Many of you have probably heard of intermittent fasting, and wondered what it is and what are the benefits. Basically it is about going for periods of time without taking any (or restricted) calories in. This can be done by significantly reducing your calories for several days a week or not eating for a period of time in a day.
One of the most popular durations of fasting is 16 hours, This is the type that I find easiest to follow. Now it may seem like a long time but if you fast from dinner, skip breakfast and have a late lunch, it is much easier than you think. Many of our cravings food come from our eating routine, and we often feel like eating when we are not hungry. However, when you know you are going to fast for 16 hours, it becomes easier.
What are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
- Your body switches your primary energy source to body fat. Millions of years of evolution hasn’t gone to waste, your metabolism does not slow down in the absence of a meal or two, it switches to a plentiful source of energy, body fat! Did you know even a relatively lean man has well over 100,000kcal of stored energy, and a marathon will cost you only 2,800 kcal!
- Better regulation of critical hormones:
- Insulin – Insulin blood levels drop, enabling you to better utilise body fat as energy
- Human Growth Hormone (HGR) – is increased promote fat metabolism and muscle growth
- Cellular repair and gene expression – the body has more resources available when it’s not digesting for essential maintenance and repair of cells. A process called autophagy removes cellular debris
- Insulin resistance – decreases insulin resistance lowering your chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
- Reduces Oxidative stress and Inflammation – fasting can improve your resistance to oxidative stress which can contribute to many chronic diseases and cellular aging.
- Improves brain function – many people report having clearer thinking, and fasting has also been shown to decrease risk and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other neurological-degenerative diseases.
Here are some hint and tips for intermittent fasting:
- If you have diabetes or other medical condition you should first check with your doctor before trying this
- The 16 hours can be at any time of day, but I prefer to fast after dinner. So if you finish dinner by 8.30pm, all you need to do is wait until after 12pm (next day) for lunch. Foods not containing calories or sweeteners are allowed, plain tea and coffee (no milk or sugar) is ok!
- Pick a day where you have a few things on in the morning, it will be easier to keep yourself busy
- With practice you should be able to exercise at normal intensities during a fast and not feel any more fatigue, in fact many people report having more energy!
- Drink plenty of water
- If 16 hours sounds too long, try for 14 hours for a few days to get used to it, then build up to 16-18 hours
Daniel Dittmar, Exercise Physiologist and Head Instructor
If you are planning to start on this intermittent fasting journey, all the best and we look forward to hearing positive results from you