Intermittent Fasting 101
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Do you have goals to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle for the new year? There are many options with exercise programs, dieting, smartphone apps, online coaches and fasting.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is abstaining from food and drink for a period of time. Some people may do this for religious purposes, a quick path to lose a few pounds for an event, to kick start a diet plan or to cleanse. Some people use fasting as a method to cleanse the body of toxins to live an active and healthier life.
Intermittent Fasting has picked up in popularity as a current fitness trend. Intermittent involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting. The focus is on when you eat and not necessarily what you eat.
There are various options of fasting to consider.
You skip breakfast have lunch at noon and push dinner out to 8 PM. Being that you are fasting as you sleep combined with the hours you postponed eating until noon, allows for a 16-hour fasting period. Your eating window becomes an 8-hour window with Noon for lunch and 8 PM for dinner options. This is commonly known as the 16.8 methods. Coffee, tea, water and supplements, non-caloric are allowed.
- It is easy to do, and you feel less deprived.
- Hunger still occurs but is not as big of an issue if you were fasting for 24 hours.
- Reduction in insulin levels and blood sugar.
- Increase in human growth hormone.
- Some studies have been done that say that you may live longer.
- It has been suggested that intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
- Individuals have stated that it is more convenient without having to plan meals and saves time.
- Some also say they have more energy and are mentally encouraged by the weight loss.
One Meal a day (OMAD):
This plan usually requires you to eat one meal a day, usually dinner with no consumption of any calories during the day. Non-caloric tea, coffee, and water are allowed. This intermittent fasting is also referred to as 23:1 for 23 hours of fasting and 1 hour of eating. For the one meal, it is always encouraged to choose healthy options. However, there is no restriction typically for what you decide to eat for that meal.
- Rapid weight loss.
- Easy to follow with no calorie counting.
- No deprivation or managing cheat days as there are no foods that are considered off limits.
- It may help lower blood sugars and help with type 2 diabetes.
- Potential to have a positive impact on sleep cycles.
- It could improve memory and benefit the cardiac system.
24 Hour Intermittent Fasting
Considering that you may be an emotional or stress eater, the 24 hours fast can help you distinguish between physiological hunger and emotional hunger. Physiological hunger is real hunger in that your brain, and internal organs are low on energy. It could also mean that you have had an intense workout or ran a half marathon and need to replenish to refuel your energy needs. Emotional hunger is a created feeling of desire, but it may be more of a mental or emotional need versus a biological. Some people refer to this as stress eating.
Example: while working on an intense deadline it is easy to reach for sugar-filled foods, like chocolate or cookies or high sodium foods like chips or high carbohydrates like bread when working in a stressful situation and finding comfort through eating these types of foods.
If the 24-hour fast seems too much, there are modifications of this option especially if you struggle with hunger or diabetes.
- Creating and independence from food.
- Distinguishing between physiological and emotional hunger so that you can create positive eating habits to support your goals for a healthy lifestyle.
- Health benefits to manage insulin levels.
For more details refer to the article by Cyrus Khambatta, Ph.D., Nutritional biochemistry:https://www.mangomannutrition.com/24-hour-intermittent-fasting-explained/
What are the effects of Fasting on Blood Sugar and Weight Loss?
Intermittent Fasting can help weight loss. Eating 3 meals a day along with snacks especially the white flours rice and pasta if not used will be stored as fat cells. By limiting meals, insulin levels decrease long enough to burn fat. Limiting your meals also has positive impacts in moderating insulin which helps moderate blood sugar spikes.
For more information refer to the Harvard Health Publishing article: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156.
Best Tips for Successful Fasting:
- Consult your physician before beginning a fasting program to ensure you are fasting, but not causing harm to your health, especially if you suffer from type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia, or diabetic ketoacidosis.
- Try different fasting tactics to determine what works best for you and your health goals.
- Adapt your exercise routine due to your reduced caloric intake and not having the fuel for an intense workout. You can continue light to moderate to exercise to maintain a healthy habit of exercise.
- Staying hydrated is important. Not eating meals does not mean that you shouldn’t balance this with non-caloric beverages, like water and tea. A good indication if you are properly hydrated, is your urine should be a pale yellow. If it is a dark yellow, you need to increase your intake of non-caloric beverages.
- Plan your meals. Your body gets limited meals, make sure they are filled with the best nutrients that your body needs to replenish.
Fasting or Intermittent Fasting, Be Advised
Finally, while there are advantages, there are still thoughts from professionals on overall impacts, especially if you have diabetes. It is also advised, that if you are pregnant breastfeeding, under 18, underweight, or suffering from an eating disorder, then fasting Is not recommended.
When considering fasting it is key to be clear on your goals and know your body, it is all about balance. Once you have a meal, your insulin rises. There is limited storage space and once this is reached the liver turns excess to fat. Unfortunately, regular habits are to eat three full meals a day with two to three midday snacks, to make sure there is a total of 6 meals a day. This keeps your body in the ‘fed state’ which leads to weight gain over time. You have to allow your body time to burn food energy. The goal is to restore balance which means losing weight by allowing your body time to burn the food energy,
For more information refer to the video and article by the Diet Doctor: https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting.
Fasting has its advantages for rapid weight loss, but always consider your health, lifestyle and overall health goals to determine the best plan for long term success!