Recent studies have shown that there are many benefits associated with intermittent fasting. If you’re like me, you’ve been watching what you eat for as long as you can remember. But did you know that WHEN you eat can be just as important as what you eat? It turns out you can lose weight and improve your level of fitness, health and cognitive function all by employing an intermittent fasting regimen.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern rather than a diet. It involves cycling between periods of fasting and periods of eating. How these periods are broken up is best determined by your individual lifestyle. Some people limit their calories to 500-600 a day, on two non-consecutive days, and eat normally the rest of the week. Others fast for 24 hours twice a week. The most popular pattern is to fast for 16 hours a day and eat within an eight hour window.
You might be asking yourself why anyone would want to restrict the hours in which they can eat. The answer is that it could greatly improve your health. Wouldn’t you rather burn fat than store it? As noted by Dr. Jason Fung, an intermittent fasting researcher, doctor and author, “if you don’t eat, your body will simply take those calories that it needs from your body fat.” After abstaining from food for a number of hours your body runs out of sugar stores and switches into fat-burning mode. This metabolic switching helps you burn fat for energy, and improves your physical and mental health in a multitude of ways. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “fasting improves metabolism, lowers blood sugar, lessens inflammation..clears toxins and damaged cells lowering cancer risk and enhancing brain function.”
IS INTERMITTENT FASTING RIGHT FOR ME?
The easiest way to see if intermittent fasting is for you is to gradually lengthen the time between your last meal of the day and your first meal the next day. Once you work up to 16 hours of fasting and an eight-hour eating window, you can determine the specific hours that work best for you. Intermittent fasting works best if combined with a healthy, plant-based diet such as the Mediterranean diet. This involves eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, fiber, lean protein and good fats, while avoiding sugar, refined grains and processed foods. While intermittent fasting is safe for most, it is important to consult with your physician before adopting any new eating regimen.
BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
As recently reported in the New York Times, intermittent fasting can lead to “improvements in a variety of health indicators and a slowing or reversing of aging and disease processes.”
Improves metabolism by 3.6-14%, allowing you to burn more calories
Burns fat, and specifically the most harmful belly fat
Slows the aging process
Boosts physical performance and endurance
Improves motor coordination
Increases human growth hormone levels
Improves overall body composition
Improves sleep, and promote deep sleep
Increases energy, mental clarity and focus
Lowers cancer risk
Lowers blood sugar and insulin
Clears toxins, repairs cells and increases growth of new nerve cells
Enhances brain function including learning and memory
Lowers risk for Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, Multiple sclerosis, type 2 Diabetes, depression, heart disease and stroke
Improves blood pressure and cholesterol
Improves heart health
Reverses type 2 Diabetes
Allows GI tract to rest and repair
Reduces liver fat
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
After getting a go-ahead from your doctor, a good way to start intermittent fasting is to eat an earlier dinner and avoid night-time snacks. Your next step is to eat a later breakfast. Once you have a handle on a 16-hour fast with an 8-hour eating window, you can tweak the timing of the switch-off to best suit your lifestyle.
The more nutritious your diet and the more active you are, the more you will get out of your new eating plan. You also want to make sure you stay hydrated. Mindful eating and meditation are great ways to make this new lifestyle stick.
Along with scheduled eating and a nutritious diet, working out regularly is the key to achieving optimal health. The top-notch trainers at Golden Home Fitness can provide you with a customized training plan, expert instruction, 24/7 support and accountability. They will empower you to keep the promises you make to yourself for a great 2021. For your free Golden Home Fitness in-person or virtual training session click here: Free Virtual Workout.
INTERMITTENT FASTING CAN HELP YOU REACH YOUR GOALS
Intermittent fasting limits the amount of hours we eat which in turn reduces our calorie intake. At the same time, it increases our metabolism thus creating a win-win situation. We are taking in less calories while burning more calories, and best of all, we are burning more fat. This makes intermittent fasting a very powerful tool for weight loss. Once you are accustomed to the new plan, it is an easy way to feel more in control of your eating. It can also, ultimately save you time and money.
Not only is intermittent fasting an excellent way to lose and maintain weight, but it is also a great way to stay healthy and to feel younger than your years. Intermittent fasting has been shown to prevent and reverse disease. It also lowers the oxidative stress which causes aging. In fact, Dr. Jason Fung refers to Intermittent Fasting as “…an entire rejuvenation process.”
Intermittent fasting is as good for your brain as it is for your body. According to the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, intermittent fasting “may..improve memory along with executive function, and overall cognition.” It can also help you feel more energetic, focused and motivated.
In addition to improving cognitive function, intermittent fasting can make you a better athlete. It can improve both your endurance and your motor coordination. Intermittent fasting allows your muscles to better repair themselves and raises human growth hormone by improving your sleep.
COMBINING EXERCISE, NUTRITIOUS MEALS AND INTERMITTENT FASTING FOR A MULTITUDE OF BENEFITS
While some may scoff at the thought of restricting when they can eat, focusing on when to eat can be easier and safer than many calorie-restricted diets. If your life lacks balance, intermittent fasting may be the way to regain a sense of control. Once you know the parameters of when and what you should eat, you can build a schedule that works best for you. The health coaches at Golden Home Fitness can help you customize and fine-tune an effective program.
Along with regular exercise and proper nutrition, intermittent fasting can lower our risk of disease, slow down our aging process, make us better athletes and lengthen our lifespan. If you’re looking for a leaner body, a sharper mind and a longer life, intermittent fasting just might be the way to get what you want.
Endnotes: nytimes.com; hopkinsmedicine.org; healthline.com; medicalnewstoday.com; healthblog.uofmhealth.org; dietdoctor.com; hopkinsmedicine.org; lewishowes.com; ifm.org; pacificneuroscienceinstitute.org