For many dieters, the idea of fasting is tempting, but the thought of going days without food is too overwhelming. No one wants to suffer the loss of energy that comes with going on a fast – even if it does eventually make you feel better in the long run.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is gaining ground as one of the most popular ways to lose weight, gain health and live longer right now. But this isn’t a fad that’s new – this is something people have done for many years.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is when you develop an eating pattern throughout your day. For part of the time, you’re living on water, coffee or tea. The other time, you’re eating healthy, nutritious foods. This is a subject that has interested me for many years, because I have done this naturally for most of my life.
I have kept food journals, in an attempt to keep notes on what foods felt best for me at certain times. It didn’t take long for me to realize that along with being a ‘seasonal’ eater (ie: naturally gravitating toward foods that were grown each particular season), I was an intermittent faster.
Though I didn’t realize this ‘practice’ actually had a term … all I knew was that sometimes my body required mainly fluids, and a break from the work that it took to break down large meals. Warmer seasons are much easier to accomplish this in. Some serious fasters count all calories as off-limits, so that would mean you exist on water only – no coffee, tea or other low calorie drinks. It’s up to you how you want to incorporate it into your world.
There are also variations of the fasting where you rotate hours or days where calories aren’t forbidden, but limited – versus how they’re unrestricted on the days when you’re not fasting. So for example, on a “fasting” day, you might restrict your caloric intake by an extreme amount, eating just 500 calories a day, whereas on a non fasting day, you eat 2,500 or so.
There are different ways to adhere to an intermittent fasting routine. Some people fast for 8 hours and then eat regularly for 16 hours. Others alternate days – one day of fasting, one day of not. You can do it any way you like – 10 hours of fasting and 14 hours of eating. Whatever you feel comfortable with.
You can start out easy and the increase the amount of hours you spend fasting until you get the hang of it and know how your body will react. Some dieters count the sleep phase as part of the fasting period, so that you either go to bed while fasting or wake up fasting, eating your calories during the main working hours.
What Are the Benefits to Intermittent Fasting?
Aside from the weight loss benefits, because you’re ultimately restricting a certain number of calories, you also gain other benefits when adopting an intermittent fasting regimen.
Some studies show that it might contribute to your longevity. Lab animals have shown that fasting does indeed contribute to a longer life. It wasn’t the same for all of the lab rats, though.
- Male and female rats have different results depending on how frequently they fast – males fasting on a 24-hour rotation and females fasting once every three days.
- Your body actually learns how to better use the calories and nutrition that you give it when you start fasting periodically on a schedule. It regulates your fat storage and insulin usage correctly. You’ll enjoy fasting if you’re busy and always on the go because every dieter knows how hard it is to shop for, prepare and cook healthy foods – and fasting eliminates that portion of your day.
- It can also save you money! Fasting cuts your grocery bill because you’re consuming less food. Dieters typically have to spend much more because they’re suddenly buying fresh fruits and vegetables and lean cuts of meat rather than cheap, processed foods. And of course – reduction in food intake is in every way better for environmental sustainability.
- Some researchers say that intermittent fasting promotes HGH – Human Growth Hormone – production. This helps stave off the aging process and allows you to live longer and healthier. I find that when I am fasting, my skin has a much more obvious glow, my eyes are brighter, and my hair has more life to it. Quite enjoyable!
- Some studies are showing that it helps delay or improve symptoms of Alzheimer’s too – apparently aiding in the brain’s capacity to store and retrieve memories. When we take a break from ‘filling up’, we are simply by default ‘creating space’ in other areas of our body for energy to move and come back to life.
- You’re going to see your triglycerides and bad (LDL) cholesterol improve, your blood pressure achieve a better ‘normal’ state, and the inflammation in your body begin to decrease. Inflammation in the body has been noted in recent years as being quite the culprit in a large number of illnesses. I find that fasting intermittently helps to calm my entire system down.
- Your cellular repair will be heightened and fat will burn at a rate you haven’t seen before. This is huge. When you give your system a break from having to rush toward breaking food energy down for utilization, you are giving your system a chance to repair at the cellular level and release what it no longer needs. Even your heart will function better because fasting like this provides cardiovascular benefits.
I am going to be sharing a few posts on Intermittent Fasting over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more!