The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. Many practitioners swear by the amazing benefits and use it as a tool in their health practice with clients. There are studies to suggest that fasting may help in delaying or even preventing certain diseases.
Intermittent fasting is described by a eating window followed by a fasting window. You can adjust the hours of your fasting and eating windows to whatever you feel comfortable with and whatever fits into your schedule.
The most common versions of IF are the 8 hour eating window followed by a 16 hour fast. For this version you can have your first meal at 10am and your last meal at 6pm.
For those who want to be a little more hardcore, they will limit their eating window to 6 hours where their fist meal may be at 12pm and their last meal at 6pm.
With any dietary experiment it is important to listen to your body and understand the potential side effects. If it doesn’t work for you do not push yourself to continue with it.
Women tend to do better with a 8 hour eating window and a 16 hour fasting window as their hormones are different to men and can be more susceptible to the stress hormones that may be released during fasting mode.
With that being said… here are my favourite health benefits when it comes to fasting!
The amount of energy that our body puts into digesting food is fascinating. You may notice that after a big meal you become slightly lethargic. This is because our body requires so much energy to digest food that our other organs have to take a back seat. It may be a couple hours before you feel that you have enough energy to go about your daily tasks.
When the body is in fasting mode our energy is more evenly dispersed throughout our body and into our other organs.
Those who intermittent fast regularly note that they have more mental clarity when their body is in a fasting state. It can be useful to schedule in your fasting time when you need a lot of mental acuity to be your most productive.
Try having your first meal of the day 15 minutes later than you normally do. Each week push back your breakfast another 15 minutes. This is a good experiment to see how you feel in the morning after a longer fasting window.
Rehydrate! During sleep we lose a lot of water in the body. Make sure you are rehydrating in the morning. Try working your way up to 32 ounces of water before your first meal of the day. This will also help detoxify your body and wake up your digestive tract.
Allows time for healing
Since digestion takes up so much of our body’s energy, the rest of our body systems don’t get the chance to detoxify and repair. For those people who constantly snack throughout the day, they aren’t giving their liver, brain, skin, digestive organs, bladder, and heart the attention they deserve. Our organs are constantly repairing and detoxing. However, if our digestive tract is constantly being active then how can our other organs get the chance to heal properly?
For an experiment, try adding in more fat to your meals. This way you will stay full longer and it may lessen your desire for snacking due to blood sugar dips. This is also a great way to give your digestive tract a break in-between meals.
You may find yourself eating less when intermittent fasting. This is due to the shortened eating window. For example, if you adjust your eating window from 12 pm to 6pm you will most likely only eat two larger meals. If you are prioritizing whole foods and good quality fats when making your meals, you will stay fuller longer and may not eat as many calories as you would if you allowed yourself to eat from 7am to 8pm.
During your fasting period, your body may start to use its stored fuel (aka stored body fat) for energy.
Ensure that you are still eating enough food. The goal is NOT to calorie restrict although you may find yourself eating less calories overall. The main goal is to start putting more focus on high quality foods loaded with nutrients. Healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds, butter/ghee, and fatty cuts of grass fed beef are high in nutrients and will keep you satiated for a long time. These foods are great to include into your meals and a great strategy to keep you comfortably full until your next meal.
To boost your body into fat burning mode, try doing some form of movement before your first meal of the day. Keep in mind that you are coming to the end of your fast and your blood sugar may be low, especially when you are new to fasting. Do not overdo any exercise. Listen to your body and start off slow and easy. A 30 minute walk, yoga, pilates, and rebounder workouts are great to do during your fasting period and can further assist your body into detoxing.