Across many different religions and cultures, people have been practicing fasting for thousands of years. Today, intermittent fasting puts a new twist on the ancient practice.
How does it work?
Intermittent fasting means that you consume your daily calories during a specific time frame, (usually 8 hours) and fast for the remainder (14-16 hours). You can choose to do this daily or only a couple times a week.
Example 1 (early bird):
Meal 1- 8:00 am
Meal 2 – 12:00 pm
Meal 3 – 4:00 pm
Example 2 (late luncher):
Meal 1 – 10:30 am
Meal 2 – 2:30 pm
Meal 3 – 6:30 pm
Example 3 (party animal):
Meal 1 – 1:00 pm
Meal 2 – 5:00 pm
Meal 3 – 9:00 pm
Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:
- Within 8-12 hours – the liver has used up its glycogen stores, and the body will start to burn fat.
- Within 12-14 hours – a process called apoptosis kicks in (the body’s natural mechanism of getting rid of all the old cell ).
- Within 14-16 hours – your body starts to repair cellular damage.
Once you decide on a general eating window, talk to your health care professional to make sure intermittent fasting is right for you. To begin, start by fasting for 12 hour, once you feel comfortable with this, extend the fast to 14 hours (recommend for females) and or 16 hours. It is important to listen to your body, increase your fasting time when you feel you are ready. The calories consumed during the re-feeding period should be good quality nutrient dense foods to assist your body with the regeneration of healthy cells. Be sure that during the fast you drink plenty of water.
Reported benefits of fasting:
- Improved blood sugar control
- Lowers cholesterol
- Better appetite control / curbs cravings
- Reduced body fat
- Increase in lean muscle tissue
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved detoxification
- Increased energy
- Improved cognitive function.
- Reduces insulin resistance and protects against type 2 diabetes
When not to fast
Individuals with the following conditions should abstain from intermittent fasting:
- People with diabetes
- If you have a hormone imbalance
- The use of medications that requires food intake
- Active growth stage, such as in adolescents
- Pregnancy, breastfeeding
- Previous history of eating disorder(s)