Fast A Little, Gain A Lot
Recently, I've had several inquiries about intermittent fasting. To help us all understand this idea better, I invited my friend and wellness colleague Melanie Hardy share her expertise on the subject. Melanie is a multi-talented powerhouse; certified nutritionist, published author, wellness coach, and lawyer! Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of intermittent fasting and how to incorporate it into your life.
Intermittent Fasting is in the news everywhere! I have been practicing this eating pattern for a little over a year now, with great results including weight loss, more energy, and improved sleep .
SO, WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
There are many studies documenting the benefits of fasting which include lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, reducing cholesterol levels, enhancing the body’s resistance to oxidative stress (which is connected to aging and many chronic diseases), reducing inflammation (a key driver in many common diseases) and… weight loss! The weight loss benefit is how I first got introduced to Intermittent Fasting (or IF for short).
Like most other approaches to weight loss, the overall goal is to reduce calories without malnutrition. However, compared to the other approaches, Intermittent Fasting is focused on WHEN to eat and when not to eat!
Intermittent fasting is NOT a diet, it's a pattern of eating. It's a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them!
SO HOW DOES INTERMITTENT FASTING WORK?
Your body is always in one of two states: fed or fasted. In the fed state, (anytime your body is digesting food), your body’s insulin levels make burning fat a challenge. However, in the fasted state, (8-12 hours after your body finishes digesting), your insulin levels are lower and your body is better able to reach into fat stores for energy.
After you eat, your body works hard to digest your meal. As you break down your meal in your digestive tract, nutrients are released into your bloodstream. That means your body often has excess fuel and that excess gets stored as fat. When you fast, your body has to rely on its energy stores by burning fat and glycogen. So, through intermittent fasting, you train your body to burn fat instead of storing fat!!! This is where the weight loss aspect comes into play!!
Here are some of the things that change in your metabolism when you fast:
- Insulin: Insulin increases when we eat. When we fast, insulin decreases dramatically. Lower levels of insulin facilitate fat burning.
- Human growth hormone (HGH): Levels of growth hormone may skyrocket during a fast, increasing as much as 5-fold. Growth hormone is a hormone that can aid fat loss and muscle gain, among other things.
- Norepinephrine (noradrenaline): The nervous system sends norepinephrine to the fat cells, making them break down body fat into free fatty acids that can be burned for energy.
HOW DO I LOSE WEIGHT WHILE INTERMITTENT FASTING?
There are several things you need to keep in mind if you want to lose weight with intermittent fasting:
- Food quality: The foods you eat are still important. Try to eat mostly whole, single ingredient foods.
- Calories: Calories still count. Try to eat "normally" during the non-fasting periods, not so much that you compensate for the calories you missed by fasting.
- Consistency: Same as with any other weight loss method, you need to stick with it for an extended period of time if you want it to work.
- Patience: It can take your body some time to adapt to an intermittent fasting protocol. Try to be consistent with your meal schedule and it will get easier
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS TO INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Besides the fat loss that I discussed above research has shown that Interment Fasting can improve hormonal Imbalances, increased life expectancy, maintenance of skeletal muscle mass, decreased insulin levels and increased insulin sensitivity.
Research shows that fasting not only wards off Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, and many other diseases!