Some people assume that fasting is like starvation, but this is not the case. Fasting is actually a conscious and coordinated choice to abstain from consuming any calories for a given period of time. It is practiced for a variety of reasons, ranging from biological necessity to spiritual devotion. It is one of the oldest and most widespread practices known to man. Not only that, but many nutritionists, scientists, and academics consider fasting to be the most powerful method of natural healing at our disposal.
Fasting is indeed natural to us. Our bodies are designed to fast. They’re designed to store food in times of availability and to release it in times of scarcity. To take it even further, fasting is actually an inherent part of the daily human experience. After all, we don’t consume any calories when we’re sleeping. The term ‘breakfast’ is an acknowledgement of the fact that to eat our first meal of the day, is to ‘break’ the ‘fast’ we undergo every night. Therefore, it seems fair to say that people across the world have been fasting on a daily basis since the dawn of man.
So, what is intermittent fasting exactly? In a nutshell, it involves dividing our time between periods of eating and periods of not eating; thereby narrowing our window of calorie consumption. Intermittent fasting comes in several forms. The most popular and recommended form, especially for beginners, is the ‘16:8’ principle. This consists of a 16-hour fast followed by an 8-hour resumption of eating. Healthy eating, ideally! The ‘16:8’ approach is simply an extension of our usual night-time fast and, for this reason, is often considered the easiest method to achieve and maintain. Another approach is the ‘5:2’ principle, which involves fasting for 2 full days of the week. Non-consecutive days that is! There is also ‘alternate-day fasting’ and the ‘1 meal per day’ method to consider. The description is in the name with these last two!
Studies conducted over the last few years on the health outcomes of intermittent fasting have been very promising. As with exercise, intermittent fasting is essentially a form of short-term mild stress that comes with significant benefits for the body. The brain in particular profits greatly from being challenged in this way, promoting the production of neurotrophic factors, thereby aiding the growth and survival of neurons. Alongside increased mental sharpness, some of the other suggested benefits include lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevention/control of diabetes, and the most sought-after benefit of all… Weight-loss.
When we eat, some of the energy that our body receives from the food is stored in the liver, as glycogen. When we fast, however, after maybe 10 hours or so of not eating, our glycogen reserves drop. At this point, our body begins tapping into our energy stores. Stores of fat! During this process, fat is broken down and converted into additional metabolic fuel in the liver. Thus, the body enters a state known as ‘ketosis’ in which it begins to burn fat for energy. In addition to the state of ketosis induced, weight-loss is aided quite simply by the fact that, when fasting, we are going for longer periods of time without consuming calories. Also, it is believed that the narrower eating-window will result in us eating less than we otherwise would. There is a two-pronged effect here, spending more time not eating than we did, and having less time to eat when we do. And if all this wasn’t enough, the increase in growth hormones and the reduction in insulin already go a long way to helping our body lose weight.
Though intermittent fasting programmes can be ambiguous about what to consume outside of fasting times, dietitians recommend eating pure and nutrient-dense foods in order to get the most out of the process. Feasting or indulging in junk food between fasts will only serve to counteract the benefits! For this reason, intermittent fasting is the perfect accompaniment to a new or pre-existing diet. In fact, many experts claim that this is the optimal way of dieting; complimenting and aiding our body’s transition to a purer state and healthier lifestyle. And it works both ways. The healthier and more nutrient-rich our eating regime, the more comfortably and seamlessly we can adopt intermittent fasting as a future tool to periodically cleanse and reset our body, and maintain mastery over our health in the long-run.
Our diets work great with intermittent fasting, we recommend intermittent fasting with our Keto diet for best results.