Intermittent Fasting - What's All The Hype?
You may or may not be aware of something called intermittent fasting (IF). It’s done the rounds in terms of popularity – popping up and then disappearing into the sidelines over the years, and is back up at the top of the list of ‘fads’ at the moment. Matter of the fact is that intermittent fasting is something that has been around for eons and something that (in my opinion) should and will continue to become more and more understood and utilised in the future.
Before I launch in - **disclaimer** - I am not a nutritionist, doctor, a diet-goer nor am I enforcing this type of lifestyle upon you. I am merely sharing my understanding and knowledge through all the research I have done and my understanding of the body and health as I know it as well as my personal experience having participated in IF for a number of years.
I’m going to keep the content of this blog broad as there are gazillions of research articles and TED talks etc online that will go into in-depth detail regarding how intermittent fasting has been around for years, how it is normal for our bodies to go through periods of fasting and the different types of fasting involved.
Basically, IF is where you limit your time of eating (food/caloric intake) to a certain period to allow your body to focus on getting a good tune up without having to worry about digesting food constantly. I think of it this way – our bodies are phenomenal machines. They are constantly keeping us alive, whilst making us move and think and repair ourselves and getting rid of poison (alcohol/bad fats etc) and digesting the food we put in and turning that food into energy and growing cells so our hair continues to grow and and and….
Every time we eat something, we are giving our bodies one more thing to worry about doing, so take away the digestion for a few hours and it gives our body a bit more time to fix all the other little things that need fixing without any distraction. (*This is done in a cyclical matter because your body DOES require food to function. Take it away completely for too long and you will be putting your body into starvation mode and negate all the benefits of IF)
The benefits of IF are numerous from improving cardiovascular health to improving brain health to improving the removal of waste material/toxins from the cells to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels to reducing inflammation to helping with weight loss and slowing down ageing and reducing insulin resistance and lowering blood sugar levels….the list goes on.
So how do you go about trying IF?
There are many ways to fast and you need to find the way that suits you best. I tend to fast for an entire day. That is, I do not eat any food after dinner the night before until breakfast the morning after (i.e a 36 hour period). For example, if I’m fasting on Monday, I’ll have dinner on Sunday night as per usual and not eat until Tuesday morning again. I will drink a lot of water and tea in this time frame to keep me ‘full’ as we have become so accustomed to thinking that the feeling of ‘hunger’ is bad and abnormal when really it isn’t.
There are fasts where you fast two days a week and eat normally the other 5 (one of the most popular/beneficial) and others where you just limit your calorie intake that day so that you may just eat salad/fruit on your fast days. There are fasts where you eat during certain hours of the day… I’m not going to go into the different types of fasting as the options are endless but the bottom line is finding something for you that works.
I have found some days I have fasted all day and got to the end of the day and have just wanted to eat something – so I do. Listen to your body, it shouldn’t be torture, it should be quite easy and feel right and light and good for your body. If you’re doing it and dreading every second of every day, find a way to ease into it a bit more. If you’re waking up the following day and not feeling full of energy and lean and light and ready to take on the world, then perhaps you need to try a different form of fasting or it may not be for you. Having said that, give yourself a few weeks of fasting before making that call. And lastly- do your own research. Don’t rely on my word: listen to the TED talks, read the research articles, talk to colleagues and friends who fast and make up your own mind about whether you can see the benefits of fasting or not. I am a huge advocate for intermittent fasting. But it’s your body, your health. So take control.
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