Intermitted Fasting is a hot trend right now in the fitness and nutrition world. People are using to to reduce body fat, increase strength, promote better sleep, and to improve overall health. Is it true or just another fitness fad?
Intermittent fasting or (IF) is an umbrella term used for diets that cycle between periods of fasting (not eating) and non-fasting (eating).
Interestingly enough people have been doing this since the beginning of time! Sometimes because there was no food, and sometimes because it was a part of people’s religious beliefs. Fasting, if you think about it, is more natural (from an evolutionary stand point) than constantly eating.
Here are some of the most common ways people do this:
- 16/8 method: Skip breakfast and restrict your eating to a 8 hour period (for example 10-6p 1p-9p). Then you fast for 16 hours in between. This is the one to start with if you are interested in trying it out.
- Fast for 24 hours one or 2 times per week. Example: don’t eat dinner from one day until dinner the next day.
When you fast, several things happen in your body on a cellular and molecular level. Your body actually changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible.
- The levels of human growth hormone increase! This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain! YAY! Check out these studies… 4, 5, 6, 7
- Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop! Lower insulin make stored body fat way more accessible, #awesome (8). This is why IF is VERY affective for fat loss. Fat loss also occurs while doing IF because you end up eating less calories. So if weight loss is your goal, don’t binge during eating periods!
- Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This process includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells (9, 10).
- Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease (11, 12).
Below is a list of health benefits of IF – the research is in it’s early stages, but is pretty convincing!
- Fat loss
- Insulin resistance (lowering blood sugars that could protect you from diabetes)
- Inflammation reduction
- Heart health
- Cancer prevention
- Brain health
IF is not for everyone. If you are underweight or if you have any history of eating disorders, IF is not recommended.
If you give it a try, I would love to hear about your experience! I would recommend eating a whole foods based diet and to stay active during the non fasting periods.
I tried the 16/8 method this past week and honestly I liked it for these reasons:
- It was one less thing I had to do. It was nice to not have that meal to plan… it made my morning simple.
- I liked the feeling of knowing that hunger does pass and that I would be okay. I think sometimes we are so quick to act if we feel the slightest feeling of hunger. Is it really hunger? Or is it the food around us all the time that provokes a natural feeling/reaction to food we see?
- It makes you really KNOW what REAL hunger is 🙂
- I felt like my digestion was better. Most likely due to not having a ton of food in me before bed (this is a habit of mine… eating before bed).
- My energy was the same… I didn’t notice any drop.
Overall it was a good experience! I personally would not do it for too long because I did end up eating less. For me weight loss is not a goal so I added that morning meal and before bed snack back in. If you give it a shot, let me know how it goes!
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