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Wellness with Natalie: Intermittent fasting

I must say that what first intrigued me about intermittent fasting was its difference from other nutritional programmes. Typical “diets” seek to tell you what to eat. Intermittent fasting was not telling us WHAT to eat but telling us NOT to eat. This made me go “hmmmmmm”. Thought you may be intrigued as well.

Let’s start with a brief history lesson. Fasting has been used for thousands of years; Hippocrates the father of medicine used fasting in his healing practices; many traditions and religions use fasting to reach mental clarity among other reasons. So what is it? Fasting is literally not consuming food and drink for a period of time. Intermittent fasting is a cycle of eating and not eating for a specified period of time. Typically someone would be fasting for 12 – 16 hours at a time or perhaps as long as 32 – 36 hours.

Why would we even consider this you may ask? You see in our normal way of eating we are consuming foods containing calories for anywhere from 12 to 16 hour per day, so maybe from 6 am to 6 pm or later. The studies and the science behind all this shows us that anytime you eat a meal or a snack or a drink with calories your body uses the energy you consumed for fuel and also raises insulin levels to store the extra fuel it does not immediately need. Our body actually takes about 3 to 5 hours to digest a meal. We then use the energy from our last meal for another 5 to 7 hours. It is not until 12 hours after our last meal that we begin to burn our stored body fuel.

If we are always eating then we are always digesting and using the energy that we just ate. So our status quo of eating never really allows our body to tap into our energy stores.

Some of the other benefits of using intermittent fasting in your meal planning are that intermittent fasting:

- Promotes increases in Human Growth Hormone. This anti-aging hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and is vital for cell regeneration and maintaining healthy tissue. It also stimulates collagen production, increases muscle strength, improves bone healing and accelerates lipolysis (fat burning).

- Balances cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

- Balances insulin levels and normalizes insulin sensitivity. (Too much insulin in blood stream cause receptor sites to become resistant, this can lead to type 2 diabetes).

- Normalizes leptin (the hormone that tells us we are full and used in body fat regulation) and ghrelin (the hunger hormone)

- Lowers triglycerides (think reduced risk for heart disease).

- Aids in detoxification as taking a break from eating allows your organs involved in detox (liver, colon, kidneys) to rest and reset the system.

- Promotes weight-loss from all the above PLUS…..when you eat your meals more closely together you tend to eat less.

I would definitely recommend that you speak to someone experienced before you test out how your body responds to intermittent fasting.

- Time restricted: 16 hour fast – fast 7pm to 11am, eat 11 am – 7 pm

- Alternate Day: 24 hour fast – eat lunch then fast till the next days lunch, so Monday 2pm last meal until Tuesday at 2pm

Please note that pregnant women or diabetics on medication should NOT attempt intermittent fasting.

Originally published by Loop

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