Intermittent Fasting for Beginners
Intermittent means starting and stopping in set intervals.
Fasting means “to eat sparingly or abstain from all or certain foods”.
Most of us practice daily fasting by simply sleeping for a full 8 hours per night, hence the term break-fast. However, for a large percent of the same population, we use food as our go-to for everything. If we can’t sleep, we grab a snack. If we are hosting or attending a gathering we must have food (and drink) as we mingle. Any stressor will do. It doesn’t help that we are constantly encouraged to eat by advertisements (signs, mobile, TV, computer pop-ups) social norms, and our own bodies when we consume significant amounts of processed foods that can lead to hangry cravings.
How long should you fast?
This article focuses on how you can benefit from a daily fasting routine where you stop eating for at least 16 hours and only eat during an 8-hour window such as 11 am to 7 pm. However, there are many different versions of fasting periods.
Fasting is nothing new. There are many stories of fasting as a form of non-violent protest against violence and unfair politics such as those for Mahatma Gandhi. Most religious practices still encourage some type of short term fasting as a form of physical and spiritual cleansing. While encouraged, fasting isn’t very popularly practiced as it requires a form of sacrifice (behavior change) while dealing with the everyday challenges associated with a full life.
The Benefits of Fasting
If you can master the self-control required to fast regularly here are some of the benefits more commonly reported by those that fast regularly and the associated research:
1. Extra Time
We spend a lot of time choosing, preparing, picking up, waiting for, and cleaning up after what we eat. IF allows for additional time to work, exercise, and focus on what you truly want to accomplish in this life. Instead of giving in to that urge to eat you intentionally turn your focus to something more productive. It is amazing how quickly you can be completely focused on something else besides eating.
2. Weight Loss
When you stop eating for longer intervals you will tend to lose weight. The key to healthy weight loss is to eat healthy foods and in moderate servings during your 8 non-fasting hours. Fasting helps stabilize your insulin levels and allows your body to efficiently burn fat instead of carbohydrates. Harvard Medical School reported that research shows “fasting according to the circadian rhythm does tend to contribute to weight loss when accompanied with a healthy diet” and exercise is also helpful.
3. Human Growth Hormone
HGH production can be triggered when you fast for over 16 to 18 hours. When your body isn’t working on digesting foods it really goes to work on getting back to optimal health while using fat for energy. This hormone helps to preserve the parts of the body that are made of protein and is sometimes referred to as the anti-aging hormone somewhat due to its ability to stimulate cell regeneration.
4. Improved Cognitive function
There are reports suggesting that intermittent fasting to the point of burning fat for energy causes increased production of the molecule (BDNF) which assists in strengthening areas of the brain that help improve learning and memory. This change over to fat burning is referred to as Ketosis and is one of the primary reasons for following a Ketogenic Diet.
5. Improved Self-esteem via self-control
When you have been fasting regularly for a while there is this huge feeling of accomplishment. The practice of controlling yourself instead of mindlessly being controlled by bodily urges and random thoughts is a daily win.
6. Reduced Inflammation
Primarily associated with weight loss The Mayo Clinic says “Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may be more beneficial than other diets for reducing inflammation and improving conditions associated with inflammation”
Another ‘natural’ treatment for inflammation is turmeric root and this site includes a great article on its benefits.
Do not eat unless you are truly hungry.
Find distractors that work for you: reading, writing, exercising, etc.
Fasting along with Keto tends to produce more noticeable results
Drinks that do NOT break your fast:
black coffee (1 or 2 cups max if caffeinated) no sugar
Tea – Image by pixabay.com -Jill Wellington
plain tea (1 or 2 cups max if caffeinated)
Image from Pixabay
water, of course.
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