The ABC’s of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting is the voluntary avoidance of food during specific windows of time. Fasting occurs when there is food available, but you control when you consume it.  Fasting can be from a few hours to a few days and can be started and stopped at any point. Our bodies have evolved to be able to go without food for many hours, or even several days or longer.

In prehistoric times, before humans learned to farm, they were hunters and gatherers who evolved to survive for long periods without eating. Even 50 years ago, it was easier to maintain a healthy weight because there weren’t as many items to keep us up in the evening like the internet, smartphones, television, access to work, etc. People stopped eating because they went to bed, and people were outside working and playing and getting more exercise. Portions of food were also smaller then as well.

1. What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting has been studied in both humans and animals for many years. Naturally, most humans fast when they are sleeping. They go for prolonged periods without eating. Fasting is the act of deciding not to eat and consistently making this habit.

The beauty of fasting is that you can do it as you feel it works for your body. Fasting is the voluntary avoidance of food for spiritual, health, or other reasons. It is best done by someone who is not underweight and has enough stored body fat to live off. When done correctly, fasting should not cause suffering and certainly never death.

Someone interested in fasting should speak with their doctor before moving forward. It can take two to four weeks before the body becomes accustomed to intermittent fasting. Once you make it through the adjustment period, people tend to stick with fasting because they notice they feel better.

2. Why Intermittent Fast?

Intermittent Fasting Promotes Blood Sugar Control by Reducing Insulin Resistance. Intermittent fasting helps to lower blood sugar and keep it steady.  It is also shown to fight inflammation. There are many diseases in the world, and everyday issues we deal with that begin with inflammation.  Fasting for one month significantly decreased levels of inflammatory markers. It’s also shown to boost brain function.

Fasting is a way to control your food intake and when you are resting. Changing your routine by starting with intermittent fasting will help put you on the road to a healthier lifestyle. It aids in weight loss by limiting calorie intake and boosting metabolism. Fasting is also helpful for your teeth because you keep food and sugars off your teeth for a period of time. 

After hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat. Intermittent fasting works by prolonging the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and begins burning fat.

3. How to Intermittent Fast?

You will begin intermittent fasting when food is available. You can fast for a few hours or a few days. Anytime you are not eating, you are intermittently fasting. Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat.

Intermittent Fasting Plan Examples

  1. 12:12 approach: Fast between dinner and breakfast the next day, a period of approximately 12-14 hours. We as humans can easily make this work since many people go to sleep for most of these hours. An example of this fasting is you stop eating at 6:00 PM and begin to eat again after 6:00 AM.
  2. 8:16 approach: Eat for 8 hours and fast for the other 16 hours. For example, you can eat from 8 AM to 4 PM and then drink water for the remaining hours and go to bed. In the morning, you may have black coffee but nothing that would add calories or change your blood sugar. Most people find it easy to stick with this pattern over the long term. *Most Popular*
  3. 5:2 approach: Eat regularly five days a week, and for the other two days, you limit yourself to one 500 calorie meal. An example of this will be if you eat regularly all week except Monday and Friday, you only have one 500 calorie meal.

It’s good to note that longer periods without food, such as 24, 36, 48, and 72-hour fasting periods, are not necessarily better for you and may be dangerous. Going too long without eating might actually encourage your body to start storing more fat in response to starvation. It can take two to four weeks before the body becomes accustomed to intermittent fasting.

It’s also good to note that during your food intake you are not to over consume or eat extremely caloric foods. Eating lighter, healthier foods is ideal. Suggestions of eating a Mediterranean-style diet are helpful and will keep you satisfied during your fasting times.

The best part about intermittent fasting is that you can do it as you feel it fits into your lifestyle. Unlike dieting, you won’t feel guilty for eating one day past your normal hour. It’s also easy to stay on track with intermittent fasting.