A Simple Guide to Intermittent Fasting
There is a lot spoken about intermittent fasting these days and in fact it is a trending subject. The truth is that it is one of the oldest fasting practices but because it gave benefits of weight loss and inches loss, it got really popular! Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have cafes or restaurants in abundance like we have today. They were used to long periods of fasting. When you see it like that, our body is already geared for fasting from our ancestors. It is only our environment and commercial marketing of fast food and packaged food that changed our habits.
I have been doing intermittent fasting for years now and it feel fabulous inside out. For those who don’t know, intermittent fasting isn’t about what food we should eat or avoid, rather it is about when and what time we should eat our meals. It can be better described as an eating pattern.
The benefits go way beyond weight loss and I want to quickly put those here that makes me encourage all my clients to make intermittent fasting part of their lifestyle and not just a short period.
1) It increases blood flow to human growth hormone that is responsible for muscle building and fat burning.
2) It reduces insulin resistance that helps our body use glucose as energy.
3) It lowers the risk of diabetes type 2.
4) It reduces inflammation and oxidative stress that is responsible for so many chronic diseases.
5) It induces cell repair by removing waste from the cell.
6) It helps with longevity because our system remains youthful for longer.
7) It is really good for the brain.
So regardless of weight loss being your goal or not, there are several reasons intermittent fasting should be considered. The most common ones are 16 hours fast and 24 hours fast. We see them play out a lot in religious festivals and they are used to cleanse the system and the energy.
The right way to do fasting (there are various methods) is by making sure:
- In the fasting period, no food is consumed.
- You can try either a water fast or a non-water fast. While a non-water fast can significantly help, it can be a difficult feat. As per your preference, you can consume water during the fast period.
- Medication and herbs with water can be made an exception.
- Black coffee or black tea without sugar or sweeteners is alright to consume.
There are 3 popular intermittent fasting methods:
1) 16/8: This when the gap between tonight’s meal and next day’s meal is 16 hours. Usually the Ayurveda way is to have the last meal by 6 PM (around sunset) and the next day’s meal is at 10 am. However, this might be tough for many people because of lifestyle and working hours so I would say just focus on the 16 hours gap.
2) 24 hours fast: This is an eat stop eat method which is done once or twice a week where in one doesn’t eat for example from dinner one day to dinner next day.
3) 5:2: This is restricted fasting where in 2 days a week one consumes only 500 calories to give the gut a break. These 2 days are not back-to-back and one has to eat normally the other days of the week.
I find 16/8 easy to implement as a lifestyle choice but it is best to do what you feel you can start with. For me intermittent fasting is form of self-care for my gut and digestive system that needs a break like all of us do in life and I am glad I can give my body this break in form of fasting every single day.
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