The thought of ‘starving myself’ is unappealing. I’m sure you feel the same. However with all the discussion about intermittent fasting (IF) I’ve been excitedly drawn to the idea and in the past week have been experimenting (while doing my gentle cleanse). ‘What’s taken me SO long?’ I hear you say.
Hmmm thoughts like, how do I do it? I’d starve myself! I’ll get it wrong, It’s not for me etc etc!
Yet across the world in different cultures, some form of fasting has been practiced for spiritual and religious reasons for centuries. Touted as a way to refocus the mind and body, sometimes lasting 24 hours or more. Then go back a few hundred thousand years and fasting was a part of our day to day existence. It’s in our DNA.
An ancient practice or way of life that’s become the ‘new thing’ and in our world of abundance and over consumption of food perhaps for good reason.
If you have or you’ve been interested like me, here’s what I’ve discovered, but first… what exactly is it and what is autophagy?!
Traditionally a fast is not eating food for consecutive days or even weeks. Intermittent fasting however, involves not eating food for just 12 to 16 hours a day and reducing the window of time you eat to an 8 to 12 hour period. That’s it.
The ideal timeframe for health benefits seems to be 16 hours.
The benefits to be gained are when fasting happens consistently over a longer period of time i.e. no quick fix (sorry)!
• promotes healthy weight
• improves blood sugar
• helps a healthy heart
• reduces inflammation
• reduces appetite
• protects cognitive (brain) health
• helps fight stress-induced cravings
“Intermittent fasting is hypothesised to influence metabolic regulation via effects on (a) circadian biology, (b) the gut microbiome, and (c) modifiable lifestyle behaviours, such as sleep. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28715993
It simplifies a healthy lifestyle by reducing the food choices we need to make every day. As a Mum this is especially attractive!
Abstaining from food for longer than normal means we give the body a break from constant digestion, more time for rest and repair.
It’s easy. Intermittent fasting is straightforward. It doesn’t require any extra thought to menu planning or long shopping lists.
It kickstarts ketosis. A state that happens when we no longer have glucose to use as a fuel and we resort to burning fat for fuel so ‘retraining’ our systems to burn fat stores for fuel – our natural state. (as Naomi Whittle, Author & CEO says – “it is nature’s reset button”)
How it works.
One of the most exciting ways is a process called autophagy.
If you haven’t come across this term, in Greek auto means ‘self’ and phagy means ‘to eat’. Autophagy refers to a self-eating process within our cells that encourages the proliferation of new, healthy cells.
‘Fasting is a crucial component that ultimately controls inflammation in the body and activates autophagy’ ~ Yoshinori Ohsumi, 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Imagine, as our bodies aren’t working on digesting so much food, they get the chance to tend to cellular functions. Functions that include removing waste and toxins from the body. It gives our digestive system and body a chance to rest and repair. In doing this it takes ‘stress’ off the bodies important functions.
Without food, insulin levels in the blood decrease and can keep the body sensitive to insulin, which gives better blood sugar control. With blood sugars being managed better, and the stress on the body reduced, the body can then start to burn fat.
Hence it’s easy to see how IF helps with;
• Weight management and consequently
• Better sleep (and all that goes along with these improvements)!
Note: enjoying nutrient rich drinks in the fasting timeframe, especially mineral rich drinks and some healthy fats, such as bone broth may assist the fasting benefits.
It may not be for everyone.
It seems that if our hormones need some love and attention or there are other imbalances, fasting may backfire e.g. I’ve worked with clients who fast and after losing weight initially their energy and weight can plateau. As soon as they introduce smaller more regular meals, their energy increases and sleep improves.
Support your liver and kidneys well before fasting. This is important. If our detox pathways are clogged, not detoxing efficiently we don’t want toxins recirculating throughout the body causing unwanted trouble.
And if you have trouble metabolising fats then it may be important to start very gently e.g. a 12-hour window of fasting rather than 16 hours and see how you feel.
We are all bio-individual and while something may work for one it may not work for another at a particular time and place. Listen to your body and do what’s right for you and always consult with your health practitioner.
One more thing, food and the preparation of food in our homes has magical qualities in how it brings us together and nourishes us. It’s important we always continue enjoying food in this way and the love, thought and preparation that goes into sharing it with those around us.
It takes time. While the lure of immediate weight loss is attractive, it’s not healthy. Far better to do it gradually and IF seems to have the good results when done over a longer period of time and while still enjoying a nutrient rich, real food diet, without ‘empty’ calories.
Personally, at the end of the week I’ve enjoyed a renewed energy, clarity of thought and calmness. I love my gentle cleanse and do it a couple of times a year. This time I did it with my hubby which was a really great experience and more enjoyable. Just until this Sunday the 13th of February, 2019 you can download the cleanse manual for free here and join me on a LIVE call as I walk you through it for even better outcomes.
And now I’m looking forward to experimenting more with IF and seeing how it works best for me. If you've fasted before or done my cleanse let me know how it went? I'd love to hear.
https://www.naomiwhittel.com, ‘Glow 15’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bAkvnvX0W8 Yoshinori Ohsumi