The effect of fasting on all aspect of our being and body at different levels
There is no shortage of information out there on the how’s and whys behind healthy eating; but what about not eating?
That might sound contentious and like I’m promoting some kind of extreme weight-loss goals, but that isn’t the point of this post at all! – I’m asking you to flip your thinking on its head and consider the times when you aren’t eating as important as the interval time in a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout, or a rest day from the gym. – I’m talking about intermitted fasting.
A hot topic it may be, but not a new idea – intermitted fasting has been around for centuries – and its benefits on the mind-body far surpass any weight-loss goals.
“Humans live on one-quarter of what they eat, on the other three-quarters lives their doctor”
Egyptian pyramid inscription, 6,000 years old quote 3800 B.C
“Fasting is the greatest remedy – the physician within”
Philipps Paracelsus, one of the fathers of Western medicine
“I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency”
The Benefits of Fasting:
As mentioned, there is an almost endless list of benefits to fasting – from physical, psychological, emotional, mental – and even spiritual.
In a nutshell, controlled and mindful fasting is a great way to cleanse, detox, hit the reset button on your digestive and immune system, and reduces oxidative stress*…
*An imbalance of free-radicals in the body
And in a little more detail, controlled and mindful fasting also:
- Benefits the blood by decreasing insulin and increasing Ketones.
- Supports a healthy liver through increased production of beneficial Ketones*.
*Ketones boost energy levels in the Neurons
- Helps the intestines through reduced inflammation and energy uptake.
- Boosts improved cognitive function in your brain through increased (healthy!) stress resistance to cope with the challenge of fasting.
- Increases the level of mitochondria neutrons in your nerve cells, which help produce more energy and repair DNA.
- Reduces both your resting heart rate and blood pressure.
- Reduces your fat cells.
- Increases the efficiency in your muscles.
- Increases your metabolism, as the energy shifts and you start burning fat.
- Regulates your appetite as you will feel fuller eating less food after your fasting period, and reduces the ‘need’ to snack
- Offers mental clarity, new perspectives and helps you reach a heightened state of mental acuteness; building stronger mental awareness of your mind-body connection.
- Reduces resorting to emotional eating.
- Supports you in becoming a more conscious and mindful eater.
- Increases the meditative states you can reach during your meditation practice.
- Boosts personal development and growth; fasting gives you a huge sense of accomplishment.
If you know me, then you’ll know that a lot of my coaching is steeped in primal – or Paleolithic – principles, so for me, controlled, safe and mindful fasting also makes sense in evolutionary terms.
Modern society expects everything all at once – fast living, fast results, fast food – but our body is well equipped to handle long periods of famine, let alone missing one or two meals from time to time.
From studying our ancestors, we know that humans are not designed to eat three times a day. Where did this message come from? Who benefits from the idea that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day,’ or ridiculous diets like the Special K diet?
These industrial pressures and supposed societal norms do not put individual well-being first and are not science nor evolution-based.
The most important thing to take from this is to listen to your body, tune in and eat/live more consciously so that you can figure out what works for you. – And if fasting sounds like something you’d like to try, then you are well-supported in trying one of these.
The Five Most Common Intermittent Fasting Techniques Out There:
1. The 5:2 Diet
The 5:2 Diet involves eating ‘normally’ for five days of the week while restricting your calorie intake to 500 for two days of the week. For example, you might eat normally every day of the week except Mondays and Thursdays. For those two days, you eat 2 small meals of 250 calories each for women and 300 calories each for men.
2. The 16/8 Method
The 16/8 method involves restricting your daily eating window to eight hours while fasting for 16 hours. Within the eating window, you can fit in two, three, or more meals. For example, you might finish your last meal of the day at 8 p.m.; meaning that you can’t eat or drink anything (with the exception of water, black coffee, or black tea) until noon the next day so that you’ve fast for 16 hours.
This ratio can be increased to 19/5 or decreased to 13/9 – anything above 12 hours technically counts as fasting.
3. Eat Stop Eat
This method involves a 24-hour fast once or twice per week.
By fasting from dinner one day to dinner the next day, this amounts to a full 24-hour fast. For example, if you finish dinner at 7 p.m. Monday and don’t eat until dinner at 7 p.m. the next day, you’ve completed a full 24-hour fast.
You can also fast from breakfast to breakfast or lunch to lunch — the end result is the same.
Eat Stop Eat is an intermittent fasting program with one or two 24-hour fasts per week. If you’re doing this to lose weight, it’s very important that you eat normally during the eating periods. In other words, you should eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.
4. Skipping meals:
You don’t need to follow a structured intermittent fasting plan to reap some of its benefits. Another option is to simply skip meals from time to time, such as when you don’t feel hungry or are too busy to cook and eat.
5. Advance Fasting
This more advanced method involves controlled fasting for longer periods such as:
- 48 hours,
- 72 hours, and
- (for the very experienced) up to 5 days!
A great way to start this method is, to begin with, a 24-hour fast every 24 days. When you get comfortable you might even try increasing this to one or two 24-hour fasts per week.
You know you’ve become efficient at it when you are not hungry while fasting!
My Top Tips for Fasting:
- If you eat three meals a day, start by reducing this to one meal a day
- Set yourself up for success by choosing and planning a start and end date for the fast
- Make sure you incorporate moderate movement during a fast period
- Avoid packing your schedule with any social/family or work breakfast/lunch/dinner during your fast
- Have an accountability partner who knows you are safe fasting
- Persevere and remember that day one is always the hardest
- Drink a lot of water and
- You might experience a little headache or slight dizziness – so accept the idea of slight discomfort and remember nothing is permanent!
- Remember that coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fast
- I recommend adding high-quality salt in your mineral water during your fast (for example pink Himalayan or natural sea salt)
- If you decide to try intermittent fasting, keep in mind that diet quality is crucial – For example, it is not possible to fast and then binge on junk foods during the eating periods and expect to boost your health
The goal is always optimising your health to improve your performance!
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