Intermittent fasting: benefits and contraindications of the diet

Intermittent fasting: benefits and contraindications of the diet

Publication date: 11-09-2021

Updated on: 14-02-2023

Topic: Nutrition

Estimated reading time: 1 min

One lean day per week and a few simple rules to regain well-being

An intermittent fasting proposed by Dr. Stefano Erzegovesi, psychiatrist, nutritionist and Chief of the Eating Disorders Center of the San Raffaele Research Hospital, in his book "Fasting for all - One day a week is enough for a healthy body and a clear mind", is a caloric restriction method that involves one day of lean per week that can help you to lose weight, adjust your lifestyle and learn to listen to your body's signals for greater self-awareness.

Where the idea of intermittent fasting was born

Fasting is a very ancient, primordial practice: just think of its use in religions and in history. It is a source of self-control that allows greater clarity of mind and a state of rest for the body.

"The idea is to exploit the potential of fasting to develop a valid method for all those who find it difficult to follow and complete a diet or simply wish to change their eating habits for the benefit of a healthier lifestyle," explains Dr. Erzegovesi.

What is the method of intermittent fasting

This method involves one day of semi-fasting per week and six days of a healthy plant-based Mediterranean diet, associated with a conscious and active lifestyle that includes a good dose of physical activity, relationships with others and a few minutes a day to devote to listening to yourself without using a mobile phone or tablet.

During the lean day pay attention to the quantity and quality of the food ingested, limiting yourself to the consumption of:

  • seasonal vegetables;
  • high quality vegetable fats (for example extra virgin olive oil and dried fruit);
  • broths;
  • fermented food rich in probiotics;
  • at least 1,5 liters of liquids.

“At the metabolic level, if our cells are left with less food, a reaction occurs to satisfy energy needs: our body adapts to fasting and equips itself to produce energy by drawing on cellular reserves. Basically, the body strives to consume what it has, setting in motion a series of mechanisms at the cellular level that eliminate accumulated waste materials, engaging in what we can define spring cleaning,” explains Dr. Erzegovesi.

Even more important than the lean day are the other six days: the purpose of this intermittent fasting is not just weight loss, but the acquisition of the right habits that lead us to love healthy nutrition every day of our life, without it being perceived as a temporary parenthesis or even as a sacrifice.

Fasting must, in fact, act as a stimulus to sharpen our ability to listen to ourselves and to distinguish true hunger from that triggered by factors connected to the emotional sphere, to learn to appreciate vegetables, not only for their properties but also because they can prove to be tasty to the point of wanting it even in the rest of the week.

For whom is intermittent fasting indicated

The intermittent fasting is a full-fledged medical act and only a healthy adult can safely follow this eating style; it is however necessary that, before starting, you inform your doctor, especially in the case of pre-existing disorders, such as hypertension, anemia or diabetes. It is important to avoid "do it yourself" and always have a specialist as a reference point.

The side effects that can be encountered are strictly related to the consequences of ketosis:

  • headache or dizziness;
  • a mild feeling of nausea;
  • sense of weakness.

Discomfort that can be overcome by drinking a glass or two of liquids.

More attention should be paid by those who, for example, regularly take medicines. In this case it is necessary that the situation is examined by the doctor and that what to do with him is discussed.

For who it is not suitable

The intermittent fasting is to be avoided for children and teenagers, because they are still in full growth phase, and pregnant women who must avoid any stressful situations.

It can prove to be a real enemy for those who suffer from eating disorders and do not have a specialist behind them to help them.

In any case, fasting should never be taken lightly. In case of general weakness or other disturbing symptoms, it must necessarily end since its continuation can lead to forms of malnutrition and serious consequences on the state of health deriving from it.

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