What is Intermittent Fasting and What are the Benefits?
Intermittent fasting is one of the trendiest diets in the health and wellness world today, and means that you don’t eat for a period of time each day or week. I fast one day a week, every Friday when my husband is out of town and no one is trying to get me to meet them in a bar or restaurant. But is it right for you?
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is a conscious eating style that alternates between periods of consuming foods at certain times and then fasting at other times.
Harvard School of Public Health says that There’s a ton of incredibly promising intermittent fasting (IF) research done on fat rats. They lose weight, their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars improve… but they’re rats. Studies in humans, almost across the board, have shown that IF is safe and effective, but really no more effective than any other diet. In addition, many people find it difficult to fast.
But a growing body of research suggests that the timing of the fast is key, and can make IF a more realistic, sustainable, and effective approach for weight loss, as well as for diabetes prevention.
The length of time you fast can vary depending on your goals and capabilities.
Here are some of the top benefits of fasting:
- Slows down aging
- Has anti-inflammatory properties
- Speeds up weight loss
- Increase fat-burning potential
- Improves mental concentration and brain health
- Activates autophagy
- Increases energy
- Improves gut health
- Improves heart health
- Extends lifespan
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Autophagy: After an extended period of time fasting, the body reaches a point of autophagy. This is the way our bodies get rid of dead or dysfunctional cells that could wreak havoc on our bodies if not properly eliminated.
Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells.
This is the body’s way of turning back the clock and creating younger cells!
benefits of autophagy include:
- removing toxic proteins from the cells that are attributed to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
- recycling residual proteins
- providing energy and building blocks for cells that could still benefit from repair
- on a larger scale, it prompts regeneration and healthy cells
If you’re interested in trying to stimulate autophagy in your body, I recommend you start by adding fasting into your routine.
2. Reduces cell damage from inflammation and oxidative stress – Inflammation is a key culprit in almost every disease. Inflammation creates toxins which create disease.
It’s no secret that oxidative stress can cause aging and chronic disease. When food is metabolized by the body harmful substances known as “free radicals” are produced during the process. These molecules, such as hydrogen peroxide, are known to have damaging properties to cellular health. The body’s resistance to this oxidative damage can be enhanced through intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting on a regular basis can lower chronic inflammation and ultimately lead to living a healthier, longer life!
3. Detoxification – The detoxification process is ignited through fasting. Even with the best intentions of clean eating, our bodies can become victims of toxic overload which can lead to gas, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, heartburn, stiff or achy joints, heaviness, brain fog and lethargy.
It makes sense that if you reduce the number of toxins that enter the body, it is easier for your body to more efficiently remove the toxins that are already there.
Fasting stimulates the production of many digestive enzymes that aid in the detox process, resulting in a reduction of inflammation – the cause of so many chronic diseases!
4. Weight Loss – Eating less each day, keeping track of what you are eating, and learning to control your appetite are all key factors in successfully losing weight. However, we may employ all of those things and still not lose weight. Often due to the build up of digestive toxins, we become less efficient as fat burners. Then it seems, no matter how much or how little we eat – we pile on the pounds.
Metabolism can be increased up to 14% through fasting (even more with frequent fasting), this can increase the leptin hormone which facilitates weight loss. Fasting one day a week helps control my weight long-term.
How I Fast
- Find the right Fasting Method for you – I love just focusing on one day a week. Now this does not mean I eat nothing. I will sip on herbal teas, and a root veggie broth that I make. See recipe below.
Root Veggie Simmer
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 2-4 hours. A crock pot is perfect for this.
- Strain the broth from the veggies - leaving the broth and throw out the veggie guts. They are not good for composting at this point.
- Pour into a thermos and sip throughout the day
- Can be stored in the freezer and used the following Fast Day.
2. Give yourself time to adjust – It’s normal to have hunger pains and headaches and it’s normal to even cave in and eat when you’re not supposed to. My first Friday of Fasting, I ate a slice of toast and had quite a headache. However, the next day – I felt really energized. But use those mistakes as learning opportunities; figure out why you didn’t stick with the goal and what steps you can take to prevent it from happening again. It doesn’t mean that fasting is not for you.
3. Stay hydrated – Drink lots of boiled warm water and enjoy some herbal teas like Tulsi. This curbs the appetite which lessens the chances of you breaking the fast. And hydration has plenty of benefits all on its own!
4. Eat the right foods that will sustain you – While intermittent fasting isn’t restrictive on what you eat (only when), be sure you are eating enough protein and healthy fats that will prevent hunger pangs later and give your body the power it needs to sustain this lifestyle. Eating processed, sugary foods isn’t going to help you reach your goals!
Not everyone should fast. If you are depleted, just coming off an illness, recently had Covid – are pregnant or nursing – fasting may not be right for you yet.
However, if you are looking to give your body a healthy reset, slow down aging, and fight off chronic illness and disease, maybe it’s time for you to give intermittent fasting a try.
If you join The Holistic Highway, you can get a personalized intermittent fasting plan tailored to your lifestyle and needs. Intermittent fasting for women will look different than for men. The same goes for different age groups, BMI ranges, etc. There is no one size fits all with fasting. Want to know if Fasting is right for you at this time? Schedule a Complimetary Consultation with me.