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What is intermittent fasting?
When many of us hear the word fasting, we often think of starving ourselves, but this is not true. In-fact, intermittent fasting has been practiced throughout all of human history, however until recently in many ways has been virtually forgotten. Thankfully, as science is beginning to catchup with ancient wisdom, many of us today are now re-discovering this age-old dietary intervention. So, what is it?
Fasting means to deliberately withhold the intake of food for health, spiritual or other reasons. Depending upon what type of fasting you’re doing, it can be done for any period of time – hours, days, weeks or even months at a time. In-fact, if approached properly, intermittent fasting can be done as normal part of everyday life.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
There are numerous benefits of intermittent fasting – most of which have been known since ancient times. These fasting periods were often called ‘purifications’, ‘detoxifications’ or ‘cleanses.’ People understood that periods of abstinence from food would clear their bodies’ systems of toxins and rejuvenate them to full health. Today, science now tells us that intermittent fasting can lead to:
*A reduction in body fat:
Intermittent fasting allows your body to use its stored energy/fat supplies. It is important to understand that there is nothing wrong with this – it’s simply how our bodies work. In-fact, it has been essential for our survival as a species, during times of famine and other threats. It’s also what cats, dogs, lions and bears do too.
However, with most of us eating every third hour as is often recommended, our bodies use the incoming food energy, instead of the stored fat, and so we become fat. To restore balance and to lose weight, we need to increase the amount of time spent burning food energy, and we can do this through intermittent fasting.
*Intermittent fasting is superior to dieting:
Why? Because diets very rarely get results, are complicated, limited in their availability, expensive, time consuming, inconvenient (especially if you often have to make seperate meals for others), hard to stick too and are often down right unenjoyable. Intermittent fasting on the other hand, actually works, is super simple, is available everywhere, is free, saves time, is easy to stick too, and is enjoyable because you’re not excluding any of the foods you love.
*Numerous other benefits:
sThe reality is that there are so many benefits to intermittent fasting – far too many to go through in detail here. But some others which are worth mentioning include;
*Lowered blood sugar/insulin levels
*Possible improved blood cholesterol profile
*Possible reversal of Type 2 Diabetes
*Possible increased energy
*Improved mental clarity and concentration
*Possible reduction in Alzheimer’s disease
*Healthier microbiome/gut health – (the key to a strong immune system)
*Possible reduction of inflammation (the root cause of all disease)
*Stimulation of grown hormone and activation of cellular cleansing by stimulating autophagy – both of which decrease the effects of aging
*Possible longer life
How to intermittently fast:
Shorter Fasts (<24hrs):
If your new to fasting, then its best to start with shorter fasts, which are generally done more frequently:
This involves fasting for 16 hours of the day and then eating all of your meals within an 8-hour time period, E.g. 11am to 7pm. You typically eat 2 or 3 meals within this period, often electing to either skip breakfast, or dinner instead. Generally, this approach is done daily or every second day.
This involves fasting for 20 hours of the day and then eating all of your meals within a 4-hour time period E.g. 2pm to 6pm. You typically eat either 1 larger meal, or 2 smaller meals within this period.
Longer Fasts (>24hours)
If you’ve fasted before, then you can also try some longer fasts such as:
This involves fasting for a full 24hour period – meaning that you only eat once daily (breakfast, lunch or dinner). E.g. if you eat lunch today, then you won’t eat anything until lunch again tomorrow. Generally, you would do this 2-3 times per week.
This involves 5 regular days of eating, followed by 2 fasting days in which you are only allowed to eat 500 calories on each day. These calories can be consumed at any time during the day – either through smaller meals, or as a single meal.
This involves fasting for an entire day, which usually equates to around 36 hours of fasting. E.g. Eat dinner on day 1, fast for all of day 2, and then eat breakfast on day 3. Doing so avoids the temptation to overeat dinner on day 2, which can boost weight loss.
This involves fasting for periods greater than 48 hours. This is not recommended for periods longer than 14 days, due to risks in nutritional deficiency. Only consider this under strict medical supervision.
Who should not fast?
A child under 18 – you need extra nutrients to grow.
Underweight (BMI < 18.5) or have an eating disorder like anorexia.
Pregnant – you need extra nutrients for your child.
Breastfeeding – you need extra nutrients for your child.
Or if you have any of the following conditions, you may be able to fast, but only if you have medical supervision:
*If you take prescription medication.
*If you have gout or high uric acid.
*If you have diabetes mellitus – both Type 1 and Type 2
*If you have any serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease or kidney disease.
Remember to play it safe and always speak to your doctor before beginning any intermittent fasting program.
So please, before you jump onto the next fad diet in order to get healthy, please give intermittent fasting a go. Not only will you save your time, energy and money, but it may also save your life.
So tell me, have you tried intermittent fasting, and if so, which method do you find the most beneficial?