Fasting is a scary word, isn’t it? We’re used to hearing it to describe the insane things models and bodybuilders will do right before a show to make themselves look like godly figures of muscle (and possibly collapsing on the stage floor). However, there is a much healthier and less drastic approach to fasting that benefits more than the superficial look of your body. It’s called Intermittent fasting.
To understand how the diet works, let’s take a trip down memory lane to sixth-grade biology class…
When you eat food, your body takes about three to five hours to digest and process the nutrients you just ingested. While this is a very important step in the digestive process, it makes it much harder to burn body fat because your insulin levels are spiked. Once your body is done processing your last meal (post-absorptive state), your insulin levels are much lower for about eight to twelve hours, making it much easier to burn fat. –James Clear. However, with our normal eating patterns, for most that is 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), it’s rare that we enter this fat burning stage, or ketosis, for very long. That’s where the fasting comes into play. By prolonging the period of time in which your body is processing and burning through all of the calories consumed during your last meal, you’re able to have more time to live in that happy state of allowing your body to burn fat for you.
There are many benefits to intermittent fasting. According to John Hopkins neuroscientist, Mark Mattson, Ph. D., “Many things happen during intermittent fasting that can protect organs against chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, even inflammatory bowel disease and many cancers.” – John Hopkins Medicine
“Wow, I get all of that protection and I can lose weight? Where do I sign??”
For the uninitiated, there are actually many different approaches to intermittent fasting. The baseline is designating a period of time in which you abstain from eating to allow your body to burn fat. Many people use the daily approach, commonly referred to at the 16:8 method: That is, restricting your eating time to one six to eight hour period a day. Or, you could try the 5:2 approach: Eating regularly five days out of the week and fasting for the other two days. Remember, it’s less about what you eat and more about when you eat it.
Before starting intermittent fasting, it is important to make sure that it is healthy for you. These eating habits may not be suitable for children and teenagers under the age of eighteen, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with diabetes or blood sugar problems, or those with a history with eating disorders. If you have any concerns, you can always talk to your doctor or a wellness provider before making the diet change.
See? Fasting doesn’t have to be this confusing or daunting buzzword. As long as you take a safe and thoughtful approach and listen to your body, intermittent fasting can help you understand your digestive process better and become an overall healthier individual.