What's the Deal with Intermittent Fasting?
Have you tried fasting? Most of us have done it by accident. Have you ever gone 12-16 hours without eating? Of course, you have!
If you finish dinner at 6:30 and have a late breakfast or even skip breakfast, you’ve done it. Maybe you had breakfast or brunch at 10:30.
That’s a 16-hour fast right there.
There are proven major health benefits to this if it’s done on a regular basis.
But I actually don’t recommend fasting late into the morning when doing a daily fast. There’s a better, easier way. I’ll get into that in a minute.
First, what is “intermittent fasting” anyway?
Intermittent fasting is a broad term that basically refers to time-restricted eating schedules. So, you could dream up any eating schedule you want that has gaps of 12 hours or more without food and that would be intermittent fasting.
Some people restrict their eating for longer periods to achieve certain health benefits. For instance, they fast for an entire 24 or 36 hours once each week.
The health benefits of intermittent fasting are obvious when people evaluate their lab results by looking at cholesterol, blood sugar, hormones including insulin, etc.
It’s astounding how much lab test results improve by restricting food for a short period, consistently daily or weekly.
Other results people notice without lab tests are fat loss, more energy, and mental clarity.
There is some disagreement as to when the beneficial metabolic processes start and end.
In general, though, it appears that the body starts burning stored energy in the form of fat somewhere between 12 and 14 hours of fasting.
And the release of more Human Growth Hormone(HGH) increases between 12-16 hours. That’s exciting because HGH stimulates human cell growth, reproduction, and regeneration.
Autophagy starts at about 18 hours. Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells so you can create newer, healthier cells.
So if you are concerned about hormonal imbalance, chronic inflammation, chronic pain, being overweight, or high cholesterol it’s a great tool. It gets quick results and gives you more direct control of your health.
As a tool for weight loss, I personally think intermittent fasting is OK to use as long as your main focus is to achieve better health. And don’t do it if you have a history of eating disorders.
I would not use intermittent fasting as a substitute for eating healthy.
If you eat poor quality food regularly (sugar, starch, refined grains/flours, fried food, alcohol) regularly and fast to clean up your body, you are still causing cell damage that can lead to disease.
Regarding scheduling, fasting for shorter periods of time daily is generally more comfortable. It’s more achievable than doing longer fasts (24+ hours) once per week.
Personally, I have a simple habit of doing a 12-hour intermittent fast daily. Sometimes I ratchet it up to 14 or 16 hours if I’m having some health issues or just know I need to step off of a train of culinary indulgence and want to help my body recover.
Here’s an intermittent fasting schedule that keeps you satiated and gives you energy for the most productive parts of the day.
As I stated earlier if you’re doing a daily intermittent schedule I recommend evening fasting hours as opposed to morning fasting hours,
Let’s say you want to do a 14-hour fast each day. I would encourage you to consider 4 pm – 7 am as opposed to 7 pm -10 am. Here’s why.
Getting a solid protein-rich meal to start your day is essential to stay focused and energized for work. In the evening typically you’re winding down and don’t need as much fuel to burn.
Also, eating (especially sugary starchy foods) can cause the stimulating hormone called cortisol to increase.
Cortisol should be at its lowest point at the end of the day so you can sleep. If cortisol rises late in the day from eating late it will negatively affect your quality of sleep.
Front loading the day with protein and vegetables will also keep your blood sugar in check so you won’t have strong cravings in the evening.
If you’re getting “hangry” or jittery later in the day, have more protein with breakfast or lunch.
Also, this ensures you’ll have an empty stomach when you go to sleep which improves the quality of sleep. It lets your body go into repair and restore mode as opposed to digesting whatever you ate for dinner.
As a side note regarding bedtime. You’ll be much more successful with this process if you go to bed (lights out and eyes closed) by 10 pm.
So with a 4 pm – 7 am fast you’re more comfortable during the hours when you’re not eating and you have sustained energy and focus when you need it.
Also, it doesn’t have to be exactly 4 pm – 7 am. You can experiment with longer or shorter schedules.
Try what works for you but I highly recommend you schedule it so you aren’t eating anything after 7pm and can eat breakfast soon after waking.
As always, I’m truly grateful to you for letting me help. I’m always here for you and your loved ones.
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