Intermittent fasting is not a new craze, but it is something that has grown in popularity over recent years. Essentially revolving around cycles of eating and cycles of fasting, it is based on giving your body time to digest your food and remove toxins from your system. Though it doesn't specify which foods you should eat, it will always be more effective when paired with good food choices.
While many would call it a diet, it is better accurately described as an eating pattern. In fact, fasting and eating patterns have been in existence for thousands and thousands of years. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn't have our modern conveniences, like supermarkets, refrigerators or year-round food. Sometimes they didn't have food available for days or weeks. During this era, humans evolved to function without food for extended periods.
The most common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16 hours fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.
Starting with the most popular method, also known as the 16:8 method, this involves skipping one meal per day, usually breakfast. It also ensures that the daily eating periods take place within an eight-hour block. It then counts the 16-hour time slot after the final meal and before the first meal the next day as the fasted hours.
This means that if you have a good, 8-hour sleep, you will only need to fast for 8 hours per day while awake. You can usually determine the best eating schedule based on what suits your waking, working and bedtime schedule best.
When should I fast?
Lauren finds that having an eating window from 11 am-7 pm works best for her. This allows her to have some time to properly digest before bedtime. It also works perfectly with her mornings as she wakes up at 6:30 am most mornings to prepare her kids for school, exercise and get to work. When 11 am comes around, and she's at work, it's the perfect time for her to have a juice, smoothie or Nutritional Latte and break her fast.
So, what's the science behind fasting?
When you fast, several things happen in your body on a cellular and molecular level. Your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. At the same time, your cells initiate important repair processes, which change the expression of genes.
To break it down further, some of the things that happen when you fast include:
- Increased levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH): These can skyrocket as much as 5-fold, which is beneficial for weight loss and muscle gain
- Insulin levels drop: Sensitivity to insulin will dramatically drop, making stored fat more accessible
- Cellular repair: Your cells will initial cellular repair processes, including autophagy. These processes involve the cells removing old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside of them
- Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
If you have always wanted to give intermittent fasting a go, why not try it now?! It isn’t hard. It’s just different.
First, it’s an intention, then a behaviour, then a habit. It will slowly become a practice, then a second nature, until it is simply who you are!