Intermittent fasting seems to be the new buzzword for the past couple years. Intermittent fasting is not a diet but rather in eating pattern. It’s making a conscious decision to stop eating at certain time and start eating at a certain time.
It basically goes against what nutrition information has been telling us for the past few decades!
That it is important to start off the day with a healthy breakfast or that you have to eat six small meals throughout the day. While there are certain benefits for each of these, new research points to multiple benefits of intermittent fasting.
Although make no mistake, the benefits of eating smaller more regular meals are important for those who tend to skip meals, and up with slightly low blood sugar and over eat at their subsequent meals and throughout the day taking in far more calories than necessary leading to weight gain. Believe it or not, for these people intermittent fasting would also be beneficial as it helps with appetite regulation in the long run.
In terms of weight loss, during the fasted state, your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy so therefore it is more likely to pull from fat that is stored rather than glucose in your bloodstream from the recently consumed meal or snack. In contrast when you were eating regularly your insulin levels rise and fall according to the meals you consume and when your storage form of glucose is full (glycogen), which doesn’t take much by the way, the excess glucose is ushered into fat stores.
Another benefit of fasting is that in a fasted state growth hormone is also increased. With the combination of increased growth hormone secretion and decreased insulin production you are priming your body for that loss and muscle growth- an optimal result for improved overall body composition.
There are multiple ways to do intermittent fasting. I find that an overnight fast and a few hour fast in the morning or in early evening is the very best and most doable for the majority of people.
This would look like a 14 hour fast for women and 16 hour fast for men overnight. For example, I try to stop eating by 6 PM and try not to eat anything except for black coffee or green tea until 8 AM the next day. I probably take off one or two days during the week although this has been super beneficial not only for myself but for a large percentage of my clients as well!
Let’s face it, nothing good comes into our body after dinner or anything that we actually need. After dinner (or whatever you want to call your last meal) eating is usually just excess calories and junk or sweet stuff!
You could also eat normally then fast one or two times during the week. The one or two days you choose to fast you would fast for 24 hours, eat your last meal in the evening and then do nothing again until the following day at that time-Like 5pm to 5pm, have a balanced meal and resume normal eating the next day.
An important thing to remember is if you have an eating disorder or blood sugar regulation issues such as diabetes or hypoglycemia etc. it would be wise to discuss this method with your doctor before making changes to your diet. If you are on medication to regulate blood sugar you may need to discuss with your doctor or health professional to determine if any form of I.F. would be a wise option for you.
For those of you who like to get into the technical reasons of why’s and how’s, I’ve attached an excerpt from Dr. Mercola's site below….
Dr. Mercola has a few great explanations of I.F. benefits:
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- “Fasting is historically commonplace as it has been a part of spiritual practice for millennia. But modern science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including the following:
- Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency: One of the primary mechanisms that makes intermittent fasting so beneficial for health is related to its impact on your insulin sensitivity.
- While sugar is a source of energy for your body, it also promotes insulin resistance when consumed in the amounts found in our modern processed junk food diets. Insulin resistance, in turn, is a primary driver of chronic disease—from heart disease to cancer.
Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease
- Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as “the hunger hormone”
- Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production: Research has shown fasting can raise HGH by as much as 1,300 percent in women, and 2,000 percent in men,2 which plays an important part in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process. HGH is also a fat-burning hormone, which helps explain why fasting is so effective for weight loss
- Lowering triglyceride levels and improving other biomarkers of disease
- Reducing oxidative stress: Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease
- There’s also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process.
- Intermittent fasting is by far the most effective way I know of to shed unwanted fat and eliminate your sugar cravings. Since most of us are carrying excess fat we just can’t seem to burn, this is a really important benefit. When sugar is not needed as a primary fuel, your body will also not crave it as much when your sugar stores run low.
- As mentioned above, the other mechanisms that makes fasting so effective for weight loss is the fact that it provokes the secretion of HGH—a fat-burning hormone that has many well-recognized “anti-aging” health and fitness benefits.
- Last but not least, intermittent fasting has also been identified as a potent ally for the prevention and perhaps even treatment of dementia. First, ketones are released as a byproduct of burning fat, and ketones (not glucose) are actually the preferred fuel for your brain.
- In addition to that, intermittent fasting boosts production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. It also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Research by Dr. Mark Mattson, a senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, suggests that alternate-day fasting (restricting your meal on fasting days to about 600 calories), can boost BDNF by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region.3
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