It has impacted the practice of intermittent fasting (IF). It has impacted IF to the point that most people never allow their bodies to be in a fasted state. If you ask most people to go one day, let alone two or three days without eating they will look at you like you are crazy. So what is IF and how can it benefit us in today's day and age? Intermittent fasting is the practice of going periods of time without eating any food. Fasts can be anywhere from 16 – 72 hours. Let me explain the benefits of fasting and introduce you to a couple types of IF that can easily be incorporated into your current routine.
With our ability to access food almost anytime we want, we almost always have food somewhere in our digestive system. This means that our digestive tract is always working at breaking foods down and absorbing nutrients. It is never really getting a break from digestion and absorption to engage in some self-healing. Some of the food we eat causes inflammation in the digestive system, which will then impact our body’s ability to absorb food. This, in turn can lead to nutrient and mineral deficiencies. I.F. can also lead to a stronger and more efficient immune system, which 70% of which is found in our digestive tract. Professor Valter Longo, Professor of Bio-gerontology at the University of California, tells us that when you stop eating, the body uses up stored glucose, fat and ketones, and also recycles worn out and damaged immune cells. Once you resume eating, your white blood cell count gets a boost. The result is similar to a trigger switch that regenerates brand new white blood cells to invigorate and reinforce your entire immune system.
The type of intermittent fast that I think has been the easiest for my clients to incorporate is a 16/8 fast. With a 16/8 fast you fast for 16 hours and then consume your daily calories within 8 hours. Another recommendation along with this type of fast includes doing “fasted workouts” toward the end of the fast cycle. For example, if you eat dinner at 7:00 p.m, your fast will last until 11:00 a.m the following morning. If you able to workout toward the end of that fast, like around 10:00 a.m, you will see the most benefits. The important thing to remember with this fast is you need to still consume an adequate amount of calories within the feed period. This part is hard for some people, they end up eating a lot less, which may or may not be a good thing. Also remember that it is the quality of the calories you are consuming, not just the total number. You can do this fast 2-4 days of the week, try it out and see what works best for you.
Another type of fast, which is often referred to as a warrior diet, follows a 20/4 fast/feed cycle. With this fast you would fast for 18-20 hours and then consume your daily intake within 4-6 hours. You can follow the same strategy when it comes to working out, work out close to the end of the fast. Again, make sure you are eating enough quality calories within the 4-6 hour feed cycle. If you are not eating enough during that time you will probably start to feel tired and lethargic. You can incorporate this fast into our program 2-4 times a week as well.
The last type I am going to point out may actually be the easiest type of fast to implement. It is a 24 hour fast once to twice a week. It sounds like it would be hard to go a whole day without eating, but it comes easier than you think. This type of fast also requires no thought when it comes to fast/feed hours. Pretty simple, just wake up one day and don't eat all day, wake up the next day and eat.
Some of the proposed benefits of intermittent fasting include:
• Blood lipids (including decreased triglycerides/ LDL cholesterol)
• Blood pressure
• Markers of inflammation – which can reduce risk of a whole host of stuff
• Oxidative stress
• Risk of cancer
• Cellular turnover and repair
• Fat burning later in fast
• Growth hormone release later in fast
• Metabolic rate later in fast
• Appetite control
• Blood sugar control
• Cardiovascular function
• Neurogenesis (growth and development of nervous tissue) and neuronal plasticity
In my personal experience and opinion, I think intermittent fasting can be a hugely beneficial addition to anybody's health and wellness plan. For the most part it doesn't require too much thought, just timing. When I first incorporated fasting into my regimen I noticed a difference within the first week. I decreased some body fat, I had more energy, I didn't feel as bloated after eating certain things and mentally I felt that my workouts were more effective. Remember, everybody's experience is going to be different and always talk to your doctor if you are on medications that could be impacted by not eating,