If poor eating habits, a desk job, and now working remotely — thanks to COVID — have you struggling with stuck weight, intermittent fasting could be a great option. When done right, intermittent fasting is one of the most effective tools for weight loss. It can also improve overall health and even slow aging.
But it’s not about starving yourself. It’s about balancing fasting with healthy eating. So, let’s walk through this together. Because to be successful, whether you’re fasting between meals or embarking on an extended fast, there are certain protocols you’ll need to follow.
What is fasting?
First and foremost, we need to understand that fasting is not the same as starvation. Unlike starvation — when you don’t know when or where your next meal is coming from — fasting is a way to control your eating for either health, spiritual, or other reasons.
But, thanks in large part to modern-day advertising, fasting has been largely discouraged. All-day-long eating, snacking, and the idea that you should never miss a meal have become the norm.
So, where has that gotten us?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And carrying extra weight can increase your risk for a number of health problems.
But holding on to extra weight is not as simple as eating too much and exercising too little. It’s also about maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Although a good diet and exercise plan is always important for health, each time you eat or snack, your body has to respond by releasing insulin in order to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. And if you’re constantly eating, snacking, and grazing, your body has to work overtime, constantly regulating blood sugar, and never getting a break.
So, now that you know how a culture of constant snacking is setting you up for failure, let’s look at some of the potential benefits of intermittent fasting.
5 Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting improves insulin levels
Insulin is the key hormone involved in both storing and using food for energy. When you eat carbs, insulin turns those carbs into energy. Insulin also moves glucose (sugar) into the cells of your body. Sounds good in theory, but here’s the kicker…
Grazing or continually snacking throughout the day raises insulin levels and forces the body to burn glucose—not fat—for energy.
The solution is intermittent fasting. If insulin levels are too high, your body stops burning fat. When insulin levels are lowered, your body can start to burn fat.
Intermittent fasting helps you release weight
If you’ve been thinking about starting a fast to help you release fat and improve your health, you’re on the right track. By now you’ve likely realized that intermittent fasting can greatly reduce spikes in insulin. And, since all foods raise insulin to some degree, fasting is a way to let your body's blood sugar regulation “rest” for an extended period of time.
So, why is this important? After hours of not eating during a fast — when insulin levels drop — your body basically exhausts its stored sugar and starts burning fat instead. That’s called metabolic switching.
Intermittent fasting works well with all diets
One of the biggest advantages of intermittent fasting is that it works with all diets. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, into a paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, or a raw food diet — fasting works.
Intermittent fasting helps reduce loose skin
Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy. So, what’s autophagy? Well, it’s when your body’s cells get rid of any unnecessary or damaged components. This helps maintain normal cell functioning. The process in itself helps keep skin elastic as you lose weight — preventing loose skin from forming.
How To Start Intermittent Fasting
There are a few ways to fast. But you’ll need to decide which method works best for you and your eating schedule. Below are a few common fasting methods.
16:8 fasting: This involves limiting your daily eating period to eight hours and then fasting for the remaining 16. For example, you could choose to skip breakfast and begin your eating period at 12 pm. Then, you’ll end your eating period at 8 pm and fast for the next 16 hours, starting the process over again the next day. This is the most common form of intermittent fasting because it can be tailored to your schedule and needs.
5:2 fasting: This involves eating a normal healthy diet for five days without counting calories. Then, on the other two days, you restrict your calories to 500 (for women) or 600 (for men). While some people like the freedom this method offers during the five “normal” days, being hyper-focused on calorie counting on the two “fasting” days can be overly restrictive and cause underlying food issues to creep up. So, if you’re interested in trying this method, do so with caution.
Overnight fasting: This option is great for beginners and those new to fasting. It simply involves stopping all eating after dinner in the evening, by 7 pm for example, and then fasting for the next 12 hours, ending your fast with breakfast at 7 am the next morning.
Extended fasting: This method of fasting involves completely avoiding all food for one or two 24-hour days per week. It is a more intense method of fasting. And while it does offer health benefits, it’s best not to dive right into this option for your first time.
NOTE: If you are pregnant, or have a history of eating disorders, or are a child, or teen under the age of 18, fasting is not for you. In addition, talk to your doctor before beginning any fasting method.
How To Break Your Fast
There’s a right way and wrong way to end your fast. Ending a fast doesn’t mean scarfing down a weeks’ worth of food. You’ll have to ease out of your fast gently, so as not to overwhelm your digestive system.
You want to break your fast with food or drinks that are nutrient-dense and easily digested. Look for foods high in antioxidants and electrolytes that help support cellular health.
A great, simple, and delicious way to break your fast is with a mug of Cacao Bliss. Not only is this unique chocolate blend healthier than dark chocolate, kale, and even blueberries, it also has a powerful blend of superfoods that rejuvenates every cell in your body. *
But there are more ways this blend supports your fast…
Cacao Bliss is a great way to get a natural boost in energy and also helps to curb cravings, both of which help support your intermittent fasting efforts. Plus, Cacao Bliss includes a number of ingredients that support overall health, such as… *
- Turmeric, to support joint health, inflammation, and immunity*
- MCT oil, the fatty acid that supports brain health, energy levels, and weight loss*
- Lucuma, an antioxidant that protects cells, and helps support blood sugar levels*
- Himalayan salt, which enhances the chocolate flavor and contains over 84 minerals and trace elements that help to balance your pH levels*
Not only is Cacao Bliss the perfect way to nourish your body after a fast, but it’s also an incredibly healthy snack to have on-hand anytime that chocolate craving hits.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.