Lets talk about fasting

The best of all medicines are resting and fasting

Benjamin Franklin

Why fast?

Research has shown benefits of fasting include:

  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite: while fasting people become accustomed to feeling more satisfied with less amount of food.
  • Reset of insulin and glucose: fasting helps the cells become more receptive to the signaling of insulin and therefore your body does not need to produce as much. Insulin is a hormone for fat storage, in excess it can cause inflammation, PCOS, increase metabolic syndrome, ect. In large does it can throw your body out of whack.
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improve heart health
  • Improve brain health helps to turn on neuroplasticity of the brain.
  • Longevity
  • Metabolic Flexibility: this is our ability to go back and forth using different types of fuel in the body such as ketones, proteins, or glucose.
  • Helpful in Cancer Therapy

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term that covers any window of fasting. There isn’t a certain definition of intermittent fasting that is agreed upon. It simply means periods of eating alternating with periods of fasting. Some of the options of fasting include:

Time restricted eating: this narrows the time of the eating window, where there are certain hours where were eating and other times designated to fasting. Every time that we consume something it turns on specific pathways to break down food. Some of the by products of digestion are inflammation and oxidative stress. Fasting give your body a break from digestive processes. As human beings were never really supposed to continually eat throughout the day, this is a relatively new phenomenon because of modern day culture.

Some of the common windows are: 12hr fast/12 eating, 16/8, 18/6, 20/4. Its best to start with 12/12 and gradually increase the fasting window as you assess how you feel.

Calorie restriction: this encompasses eating a specific number of calories per day and often occurs within a specific time.

With this plan one option is to alternate regular eating day with a day where only 500-600 calories are consumed. Another option is the 5:2 plan where 5 days are normal eating days and 2 days are one meal of 500-600 calories.

Fasting mimicking diet: This diet was designed to mimic the effect of fasting without eliminating food. It started with decreasing calories on the first day and further decreasing calories on the following few days while eating specific, lower-carb, nutrient dense whole foods).

Prolonged Fasting: this is generally when a fast lasts greater than 24 hours. These can be done on different cycles for example weekly, biweekly, monthly, or quarterly. This may seem intimidating but think of it like this, you could eat lunch at 12pm on one day and your next meal could be 12pm the next day, that would be considered a 24 hour fast. When it’s broken down like that it seems much more reasonable than not eating at all for a whole day.

Autophagy a process the body uses to clean house. It cleans out damaged cells to general newer, healthier cells. The process of fasting transitions the body to enter fat burning. Fasting for longer than 24 hours starts the initiation of autophagy and cellular clean up. There are many benefits of longer periods of fasting, but it is incredibly important to start slowing on your fasting process. It takes time to build up to longer periods of fasting. It is important to keep awareness of how you feel when you fast. Think about if you truly feel hunger or is it another emotion like boredom or a habitual time of eating.

Some keys to success when fasting involve some strategies. Before starting a fast, make sure to eat some proteins and enough fats and veggies to carry some satiety throughout the following hours to prevent feeling like you need to snack shortly after. When starting out fasting, it is key to slowly lengthen the time between meals. A great was to start is the 16 hour fast/8 hour feeding window.

Some reasons why fasting may not be a good fit for you include being pregnant or breast feeding, have an eating disorder, and currently underweight, or are a child. Also let’s be clear, fasting does not mean hydrating! It is important to drink plenty of water when fasting. Also, when fasting clear liquids such as black coffee and electrolytes don’t break the fast. However, creams, sugary additives, and anything else added to beverages is considered breaking the fast.

Consulting with a health coach is a great resource do help develop a plan on how to best and safety fit fasting into your life. (Coming soon to Collaborative Natural Health Partners, be on the look out! 😉 )

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