Did you know that you fast everyday?!
You guessed it, during your sleep as an involuntary action.
When you sleep, your body's digestive function is at rest for at least seven hours. This is essential so your organs repair and function well the next morning. This is the premise behind fasting.
In some cultures fasting is routine. People fast on certain days or months of a year. Science tells that this cultural practice brings plenty of health benefits.
Research shows that fasting can help treat conditions like:
- High blood pressure
- Rheumatic diseases
- Chronic pain
Besides, holistic doctors use fasting as a therapeutic tool in treating diseases. For instance, Ayurveda (a popular type of holistic medicine) uses fasting to improve digestion, and for detoxification.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting and humans are inseparable. Our ancestors have gone through periods of famine. They often skipped food to cope with limited supply. A skipped meal or two helps feed everyone in the tribe and survive the harsh weather. Researchers now agree that the habit of skipping meals either intermittently or longer may be why our ancestors were healthier. Keep in mind they were also more physically active.
We can emulate this type of eating style by intermittent fasting. You can enjoy the same health benefits as in regular fasting.
Intermittent fasting restricts energy intake on 1–3 d/wk, and eating healthy foods freely on the non-restriction days.Tweet
Intermittent fasting is simple, you skip a meal on certain days in a week. For instance, you can eat between 6 am to 5 pm skipping dinner or eat between 11 am to 7 pm skipping breakfast.
Let's say you eat dinner at 6 pm…If you want to try an intermittent fast, you'd generally go about 16 hours without food including your time asleep at night, so your next meal would come at no earlier than Noon the next day.
You can drink liquids, tea, or coffee in the morning, as long as there are no calories added (no sugar, cream, etc). If you're still not hungry after 16 hours of fasting, you can always try to go longer without food until you have your first meal of that next day, but 16 hours is generally considered the minimum to be considered an intermittent fast.
Intermittent fasting can be done several days per week to reap the benefits, or even every single day if you find it enjoyable and feel great by doing it
What happens during Intermittent Fasting?
During intermittent fasting, your body does not have food (a ready fuel) for energy. So it takes the glucose reserves, which takes about 6 hours to use. As it exhausts this reserve, it next begins to break down fat for energy. So the 6-7 hour fasting window acts as a kicker to break down fat stores.
Here are some benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Enhanced digestion
- Improved immune health
- Weight loss
- Lower risk of diseases
- Better glucose uptake
The list goes on, yet weight loss and improved glucose use are the best effects. Since these 2 factors go hand in hand with other underlying heath issues, they're both critical to health.
Does it help with weight loss?
Fasting, in general can help you lose fat. It's not how I choose (feeling deprived is not for me) to stay trim but I have friends that swear but it, so it really comes down to personal preference.
One review found that intermittent fasting can cause about 3 – 8% reduction in body weight in about 3 – 24 weeks. Researchers say this is a significant loss of body weight.
Another study on overweight women found that intermittent fasting was effective in weight loss. Researchers also found that it helped improve insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. The results revealed that intermittent fasting was as effective as regular fasting.
A 2005 study subjected eighty healthy men to intermittent fasting. They fasted every second day for 24 for 15 days. Researchers observed that they showed better insulin sensitivity and glucose use. These two things lower the risk for type 2 diabetes as well as help maintain a healthy body weight.
Is Intermittent Fasting for Everyone?
Intermittent fasting is safe for most. But, if you fall into any of the categories below, you should exercise caution. It's best to talk to your doctor to find out if it is right for you.
- If you have low blood sugar levels
- People with special conditions
Pregnant or nursing mothers, anyone recovering from surgery should avoid fasting.
A Few more tips to keep in mind
- Choose wholesome healthy foods after your fast
- Avoid binge eating
- Include healthy fats
- Drink plenty of water
- If you take dietary supplements, take them with food.
- Intermittent fasting is not about calories, it is about when you eat
Your food choices are still what determine the benefits you'll get from intermittent fasting. It's important to choose healthy and not overeat. If you plan on trying it, choose to eat between 11 am to 7 pm. This way you can avoid low energy levels and sluggishness.
Am I saying that you should start a plan for intermittent fasting today? Not really. It's good to have the info. but it's not what I do. I typically eat every 2- 4 hours until bedtime. For me, fasting just isn't a sustainable lifestyle choice. I love eating too much! It could help some though and I like you to have all the info. to stay in control of your own decisions about your health.
Yours in Health,
P.S. Please share this with your loved ones and I always like to hear from you so leave me a comment below.