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A Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting

wellness Jun 08, 2021

Did you know that you can help your body boost and repair itself, loose weight, sleep more soundly, and increase its energy levels, just by rearranging when you eat? Our research on intermittent fasting has shown it to be one of the quickest and longest lasting ways to change your body. Intermittent fasting requires going without food for a period of time, with multiple variations to choose from. As each of our bodies are unique, finding the right pattern for you is essential. Intermittent fasting helps you to be more aware of your eating schedules and works to get you into a regular eating pattern. Follow these ten tips to learn about intermittent fasting and see if it might be something you want to try.

Tip 1:  Fasting is Cleansing

Many religions and cultures have practiced some form of fasting for centuries. Going without food for an extended period puts the body into a state known as autophagy. In literal terms autophagy means “self-eating”. Over time our body’s cells start to accumulate oxidized particles that can gunk up our system, resulting in inflammation. Autophagy is the body’s way of clearing out the gunk and unnecessary cellular debris, toxins and waste.  

Tip 2: Improve Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone in the body that works to control the levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. When the body becomes insulin resistant, glucose does not enter the cells as it should and starts to build up in the blood. Higher levels of glucose in the blood can lead to weight gain and type 2 Diabetes. During intermittent fasting the body becomes less resistant to insulin, helping the blood glucose levels to lower.

Tip 3: Burn Fat not Sugar

Our bodies are wired to use glucose (sugar) for quick and immediate energy. When we eat a regular diet, the body pulls out glucose from the foods that we are eating. During fasting, once the glucose reserves have been used up, the body will work to use stored fat for energy instead.  The body will move into this fat burning state around twelve hours after the last meal eaten.

Tip 4: Time Restricted Eating

Time restricted eating is one of the intermittent fasting styles that many find the easiest to incorporate. This approach focuses on eating within a specific window of time, then fasting during the remaining hours. Many start out with a 12-hour eating window, then may choose to decrease that to a 10-hour window. If you normally eat breakfast at 8 am, you would then eat your last meal or snack by 8 pm, allowing your body a 12-hour window of no food. In the 10-hour window approach, you would eat breakfast at 10 am, with your last meal or snack being eaten by 8pm, allowing your body a 14-hour window without food.

Tip 5: The 5:2 Approach

The 5:2 intermittent fasting approach is rapidly becoming one of the more popular patterns. During five days of the week, you will eat and drink as you normally would (in a healthy fashion of course!), while on the other 2 days of the week, you limit your calorie intake to around 500-600 calories per day. The 2 days you choose will not be back to back, with at least one non-fasting day in between. On the lower calorie days, eating high vegetables with small amounts of fruits and proteins can help you to feel satisfied while keeping the total calories low.

Tip 6: Eat-Stop-Eat

The eat-stop-eat method takes the 5:2 approach to the next level. During the eat-stop-eat method, you eat healthy for 5 days, and on the remaining 2 days a week you abstain from eating, with a full fast for 24 hours. For example, your last meal would be 9am on Monday, followed by no eating until 9am on Tuesday morning. During the period of fasting, you would still want to hydrate well with plenty of water or calorie free beverages such as unsweetened tea or coffee.

Tip 7:  Choose-Your-Day-Fasting

If you prefer to have control over which day you fast on, this is the method you should incorporate. Once a week, for a period of 24 hours, you will go without eating food. So, if you ate dinner Saturday night at 5pm, you would not eat again until 5pm on Sunday. With this method you will still want to ensure that you are staying well hydrated with water or calorie free beverages.

Tip 8: Warrior OMAD  

With so many styles and options to choose from, you may wish to instead be a warrior and incorporate the OMAD style, also known as one-meal-a-day. Having one meal a day, while abstaining from food the remainder of the day, will help to burn fat and boost your metabolism. We don’t want you to do the warrior method every-day, but rather selecting one or two days a week to incorporate this method.

Tip 9: Whittle Your Waistline

The greatest benefit many find from intermittent fasting is weight loss. Obviously, with all the styles we’ve mentioned your body will have a period with fewer calories consumed. Provided you are not increasing your caloric intake on your regular days to compensate for your fasting days, you will have a noticeable drop in your weight. In addition to decreasing the number of calories consumed, intermittent fasting brings a heightened awareness of what you are eating, and when you are eating. This has also been shown to assist with weight loss, as many will start to eliminate some of the bad habits they have picked up along the way, like late night snacking, or large portions with each meal.

Tip 10: Enhanced Mental Clarity

As the body goes through it’s periods of fasting working to clear out the extra debris and toxins (autophagy), lowering its resistance to insulin, and burning fat for energy, you will notice an additional benefit of enhanced mental clarity. Fasting has been shown to enhance the brain’s neuroplasticity, allowing it to become sharper and respond to information more quickly. During fasting, there is also an increase in a molecule known as BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) which assists the brain with mood and cognitive functions such as memory and learning.

With so many different options to choose from, it may be challenging to know how to start or which path to take. I would love to connect with you to optimize your healthy eating and assist you with your health goals and wellness. I believe in optimal wellness and vitality and am dedicated to helping you look and feel your best. I believe that it is never too early, or too late, to work towards being the healthiest you.

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