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The theory has been around for many years: you have to eat 5 meals a day so that your metabolism remains active, you burn calories and also arrive less hungry for your next meal. But this sentence, like many others, is simply untrue.
The fasting trend that has everyone talking, results in a very interesting concept called autophagy, a cellular process that is activated when we do not eat, and cleans out damaged cells in order to regenerate newer and healthier ones.
Eating 5 or more meals a day will not allow this autophagy process to be completed. Instead, by eating so often we aren’t allowing our digestion to be done correctly because it is constantly working. It is important to allow the digestive system to rest, so that the wonderful regeneration process can be activated. Eating too often can create heavy digestion, gas, bloating, inflammation of the digestive tract, excess bacteria … and symptoms of fatigue, skin problems, headaches, menstrual disorders …
The truth is that the fasting periods where we do not eat are understood today as helping with regeneration and anti-aging techniques … But, this is nothing new! Fasting is something totally natural for living beings: animals do not eat when they are sick, hibernate, or even when they change their habitat. And human beings have fasted for thousands of years in all civilizations, whether it was for health or religious reasons.
At least 4 hours
This is the minimum amount of time that has to pass between one meal and another in order for the digestion process to be completely finished, as confirmed by nutritionist Dr. María José Crispín, from the Menorca Clinic.
Only when we allow digestion to finish properly does the bowel cleansing process begin, which allows us to feel lighter, more energetic and lucid. Test it! Sometimes we confuse hunger with the need to eat, by believing that we need to eat in order to have strength and perform well, but it’s actually the opposite.
Benefits of fasting
- Increased longevity
- Lower probability of contracting different diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Type II Diabetes
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves rest
- Increases vitality and sports performance
- Improves the digestive system
My favorite fast
Setting spaced meal times is important. For example, having breakfast at 9 a.m., lunch at 1 p.m., and dinner at 8 a.m. is quite realistic and affordable for most people. We make sure we do a 13-hour mini fast overnight, eat at times when the sun is up and digestion is easier, and allow time between one digestion and another.
I sporadically recommend that you include a longer fast. For example, I sometimes skip breakfast and add a 17-hour fast, from when I eat dinner until I eat the next day. The possibilities are endless and, as the nutritionist emphasizes, we must always take into account the rhythms of life, schedules, energy expenditure, work … of each person in particular. “There are people who become anxious when they go without food for a long time. For them, fasting would not be recommended ”, he explains.
How to break the fast
María José Crispín ensures that the quality of what you eat is equal to or more important than the times in which we eat or stop eating. “In fact, it is useless to do fasts and try to eat at the correct times if then your diet is full of hyper caloric, processed foods, alcohol and sugars …”, emphasizes this nutritionist.
It seems that a frequent mistake in fasting is breaking them in this way, eating in excess and junk foods. After a period of fasting, the stomach is more receptive, so in that first intake, fresh fruit juices, light vegetables and easy to digest dishes such as these Chicken Skewers that I propose should prevail.
If you have doubts, it is always best to go to an expert.