In recent years intermittent fasting has grown in popularity and subsequent research data, but this is not a ew phenomena, it was the basis of our survival. Intermittent fasting is a regular eating plan which alternates between states of fasting and small windows of eating. Research shows it is a way to manage your health and prevent certain diseases.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting focusses on when you eat.
Intermittent fasting means you only eat during a specific time window over a prolong period. This could include certain number of hours each day, or certain days a week, and then fasting the rest of the time to allow your body to burn the stored fat.
Historically our bodies have evolved to go be able to perform optimally despite going for prolonged periods of time without food. Our historical ancestors were hunter gatherers and according to research had to spend days without eating because it took a lot time and energy to hunt and gather food. As a result our bodies have become adapted.
According to research even 50years ago it was easier to maintain a healthy weight – people ate smaller portions, spent more time out doors exercising or doing physical activities. There were no computers and video games and social media etc and fast food was not as abundant as it is today.
Our current lifestyle calls for a more extreme focus on taking care of our health. Nowadays we spend hours sitting or lying in front of the TV, Computer and social media with an abundance of snacks and fast foods. The continued consumption of large amounts of calories and insufficient physical work has resulted in a huge spike in obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other ilnesses. According to scientific studies intermittent fasting can help reverse a lot these ailments in people.
How does intermittent fasting work?
The key to intermittent fasting is choosing regular time window within which to eat and to fast.
For example, you may choose to eat only during an eight-hour window each day and fast for the rest of the day. Alternatively you may choose to eat only one meal a day over two days a week. There are many different ways to intermittent fast, and you can choose a plan that is suitable to your lifestyle and energy demands. The aim is to exhaust your bodies sugar stores and force it start burning stored fat for energy and function.
By stopping ourselves from eating three meals a day and snacking in between we are not providing our bodies with an ever ready supply of sugars, instead our body is then forced to generate energy by burning our stored fats and depleting those.
Different styles of Intermittent Fasting
Always speak to your doctor before starting an intermittent fasting plan. If you have been cleared it is best to start small, even with a smaller window of 12 hours fasting and eating within the remaining 12 hours.
After that you may choose the most common which is the 16/8 fasting: Fasting for 18hours a day and then eating during the 8 hour window. Many people find this pattern easy to fit into their busy lives and easier to stick to over a longer term.
Another common practice is what is referred to as the 5:2 diet. This involves regular eating for five days a week and then restricting yourself to only meal with a limit of 500-600 calorie.
Starting straight away on prolonged fasts over 24,36,and 72 hours may shock your body and send it into a famine mode – it will start storing fat for fear of starvation.
Find an intermittent plan that suits you and you are able to stick to for a long period of time. The research shows over time you will feel noticeably better.
What to eat while Intermittent fasting?
During the fasting phase of your intermittent fasting only water, black coffee and tea are recomended. The idea is to complete your bodies ready supply of calories.
During the eating period you are encouraged to eat normally, with a focus on enjoying good, wholesome and nutritious food and not feasting on fast food and junk. Most nutritionists promote the Mediterranean Diet as a good template of the types fo food we should be consuming to further assist our bodies. These include complex, unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains, leafy greens, healthy fats and lean protein.
Try to eat a meal with others. The experience adds satisfaction and supports good health as well because we only serve the best food to our friends and family.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting does more than burn fat. Research shows when we make our body switch it’s metabolic pattern it affects both the body and brain.
Results of several medical data show a range of health benefits associated with intermittent fating. These include a longer life, a leaner body and a sharper mind.
My changing our metabolic structure and forcing our body to utilise stored fat and go into constant fat burning mode we protect ourselves from a range of illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, even inflammatory bowel disease and many cancers.
While there are many noted benefits of intermittent fasting, these are of the ones research has revealed so far:
- Cognitive function. Studies have shown that intermittent fasting boosts working memory and verbal memory in adult humans.
- Cardiovascular health. Intermittent fasting improves blood pressure and resting heart rates amongst other heart-related measurements.
- Physical performance. Young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass and increased endurance.
- Obesity and Insulin disorder. In brief studies, obese adult humans lost weight through intermittent fasting.
- Tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.
Is it safe to intermittent fast?
Intermitting fasting works well for weight management, addressing chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol or arthritis. Yet, despite the wonderful benefits of intermittent fasting, unfortunately it’s not for everyone. Before starting any form of fasting it is essential to check with your doctor and get a through check up. Those who intermittent fasting isn’t safe for are:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.
For those who are able to intermittent fast, it can become part of their long term lifestyle change. Always refer to your doctor and keep them posted. If you suffer from nausea, headache, anxiety or heart palpitations then definitely see your doctor and stop fasting until given the all clear.