Another trendy topic in the health and fitness industry lately, but this is one that I can actually get on board with!
I strongly believe that fasting for atleast 12 – 16 hours every day is beneficial to our bodies and everyone should try it.
If you haven’t really heard about intermittent fasting, or have and want to try it but don’t really know what it is or what it involves, I will give you the down low on it.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Before you say OMG Raquel you said you didn’t believe in dieting, restriction or deprivation so why would you promote intermittent fasting??????
Chill. Okay? Cause intermittent fasting actually isn’t a diet, its not about depriving your body at all, its more-so a diet pattern. It doesn’t effect what you eat or involve restricting certain types of foods, it just changes the times of day you eat and shortens your eating window to give your digestive system a rest. So your consuming your calories between a specific window of time. For example, eating between the hours of 12-8 pm, so you would have your first meal at 12 and your last meal at 8. So you fast for 16 hours. Or even 10-8 pm so then your fasting for 14 hours, which is still beneficial and usually what I aim for.
There are a few different types of intermittent fasting that you can follow. I personally follow it more loosely because it fits my lifestyle. Its all about finding whats best for you, your work schedule, your family life, when you workout, if you have to cook kids dinner, or any other thing that you need to do on a daily basis that effects your eating schedule.
For me, I usually eat my first meal around 10 or 11, and I usually wake up around 6 or 7 depending what I have going on that day (I’m a natural early riser its annoying). If I’m hungry though and my body is like GIVE ME FOOD NOW, I’ll eat. But I like to workout in the mornings and I hate having a belly full of food when I workout, so I will usually wait until my workout is finished to eat my first meal.
You are allowed to have coffee, tea, water so I will sip on coffee and drink loads of water until meal time and usually that satisfies me until then. It’s kind of nice to wake up and do productive things first thing without stressing about what you are going to eat. I’ll do some blogging, meditation, reading, drink coffee, workout before I eat breakfast because thats what I prefer. Its whatever works for YOU and your OWN lifestyle!
My go-to is lots of water and coffee. I cheat a bit cause I think your supposed to do black coffee but I always had a splash of silk almond coffee creamer. 🙂 Like I said I follow it very loosely based on my own lifestyle.
So back to the types of intermittent fasting…
- 16/8 rule
This involves fasting for 16 hours, and eating within an 8 hour window. For example: If you have your first meal at 7 am right when you wake up, your last meal will be at 3 pm. If you don’t eat until noon, you can have your last meal at 8 pm. This is probably the most common method, and it does take some while to get used too. I mean for me, 16 hours is a bit much and I’m like absolutely starving by the time 16 hours is up. Maybe I’m being dramatic but usually I wait 14 hours to eat so I’m not like dying to eat. Like I said its not about deprivation or restriction.
- 12 hour fast
This is what I loosely follow because I always make sure I fast for at least 12 hours and my maximum is about 14 or 15 hours. Research shows fasting for at least 12 hours every day is really beneficial for your body. Some say even 10 hours can be beneficial!
But I loosely follow this 12 hour fasting rule, because sometimes I eat late at night and sometimes I don’t, so I don’t follow a strict time schedule on when I can and can’t eat. I just make sure I get my fasting in, I’ll explain the benefits down below and you will understand why.
- 5:2 diet
This type involves eating normally without fasting for 5 days out of the week, and then 2 days of the week you eat only 500-600 calories. Maybe 2 days of the week your insanely busy or have something else going on and this suits your lifestyle.
- Weekly 24 hour fast
Another popular type of intermittent fasting is fasting for a full 24 hours one day a week, also known as the eat-stop-eat diet. So if you eat breakfast at like 9 am, then you wouldn’t eat again until 9 am the next day for one day of the week.
- Warrior Diet
This is relatively extreme form of intermittent fasting and I don’t really know of anyone that follows it but I wanted to inform you guys on all of the types. This type of fasting involves eating very little, just a few servings of raw fruits and vegetables during a 20 hour fasting window then eating large amounts at night. Kinda strange in my opinion but this type of fasting is apparently followed by people who believe humans are nocturnal eaters and eating at night allows the body to gain more nutrients aligned with the circadian rhythm. Weird, but kind of interesting.
Now I wanna talk about the benefits of intermittent fasting and why I follow it somewhat.
