It’s that time for the year again for big family gatherings, indulging in delicious meals, and New Years Resolution plans.Tackle 2019 with one of the best lifestyle adjustments out there, INTERMITTENT FASTING. Intermittent fasting has gained tremendous popularity in health and fitness as a way to lose fat, live longer, and even build muscle. Unlike many popular diets, intermittent fasting has backing of scientific research, including massive 2017 study analysis by the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
Always check with your doctor before starting a diet. Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, including people with type 1 diabetes, pregnant women, lactating women, and eating disorders.
Most people have heard of the term fasting. Most will recognize fasting from Ramadan, which requires people who follow the Muslim faith to be abstinent of food and water from sunrise to sunset. Intermittent fasting is very similar.
We’d like to go over our favorite intermittent fasting approach, the 16-8 method. The approach is to consume no more than 50 calories for 16 hours, then consume your required calories within an 8-hour window. Ideally you want to consume no calories, studies have shown that even 50 calories can cause small metabolic processes to occur. We have been through this process and understand how hard it is to keep a 0 calorie maximum, we have personally seen no negative effects with consuming at most 50 calories. The intermittent fasting process is repeated and done every day, 16 hours of no food consumption and 8 hours of eating.
The exceptions are: water, coffee, sugar-free gum, and zero-calorie sweeteners. Diet sodas have zero calories but venture away from those types of drinks.
16:8 Method- Where you fast for 16 hours a day, but are free to eat whatever you want in the other eight hours (please eat nutrient-dense foods). You can choose your eating window. For example, because we work night shift as Registered Nurses, we stop eating at midnight and fast until 4 p.m.
5:2 Method- This involves eating normally 5 days a week, while restricting calories to 500-600 on two days of the week.
Eat-Stop-Eat- This method involves a 24-hour fast once or twice a week.
Here are some benefits of intermittent fasting and how it can affect your life:
Intermittent fasting is said to promote fat burn and boost your metabolism. This effect is produced do to the various changes in hormones in the body. The key hormones being - insulin, growth hormone, and norepinephrine.
The way intermittent fasting indirectly boosts your metabolism is through norepinephrine. During acute starvation, short-term calorie negligence, your body increases norepinephrine levels. Norepinephrine causes an increase in the release of glucose.
We associate a decrease in metabolism when we do not consume calories for long periods of time. When you are unable to consume calories, your body will naturally slow down and decrease its metabolism to adapt.
In intermittent fasting, your metabolism does not decrease because the fasting is short term. It actually increases, you initially put mild stress on the body due to a higher work demand. The increase in workload causes the body to break down fat stores for energy. Before you allow your body to go into starvation mode, you transition over to eating. Once you start eating your body has a natural decrease in stress because it is now getting calories from an outside source. The body adjusts back to your baseline, slowly raising the threshold and becoming more efficient.
During the fast insulin levels go down while growth hormone is being increased, both resulting in fat burn. Norepinephrine is shot into fat cells breaking them down to fatty acids. Fatty acids are then directly used for energy. The body is not getting calories from an outside source so it is forced to use your adipose tissue as energy.
The beauty of this is the fact your body will not starve itself, which would causes a break down of muscle for energy. You are protected from muscle break down because you will be getting calories from food after the fasting period, your body isn’t able to react fast enough to flip into muscle break down. The result is you reaping all the benefits of ketosis without any significant muscle break down.
One of the main ways intermittent fasting boosts your immune system is a concept called autophagy. Autophagy is the process of programmed cell death. It is also the ability to find damaged cells and destroy them. During fasting, the body is breaking down glucose, fat, and ketones for energy. On the immunological level, it is also breaking down white blood cells for new cell formation. White blood cell is a general term used to associate all our immune cells. Our body naturally breaks down damaged cells and uses those components to create new mature white blood cells for the future.
Intermittent fasting also decreases oxidative stress and inflammation. Long-term effects of oxidation and inflammation increase the risks of developing cancer and other chronic diseases. A decrease in chronic disease, in turn, helps decrease the workload of the immune system. Cell regeneration is intensified during intermittent fasting. While intermittent fasting the human body is always in optimal shape.
The origins of fasting came from philosophers. Their intention was to increase mental capacity and function. Those Greek thinkers found a correlation; fasting increased their cognition and provided a cleaner more efficient way of thinking. Clearly, it worked because we now refer to them as philosophers. You take the work and time needed to consume food and put that effort into brain function and mental processing. This is also aided by autophagy, except this time with brain cells. Intermittent fasting may even regenerate damaged neurons, which is what neurologists are currently researching. The same way you clean your immune system you can cleanse your brain, intern leading to increased mental acuity and cognitive ability.
Intermittent fasting can increase a hormone called BDNF. Studies show that The chemical Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is decreased in depression and other brain issues. An increase in BDNF can make you feel better on a neurological level. During Intermittent fasting more of the BDNF proteins are present in your brain so the likelihood of you getting depressed or even sad should decrease.
How many times have you been hungry at an inconvenient time? You consistently put off food because you are too busy to eat. Intermittent fasting allows you to be on a schedule. The human body adapts to this schedule, so you are just hungry for those 8 hours. The food eaten during the 8 hour period has to be nutrient-dense, it has to provide for the whole daily value. If you consume empty calories, like processed food, the junk food won't hold you over and you will continuously fail. You will be struggling with fasting. The cravings developed will be for healthy foods because the body knows what foods provide the most nutrition. Simply, you'll feel better because nutrient-dense food will be going into a clean body.
Intermittent fasting leads to higher productivity. With intermittent fasting, you will be better at planning because you are already on a schedule. If you can mentally change your hunger and cravings, you can change any aspect of your life. The power of Self-discipline.
When starting intermittent fasting you will feel the transition of low energy and low focus sometimes due to the fact of your body adjusting. For most of us, our primary source of energy is carbohydrates in foods we eat. When you consume calories all day, your blood sugar goes up and down like a roller coaster. If you allow your body to have a 16-hour break from food, it will instead start using your fat for energy. This is a process that happens slowly and steadily with no rise and fall of blood sugar, ensuring that you have more lasting energy, a better mood, and even increased brain function.
To combat low energy try drinking black coffee. Coffee will improve concentration and energy transitioning into fasting. We also use coffee as a pre-workout before the gym. To combat low focus try mindfulness and meditation techniques.
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