What is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting is one of the oldest documented practices in history. It was used as a Religious practice and also as a healing method. The Bible, Qur’an, Egyptian Scrolls, Celtic Texts, Asian History Texts just to name a few places this is documented. Cultures from all over the world have been practice fasting for generations. Fasting and Starving are two different things. Starving is have no access to food. Having no choice by not to eat. Fasting is done with purpose and choice. May it be Religious reasons or health reasons.
Intermittent Fasting is eating and fasting in cycles. It is a pattern of eating and is not considered a diet. It does not specify what foods to eat but when to eat them. There are a few different ways to go about it. There is the Lean gains approach. This is when an individual eats for eight hours and fasts for sixteen hours. An example of this would be not eating until noon and not eating after eight in the evening. There is also the Eat-Stop-Eat method. This is a twenty four hour fast twice a week. The days are separated during the week. An example of this would be once someone finishes their dinner. They will not eat again until the following evenings dinner. Another way that is similar to the Eat-Stop-Eat approach is 5:2 method. This is the same idea of picking two non consecutive days in your week to “fast”. Only with this one you consume between 500 – 600 calories on those days. What you eat while not fasting is up to you. But if you are over eating unhealthy foods during this time. You will not see the benefits of doing these fast.
What Happens During Intermittence Fasting?
Our body is constantly in two states. Fed state and fasting state. When we are in a fed state we are consuming food. When we consume foods our Insulin levels rise as a result. Insulin is a Hormone that is made in our pancreas. Its role in our body is to allow glucose (sugar) molecules to move into our cells for storage and future use. When we eat foods that contain Carbohydrates (our bodies number one source of energy) our body breaks it down into Glucose sends it to the blood stream and uses it for fuel. If we don’t use all of the available glucose in our blood stream while doing activities or because we ate more than we needed. The insulin moves the glucose into cells for storage. This stored glucose can than go through a process called Lipogenesis. Lipogenesis is the process of stored glucose being turned into fat in our bodies. So when we are in a fed state our body will store all unused glucose and eventually turn it into fat.
In a fasting state this process goes in reverse. When we don’t eat food our body decreases our Insulin levels. When our Insulin levels drop they are replaced with the hormone Glucagon. Glucagon is the Hormone in charge of releasing stored glucose and fats in the cell. When our body is fasting for a period of time the glucose and fat released from our cells. These are our sources of fuel in a fast state. We burn the released fat and glucose for energy. You can see the attraction of being in a fast state for those trying to lose weight and burn excess storage (weight) in the body.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
A recent trend in weight loss is Intermittent Fasting. After explaining what are body does in the fasting state you can see how this works. We burn stored fats and sugars for fuel. nd at the same time following fasting schedules you are naturally consume less calories in your day.
Along with Glucagon there is another hormone that is released called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a fat burning hormone we have naturally in our bodies. There are also studies that state our natural metabolic rate increases 3.6-14% when doing schedules fasting. Along with a study saying on average people loose 3-8% of their body weights in 3-24 weeks of intermittent fasting. It is also less likely to loose muscle mass while intermittent fasting than a ” regular diet”.
When our Insulin levels drop. It does not just benefit weight loss in an individual. It helps lower our blood sugar levels about 3-6%. This in combination of the lowered insulin levels is a good way to prevent Type 2 Diabetes. One of the reasons fasting has become so popular recently is it studied benefits in Diabetes prevention and those that are diagnosed. There are even studies happening currently stating that it may even reverse Type 2 Diabetes.
Chronic Inflammation in our body is one of the main reasons for chronic disease later in life. The process of burning excess fats and sugars in the body is one way to lessen naturally occurring inflammation.
When we are fasting it gives our digestive system time to rest. Our digestive system takes up a lot of our energy throughout the day. When we rest our digestive system during a fast we free up energy to be used in different ways in our body. One of these way is the removal of waste. Our cells in our body have a natural metabolic process. This means they develop, grow, function, die and are replaced with new ones. Its a natural cycle that is constantly happening in our bodies at all times. The build up of these dead cells can cause inflammation in our bodies. When we give our body the extra energy to do so. It processes them and transfers them for waste removal. This one of the many ways fasting help our bodies from going through the process of inflammation.
Intermittent Fasting makes the body go through many different processes. One of which is lower levels of Low Density Lipoproteins, “bad” cholesterol. This also helps lower blood triglycerides. As stated earlier it lowers internal inflammation, lower levels of blood sugar and insulin. All of these factors if at high levels contribute to Chronic Heart Disease. The fasting helps to keep these levels controlled and on the lower healthier side. So intermittent fast indirectly helps to prevent Chronic Heart Disease.
Intermittent Fasting helps our brain health in a few ways. It help the release of the hormone BDNF. This hormone helps in the growth of new nerve cells. Replacing old ones with healthy new cells. There are also studies currently happening in relation to Alzheimer’s. They think that it may help slow or prevent this cognitive disease in individuals that practice intermittence fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Might Not Be For Everyone
There are a few reasons one might want to avoid intermittent fasting. You should always consult a doctor about fasting if you have any health concerns and are about starting to fast. Here is a list of a few health conditions. If you have any of the following issues Intermittent Fasting may not be for you: Underweight, History of Disordered Eating, trying to have a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding. Diabetes, problems regulating blood sugar levels, low blood pressure or on certain medications. Menstruating women should be very cautious of Intermittent Fasting, they should be very mindful of their cycles. If there are any changes or absence of period they should stop fasting and consult doctor.
What Can You Have While Fasting
Even though it is called a fast you can still consume certain things. You can have water, coffee and tea. Coffee is actually helpful because it helps with hunger cues. You can add a very small about of milk or cream. Non-dairy alternative would be better. It is better to not add any sugar as it will stimulate insulin. If you must have something sweat in your coffee or tea. Make sure it is a natural sugar like honey or maple syrup. And very very small amount. As soon as you elevate your insulin levels the fast is over.
A lot of athletes who do intermittent fasting will do cardio or strength training while they are fasting. This is not for everyone and is not recommended for those new to fasting. This kicks up the burning of stored fats and sugars in the body. It is common for these athletes to consume a caffeine source (coffee or tea) or BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) before activity. Gives them the extra kick they need.
Intermittent Fasting is not for everyone. I think it is very important to understand how the process works in your body. If any of these process may affect your current health I strongly recommend talking to your doctor before attempting to do a fast. Knowledge is power and the more we know about health trends the more we can make informed heathy choices about them.
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