Intermittent fasting is a powerful approach to eating that is becoming very popular because it has weight loss benefits without feeling hunger and has shown to reduce the risk of chronic illness like diabetes and heart disease. If done correctly, intermittent fasting can also lead to better sleep and increased energy and mental focus.
Research overwhelmingly supports intermittent fasting to the three meals a day and snacking in between.
Humans have fasted for centuries and many still follow strict practices that align with religious holidays and beliefs. The notion that not eating is bad for our metabolism or our health in general has no scientific data to support it.
Intermittent fasting is a type of scheduled eating plan where you adjust your normal daily eating to a shorter period of time without reducing calories.
Today, modern science has proven that fasting provides these benefits:
Helps promote insulin sensitivity.
Optimal insulin sensitivity is crucial for health, as insulin resistance or poor insulin sensitivity contributes to nearly all chronic disease
Normalizes ghrelin levels, also known as the “hunger hormone”
Increases the rate of HGH (human growth hormone) production, which has an important role in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process.
Lowers triglyceride levels
Helps suppress inflammation and fight free radical damage
Autophagy - (this is the biggest benefit imo) ""Autophagy is a process of cellular recycling that effectively removes old, damaged, and faulty equipment in our body, potentially stopping cancer, insulin resistance, diabetes, infections, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, inflammation, and even aging."
WOW. Who wouldn't want those benefits? With a list like that, I think you would have to be crazy NOT to try intermittent fasting, personally. You can read Dr. Fung's take on autophagy here, on his blog at Intensive Dietary Management. (His explanations are always my favorite.) Dr. Mercola discusses autophagy here, and there is also a short video with his article about the process.
Click here to view a video that explains the process and benefits of autophagy, even though it is a bit dry and science-y. The article available here explains many of the benefits of autophagy in straightfoward terms.
In addition, exercising in a fasted state can help counteract muscle aging and boost fat-burning.
>> Adding Exercise to Intermittent Fasting Can Provide Even More Benefits
Fasting the Way That's Right for You
There are many considerations to take note when fasting intermittently:
Typical fast time ranges from 14 to 18 hours - skip breakfast and eat lunch and dinner within a six to eight-hour time frame, and stop eating three hours before bed.
Fasting will helps the body adjust from burning glucose to burning fat. Eating in a six- to eight-hour window can take a few weeks to adjust to and should be done gradually. Once the body has shifts into fat burning mode, it will be easier to fast for as much as 18 hours and still feel satiated. Cravings for sugar will slowly dissipate and managing weight will be easier.
It is not advisable to practice IF if your daily diet is filled with processed foods. Addressing the quality of your diet is crucial before venturing into fasting. It's critical to avoid the wrong calories, including refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose and even some grains.
It’s super important to fill your diet with vegetable carbohydrates, healthy quality protein, and healthy fats.
IF can be so healthy if done correctly. ALWAYS pay close attention to your body and energy levels. Anyone hypoglycemic, diabetic, or pregnant (and/or breastfeeding) should avoid any type of calorie restriction or eating changes until your blood sugar or insulin levels are regulated.
** alway seek the help of a qualified practitioner before making dietary changes.
3 common myths about intermittent fasting
Here are three common myths and misconceptions about intermittent fasting:
1. Intermittent fasting causes muscle loss.
During a fast, our body burns fat and sugar for energy, but not our muscle tissue.
Studies actually show that intermittent fasting preserves muscle mass, while burning fat.
2. Intermittent fasting causes malnutrition.
Fasting can reduce the total amount of calories consumed mainly because hunger hormones are regulated, but not the nutrients absorbed by the body when you eat don’t decrease, in fact they can increase if nutrition is dialed in.
When I work with clients to implement IF into their lifestyle, it’s a very simple, easy to follow process that is gradual and does not evoke the emotions many experience when dieting. It becomes a lifestyle change that does not impact anyone else in your life and leaves you feeling empowered and in control of your health.
If you don’t have experience with flexible eating, I highly recommend experimenting and seeing how your body responds. The great part is if you get hungry and don’t want to continue fasting, you can eat. Anytime. The beauty is, IF can be personalized to fit your inidividual needs.
Please post any questions below - I’d love to hear from you!
Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2005.
The Obesity Code, by Jason Fung, MD (Greystone Books, 2016).