What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a practice of reducing the hours of caloric intake. You’re not reducing calories, you’re just shortening the time frame when you eat.
How long does the fast need to last?
A minimum of 12 hours is required for any real benefit, but more benefit will be observed with 14-16 hours. Most people won’t even notice a 12 hour fast if the only change is to avoid snacking after dinner. To slowly increase the length of the fast, push the first meal of the day off by 30 minutes. Work this into your daily routine until you don’t snack after dinner and you skip breakfast. Your body will get used to the routine and will actually have increased energy in the morning hours since you won’t be using energy to digest food, but have the energy available for brain functioning.
How often should I intermittent fast?
Best results will come from intermittent fasting at least three times per week. A daily practice is the highest recommendation, allowing for random variance during vacations or times of extra stress or lack of sleep; however, even incorporating three days per week is a good start.
Basics of where to start if you are new to intermittent fasting:
1) Don’t eat after dinner.
2) Increase fasting duration by 30 min per day until your goal is met.
3) Try fasting three days per week.
Can I drink water, coffee or tea?
Yes, drink water. Some experts recommend drinking coffee or tea (without cream or sugar) during the fasting period. Other experts prefer only water consumption during the fasting time frame. The most important thing to maintain your fasting state is to avoid intaking things that have calories. Caloric intake will break your body’s fasting state where you are getting all of the positive benefits of ketosis (breaking down fat stores) and autophagy (cleaning out old cells – which may help keep cancer at bay) and all of the other benefits discussed below. Ketosis and autophagy are physiologic states that are only turned on during fasting. Both of these states have health benefits that are very important to weight loss and cell regeneration.
Intermittent fasting improves your health in the following areas:
1) Weight loss
2) Hormone balancing (insulin regulation)
3) Resets gut imbalances
4) Improved sleep
The body burns fat stores more readily when practicing routine intermittent fasting. Ketosis is obtained through fasting, which is a state of fat burning. Besides contributing to weight loss, this is also a better source of energy for brain functioning. When you don’t eat first thing in the morning, your body doesn’t use energy to digest the food AND it uses energy derived from your body’s stores of fat producing overall greater energy and brain functioning. Ketones also provide more electrons to the neurons in your brain than glucose, which is the main energy source used by the brain when not fasting.
Weight loss is a side benefit to intermittent fasting. Achieving overall improved internal health and balance results in weight loss.
Hormone balancing (insulin regulation)
Intermittent fasting helps prevent insulin levels from spiking. (As with any specific health concern, consult your physician if you are diabetic before experimenting with Intermittent fasting). Every time you eat it spikes your insulin, so grazing regularly spikes your insulin – which may lead to diabetes. Insulin spikes also leads to weight gain. The later you eat at night, the higher your insulin will be in the morning. By not eating after dinner, you are already starting your day with reduced insulin levels.
Eating in a reduced time window has been shown to increase diversity of gut microbiome as well as resetting overall gut health.
Fat is wrapped around toxins, so when you fast and release the fat, the toxins are also released.
Intermittent fasting has a high return on investment!
The benefits of intermittent fasting have a very high return on investment. Intermittent fasting costs nothing. In fact, it costs less than eating breakfast. The returns are some of the greatest returns you will get with minor dietary change. Benefits of intermittent fasting will be noticeable even without making any other dietary adjustments such as reducing calories or cutting out processed and high sugar foods.
What should I eat or not eat right before starting my fast?
Healthy vegetables, healthy fats like avocado, and good organic grass fed proteins will help sustain you during your fast. Avoid fried foods and processed foods as well as simple carbohydrates.
Will reducing calories bring additional benefits?
While the basic principle of intermittent fasting is to reduce the window of caloric intake rather than focus on reducing calories, there is the potential to also reduce calories by skipping a meal. Health benefits are increased from reducing caloric intake in addition to the benefits from fasting states. Mark Mattson, professor of Neuroscience at John Hopkins University, discussed studies on laboratory rats whose life span has been increased by 20-30% by reducing caloric intake. Similar benefits to humans are being studied.
What about the dietary recommendation to eat every two hours?
Eating every two hours is another dietary lifestyle that is in conflict with intermittent fasting. This philosophy came out in the 1970s. The latest research indicates that eating every two hours is not optimal for the best health results and that intermittent fasting provides much greater health benefits.
How can I take my fast to the next level?
What about extended fasting? Extended fasting has additional health benefits. Please advise your medical provider before participating in an extended fast. Extended fasts may look like fasting from dinner to dinner rather than dinner to lunch once per month or once per week. A 2-3 day fast once per quarter may have additional health benefits in addition to regular intermittent fasting.
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