed, without the addition of sugar and milk.

How to fast?

Therapeutic fasting has one goal: to help the body eliminate toxins and fight disease better, refraining from food for a limited period. To be young is to drink only water for a few days, in order to encourage detox and purification of the body.

How to do a sequential fast?

Sequential fasting is very easy to practice. Just stop eating around 8 p.m., after a very light dinner, and start eating again the next day around 12 or 1 p.m. During this time, it is advisable to hydrate well by drinking plenty of water or herbal teas without sugar.

How to fast once a week?

Examples: limit food intake to a period of 8 hours a day for 16 hours of fasting – fast 24 hours once a week – eat 5 days to your fill and very lightly the last two days of the week (<500 cal ).

Is it good to fast once a week?

Light broths are allowed. “Some people choose to fast for 24 hours once a week. It is also interesting but it can generate stress for the body in the long term. You have to choose your day well, rather a day of rest when you have no ‘physical activity “advises Olivia Charlet.

How to fast well to purify your body?

We practice fasting to cleanse our body, flush out accumulated toxins. For 24 to 48 hours, we stop eating but we continue to drink a lot to eliminate. We can thus put on a diet in the off-seasons (spring and autumn), without exceeding more than once every two months.

How often for intermittent fasting?

Once or twice, if your vitality allows it. If you are feeling well, you can fast for a week in the spring and a week in the fall, the two ideal seasons for this practice.

Is intermittent fasting good for the health?

Several studies have actually shown that fasting is, as expected, a way to lose weight. However, the rapid weight loss of the first five days (about 1 to 2 kilos per day) is above all linked to a loss of water and sodium as well as to the loss of muscle mass, and not fat.

Is it dangerous to fast?

Fasting is recommended to detoxify the body. As long as you stay hydrated, it is safe if it is only practiced one day from time to time. Beyond that, it can cause many health concerns. If you want to follow a long-lasting fast, advice, or even medical monitoring, is essential.

How to do a safe fast?

Fasting is about ceasing to eat solid foods. During a day of fasting, we content ourselves with drinking a lot, water cut from fruit juice, infusions possibly sweetened with honey, and vegetable broth.

Read also

The Benefits of 168 Intermittent Fasting: Our Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

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