Feel the need to lose weight, give your body a chance to repair itself, digest everything you’ve eaten and enable your insulin levels to drop significantly? These are but a few of the benefits of intermittent fasting.
So, in a nutshell, what is intermittent fasting? It is a way of eating in which you cycle between eating and not eating. You consume all your daily calories in a specifically timed window of the day, then you don’t eat until the next day. The largest gap between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day is variable, but however a good time is between 18-20 hours. This gives the body time for the following:
* Cellular repair and changes in hormone levels which make the fat stored in the body more accessible.
* Insulin levels in the blood drop significantly. The body will burn its glucose, stored as glycogen in the liver, in the first 6-24 hours of fasting. Once this store has gone, it will turn to burning the fat in the body’s cells, thus helping loss of visceral fat.
* The combination of intermittent fasting, calorie restriction and exercise can lower insulin resistance, which helps to protect against type 2 diabetes and help weight loss.
* The body starts cellular repair processes eg removing waste material. This is called autophagy and can aid in age-related cellular damage. When the body has time to concentrate on itself without any outside energy being provided by food, it gets rid of any unneeded waste. This waste is considered as the main reason for cell damage and ageing. Therefore, letting the body have time to clean its cells up helps to provide protection from many age-related diseases, including cancer and brain diseases.
* It can help to increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps aid depression. BDNF has been found to be reduced in depressed people.
* Resting energy expenditure increases because of norepinephrine concentration, which helps in weight loss.
The benefits of Intermittent fasting appear to be enormous for the body - cellular protection, brain health, blood sugar regulation & insulin resistance, as well as reducing inflammation throughout the body and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the imbalance between production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract their harmful effects via neutralisation by antioxidants.
When planning your meals whilst intermittent fasting, it is important to remember to eat a variety of whole foods in order to get sufficient vitamins and minerals, as well as fats, proteins and carbohydrates. As only 2 meals a day are eaten, it is important that your meals are full of nutrition.
Please consult a doctor or nutritionist before embarking on intermittent fasting, especially if you are on any medication.