The reason I like to fast for 12-14 hours is because its giving my digestion system a rest.
Before I used to wake up and eat at the crack of dawn because I was all “omg gotta eat breakfast right now to boost my metabolism, its the most important meal of the day, I will gain weight if I don’t eat it or wont have energy.” Even if I wasn’t necessarily hungry in the morning I would eat which kinda fucks with your bodies hunger signals and hormones.
Also, I would make myself eat something before going to the gym in the morning because I thought I would have a shit workout if I didn’t and not have enough energy to get through the morning. This is not the case. It turns out I can get through an intense workout just fine without food, and I prefer not having a belly full during my workouts. I feel way better!
I also love it because I find I don’t stress or worry about what I’m going to eat right when I wake up. This was awesome when I was in University too. I could just wake up and go to school without being like OMG I GOTTA EAT BREAKFAST, even thought I wasn’t hungry. I would pack overnight oats or coconut yogurt with chia and flax for later when I was at school when I was actually wanting to eat.
Here’s what happens to your body when you allow yourself to fast for 10+ hours, and give your digestive system the rest it deserves.
- Changes the functions of your cells, hormones and genes. In a good way!
When your body is in fasting, it will initiate cellular repair processes and your hormone levels will alter in order to make stored body fat more accessible. Also:
- Your insulin levels will drop, meaning your blood sugar levels are decreased as well. May be beneficial to someone who has type II diabetes or is pre-diabetic.
- Your cells will repair themselves and remove waste materials
- Your gene expression and molecules will change enhancing longevity and protection against diseases
2. Reduce oxidative stress and inflammation
Oxidative stress is what causes your body to age, get wrinkles, inflammation in joints, and contributes to other chronic diseases. When you fast, your body could become more resistant to oxidative stress, lower the amount of free radicals in your body and prevent DNA/cell damage.
3. May be beneficial for heart health
Studies show that intermittent fasting has positive effects on blood pressure, LDL cholesterol levels, blood triglyceride and blood sugar levels which all effect your heart health. Heart disease is a common killer right now so evidence of improving heart health through Intermittent fasting is really great to see.
4. Induces Cellular Repair
I just want to touch on this a bit more because it’s really interesting and super important. So when we fast our bodies initial a cellular waste removal process called autophagy. What autophagy does, is it causes the cells to break down and metabolize broken proteins that build up inside cells over time.
Increased autophagy in cells has been linked to protecting our bodies against types of cancer and alzheimers or dementia which are very common diseases.
5. Good for the brain
Linking this to my last point about alzheimers and dementia, intermittent fasting reduces inflammation in the brain and reduces oxidative stress which contributes to brain damage and diseases in the brain.
These kinds of studies showing this has been done just on animals, not humans yet, but I still wanted to talk about it. The studies have shown that intermittent fasting protects against strokes, and increases the development of new nerve cells in the brain for better function. Hopefully this gets proven in humans too! But it’s a start.
6. Your digestive system loves it.
This is my main reason for doing intermittent fasting, to give my digestive system a rest from energy-intensive tasks like digesting and assimilating food all day long. So this could potentially improve the composition of your gut flora because you are allowing it to kind of reboot and sort itself out which helps inflammation in the gut.
I like to think of it like rebooting a computer. Your computer gets corrupted sometimes, isn’t working properly but if you reboot it, a lot of the times it fixes itself. So think of fasting like a reset or reboot on your gut microbiome. You give it the rest it needs to sort itself out and your gut bacteria recharges.
In saying that, I think we all would benefit from fasting somewhat and important to consider.
I don’t want you to starve yourself, thats not what fasting is about. If I wake up and I am super hungry and I haven’t fasted for 10 or more hours then I’ll eat something. I don’t force myself to go without food that long, but the majority of the time I can go 14 hours comfortably and be fine with coffee and water. And I always feel good about it afterwards, I don’t feel restricted or deprived in anyway! Otherwise I would say hell nah to IF!
So thats my low down for you about Intermittent Fasting, the types, and the benefits. If you are considering it, now you have some knowledge on it and the benefits you will reap from it. Think about how it will fit into your lifestyle and I think you will really enjoy it.
If you have any other questions let me know! I would be happy to answer.