You have no doubt heard about intermittent fasting diets before. You may have heard about it from a friend, a colleague, or maybe the heading of an article that you saw on the front of a health magazine or online. At first, I never bothered to pick up that magazine or click on the link because, let’s face it, not eating anything for long periods of time does not sound enticing. However, the reality is that many people from all over the world have been benefiting significantly from intermittent fasting diets.
An intermittent fasting diet is an excellent way to lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight, and gain maximum health benefits without having to purchase diet tablets or follow strange concoctions that may do more harm than good. So, what is a intermittent fasting diet and how will it be beneficial for you? This article will take you through the fasting diet and will explain why it is beneficial for you to consider this approach – the natural way.
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Intermittent Fasting Explained
Fasting in general reduces your hormones such as insulin. Fasting also increases HGH and norephinephrine which makes the body fat you have stored more accessible to burn for energy needed by the body: this means you lose body fat. Implementing fasting helps prevent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and inflammation in the body. It may also help protect us against Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and helps prolong our lives. The main concept of fasting is to abstain from eating food for a specific period of time. These fasting periods are often referred to as cleanses, purifications, or detoxifications.
Intermittent fasting is a diet regimen that cycles between short periods of fasting and periods of unrestricted eating. The fasting period may involve either no food at all or foods that offer a significant reduction in calories. There are many different ways of incorporating the intermittent fasting diet and it is always best to choose one that suits your body and your lifestyle. The three main diets include:
Alternate-day-fasting: This is an approach where you only eat your normal diet every other day. The days in between where you are fasting, you are allowed to consume just 1 quarter of your normal daily calorie intake amount in one meal only.
The 5:2 method: Five days of eating your normal diet are allowed, it is then followed by two consecutive days of eating only 400 to 500 calories per day. The process is then repeated.
The 16:8 method: This approach is used every day and follows the basic rule of not eating for 16 hours and then being allowed to eat for 8 hours. An example of this would be waking up and only being allowed to eat between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm. This is the method I use and have been accustomed to it for several years now. My body is so used to it that I do not even see it as fasting anymore.
The diet sounds daunting and it is going to need your self-discipline if you want to be successful. Remember to consult your doctor if are taking any medication or have any medical conditions, and stop the diet immediately if you start feeling sick. Start slowly and keep it simple and easy. Your body needs to adjust to the new changes in your eating regime. Start by eating your usual meals during your eating window. In my own experience, intermittent fasting works best for me when I combine a low carb, high-fat diet of natural whole foods. I suggest that you implement fasting on weekdays because they are more structured with a daily routine than weekends. You will soon start to see what works best for you and follow the intermittent fasting diet that suits your lifestyle.
The benefits of intermittent fasting
Although intermittent fasting may not be for everyone, more people should follow it so that they can reap the many benefits it offers. Below are just a few of the benefits of this great fasting diet:
It is a fact that body fat is food energy that has been stored away in our bodies. If we stop eating, our body will start to consume its own fat for the energy it needs. This is the core of intermittent fasting, it allows the body to use its stored energy, thus burning excess fat. Intermittent fasting causes an increase in metabolic rate which in turn assists you to burn calories and reduces the amount of food that you eat.
Fasting leads to lower levels of glucose and therefore forces the body to use fat instead of glucose as a source of energy. The fat is turned into ketones which changes your body chemistry and improves your overall health and helps you lose weight. Further studies also suggest that fasting intermittently causes less muscle loss than continuous calorie restrictions.
Low blood pressure
Recent studies have shown that intermittent fasting is associated with low blood pressure and lowered levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and increased levels of good (HDL) cholesterol. Intermittent fasting causes an increase of BDNF factor: this results in lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure because the parasympathetic system is activated. The result of weight loss from using this fasting diet also contributes to low blood pressure because less weight is putting less pressure on the body and its overall functions.
Do you want to live a longer life? I know I do! Research has shown that fasting may have the ability to extend our life span. Regular fasting eases inflammation which has anti-aging benefits and can even improve memory function.
Calorie restriction helps to combat aging if you reduce your calorie intake by up to 40% over an extended period of time. Research that has been conducted on both humans and animals has brought to light the many mechanisms involved in anti-aging that were previously unknown.
Activation of cellular cleansing
It is a fact that when a human being intermittently fasts the cells in the body start a process called autophagy. This is a waste removal process that breaks down and metabolizes abnormal proteins that build up inside our cells over time. This process serves as protection against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and even cancer. Cleansing your body and allowing your digestive system to rest results in increased energy and stamina, a clearer mind, restful sleep, and clearer skin.
Deprivation of nutrients during fasting is one of the main activators of autophagy. It is important to remember that as we eat, our insulin goes up and glucagon goes down, however when we practice intermittent fasting and do not eat, our insulin goes down and glucagon goes up. Glucagon is what stimulates autophagy, therefore making fasting one of the best ways to boost autophagy.
Improved mental clarity and concentration
Human brains benefit significantly from fasting as well as CR (caloric restriction). When you exercise and practice CR there is an increased electrical level in the brain. This improves our memory significantly.
Amazingly, the level of fasting insulin seems to have a direct effect on memory. It has been proven that the lower you can get your fasting insulin, the more your memory seems to improve!
Am I too old to start intermittent fasting?
If you have a high caloric need then you should avoid the intermittent fasting diet since it promotes burning calories and requires a low-caloric intake whilst in the ‘eating’ phase. As you age, the risk of developing many different types of age-related diseases increases, and your caloric need also increases, this means that intermittent fasting is not a recommended diet for the elderly, especially if they are not over-weight. In some cases, intermittent fasting for women over 50 could serve as an invaluable tool for weight loss and will not necessarily minimize their chance of developing age-related illnesses. Studies are still exploring this and more research is needed to supplement the restricted age for this diet.
Supplements to take while fasting
Additional supplementation is always a good idea, regardless of diet, as we are already not getting all the sufficient nutrients, vitamins, and minerals our body needs to function optimally. Be Always on the lookout for non-GMO products, and stay away from chemically enhanced supplements.
Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B and C are ideal to take when fasting. These supplements are absorbed best on an empty stomach.
Supplements such as amino acids, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and copper are best to take on your non-fasting days. Unfortunately, these supplements can make you feel a little nauseous if not taken with food as they are absorbed best after food has been eaten.
Avoid foods that contain sugars and refined grains. Instead, keep your diet natural and eat fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
In the end, your body isn’t starved!
Life is all about balance, our bodies need to be balanced to effectively function and maintain their overall health. This is the same for eating, supplementing, and fasting, it should be balanced. Remember, when you are not eating, you are fasting. People around the world are starting to adapt to the new diet of intermittent fasting, whether it is for weight loss or other health-related issues. Ultimately the success of this fasting diet is based on how well you follow the intermittent fasting plan. You will not starve, you will not feel weak, in fact, quite the opposite: you will feel revitalized and energetic, especially when taking the most natural approach. With so many benefits available, why wouldn’t you want to try an intermittent fasting diet?
Leave a comment below, I would love to hear your opinion on intermittent fasting or the amazing results you have experienced.
Until next time