Intermittent Fasting has become a bit of a ‘buzz’ word over the last couple of years, and refers to the practice of manipulating the time we eat – known as the ‘eating window’……what does this all really mean and is it a practice worth integrating into your health plan?
After following the research, and also using it myself and with clients over the last four years, I really do believe it is – read on to find out more………
Fasting simply refers to a period of time where you are not eating – we naturally ‘fast’ often (maybe not intentionally), and it is totally normal. ‘Breakfast’ as an example, is what ‘breaks the fast’ for most people after sleeping overnight.
Our ancient ancestors never had the luxury of eating every few hours like we do now. Humans were often forced to ‘fast’ purely due to the unavailability of food. Consequently we developed a metabolism suited to this (we are SUPER efficient at storing energy!). This means we are not metabolically geared to eat as often as we do, and in the way that we do without putting on fat – it is literally how we survived. Throw in the energy dense, low nutrient, refined carbohydrate food we eat a lot of, and we have ‘the perfect storm’ for weight gain, metabolic disease and diabetes.
The Benefits of Fasting Include:
• More time for REST REPAIR REGENERATION
• Digestive Ease – digestion is a high energy requiring process and eating less frequently support digestive health
• Development of Metabolic Flexibility – you become a more efficient ‘fat burner’ and use fat for fuel more easily
• Fat loss – without the presence of circulating glucose, fatty acid oxidation increases
• Improved Sleep – melatonin receptors turn off pancreas activity, so it is optimum to finish eating 2-3 hrs before bed (when melatonin is at its highest)
• Increased Endurance – early research shows an increase in endurance with a 9 hr eating window and a 15 hour fast.
• Anti-Ageing – it activates the body’s system of ‘cleaning house’ – cells create membranes that hunt out scraps of dead, diseased or worn out cells, when liver glycogen is depleted. This happens around 12-16 hours into a fast.
• Breast Cancer Protection – a 13hr fast in women has been shown to be protective to breast cancer.
• Chronic Disease Risk Reduction – an overall reduction in inflammatory load cardiovascular disease prevention.
• Normalise Blood Sugar Control and Insulin – This occurs as hormones such as insulin & leptin become more sensitized, and ghrelin (the hunger hormone) normalizes.
With all these benefits, you are probably thinking ‘when can I start?!’
Fasting is like a muscle, and just like the more you exercise the stronger/fitter you get, the more you fast, the easier it becomes. It can take some practice to get your blood sugar under control, and for this reason, start with aiming for 4-5hrs between meals. From here you can start to extend your overnight fast.
Also focus on building a super nutritious ‘slow burn fuel’ plate. Ensure plenty of healthy fats (remember – fat provides satiety), clean protein (palm size approximately) and unrefined carbohydrates (mostly vegetables and some rice).
From there, you can start to increase you ‘Fast’. There are a couple of options you might like to try:
13:11 (13 hours fasting, 11 hour eating window)
– Known as a ‘circadian rhythm fast’.
– Eating in line with your circadian rhythm has many benefits – including improved sleep.
– It’s ideal to eat at least 2-3 hrs before bed, before your melatonin levels peak.
16:8 (16 hours fasting, 8 hour eating window) (This is my favourite!!)
– This is the most protective fast from a disease risk point of view
– Breast cancer protection
– Decreased cardiovascular risk factors in both men and women
– Eg: Fasting window from 7pm to 11am.
What can you consume is the ‘Fasting Period’?
– Water/lemon water
– Apple cider vinegar
– Herbal tea
– Black coffee/MCT (‘bulletproof’ coffee – coffee whipped with butter/ghee and coconut oil)….you can find the recipe under the recipes section on my website: www.happyandhealthywithhayley.com.au/recipes
– Sugar free electrolytes
– Coffee with a dollop of cream (if you can tolerate dairy)
You may have heard of other protocols including Broth fasting, 5:2, a 24hr fast, alternate day fasting or even a water fast – talk to myself or your health practitioner about what might suit you and why. As with anything in life, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and we are all unique. I have found men can incorporate this easily into their daily routine. Women on the other hand, need to be more mindful of where they are in their menstrual cycle, and the hormonal fluctuations that occur throughout the month.
There are some people who shouldn’t fast – this includes pregnant/breastfeeding Mums, during periods of high stress and/or adrenal dysfunction, after high intensity training, if you have poor blood sugar control, if you are on certain medications (talk to your health practitioner). Fasting is also NOT suitable for children.
So, like I said to begin, I absolutely believe intermittent fasting can be a powerful practice to incorporate as a part of your health plan. It just MAKES SENSE!
If you would like more info, or to discuss how this could work for you, contact me and we can make an appointment time.