What we call “intermittent fasting” these days used to be called “sensible eating habits”. Often times when we eat late at night it is only because of emotional reasons. Are you hungry? Or are you just eating to eat? When you start to examine your late evening eating habits, you will become more disciplined in this aspect of your life. This will also translate also into other areas.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting basically is just a strategy in which you’re cycling eating with fasting. When you think about it, we naturally fast during the seven or so hours that we sleep each night. So technically intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending your daily fast a little longer. Instead of having your first meal at 9am, you’ll have it at at noon.
How to approach intermittent fasting
There are many ways to approach intermittent fasting:
- The most general fasting strategy is the 16/8 method. You eat and drink only during an eight hour window in the day and fast for the remaining 16 hours. This one is quite hardcore and is also known as a dry fast.
- If the dry fast is too hardcore for you, you can do the same 16/8 method but still drink water.
- Another way to approach the 16/8 method is to incorporate a green juice in the morning. This might make it easier to resist hunger and eat your first solid meal after the fast.
- If 16/8 seems like a too big of a time frame without eating something solid, try to slowly extend the hours of fasting. Or change the window of fasting to what suits you best. For example try having breakfast at 8am and last meal at 4pm instead of having first meal at noon and last meal at 8pm.
Practicing 16/8 intermittent fasting triggers a series of beneficial changes in your body, right down to the cellular level. It causes insulin levels to drop, which improves insulin sensitivity , optimises blood sugar levels and burns fat . It can also increase levels of human growth factor . This is an important hormone involved in cellular regeneration that has been linked to improvements in body composition and decreased body fat. Plus, short-term fasting has been shown to induce autophagy, an important cellular repair process that helps remove waste and toxins to keep your body healthy.
Research also suggests that intermittent fasting may offer protection against chronic disease and brain ageing by altering specific genes and molecules within your body . Some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases.
When we fast, human growth hormone levels go up and insulin levels go down. Your body’s cells also change the expression of genes and initiate important cellular repair processes. These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Hunger is the main side effect of intermittent fasting. You might also feel weak and your brain might not perform as well as you’re used to. This should only be temporary, as it usually takes some time for your body to adapt to the new meal schedule.
Keep in mind though that research is still in its early stages and many questions have yet to be answered. If you have a medical condition/take medication, you should always consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting. We can definitely say for sure from personal experience that it makes your healthy lifestyle loads simpler! Intermittent fasting just makes things easier, as you’re not making as many meals as before.