Fasting for Health
Wondering what all the talk about fasting is? Read below to find out all the great information.
Abstaining from eating for specific lengths of time can be a beneficial tool not only for weight loss but for optimizing many other aspects of your health. As the human species, we have fasted throughout our history be it from a long night’s sleep, food scarcity, or religious reasons.
When you are in the fed state, you are typically metabolizing food for about 3 to 5 hours following your last meal. During this state, hormones that support growth and storage such as insulin are upregulated. When you are in a fasted state (about 12 hours after your last meal), your insulin levels are low and your body is able to burn fat as fuel. Fasting is also a great way to practice managing hunger, a skill that can be important for many of us to shed fat and keep it off.
Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating for which there are many variations. Here are two common examples:
- Daily 16/8 (16 hour fast/ 8 hour eating window): Start eating at 12pm and finish eating by 8pm and repeat daily.
- Weekly 24 hour: Finish dinner at 6pm and do not eat again until 6pm the following day. Repeat once or twice per week. Eat normally all other days of the week.
It is also important to note that the majority of studies conducted on intermittent fasting have been conducted on men or using animal models. There are some suggestions that fasting is a greater (unhealthy) stressor on women, however there are no clear studies supporting this fact. If you are a woman and want to experience the benefits of fasting, experiment with it. Start small by trying a 12 or 14 hour fast once or twice a week and increase from there if you feel your body is tolerant.
Proposed benefits of intermittent fasting include, but aren’t limited to:
- Increased longevity, mental clarity, growth hormone secretion (encourages lean muscle mass maintenance and growth), cellular turnover and repair (autophagy), weight loss/weight management
- Reduced risk of chronic disease such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes
- Improved blood glucose regulation, insulin sensitivity, appetite regulation due to hormonal shifts
If you are sedentary, current research proposes 20-24 hour fasts are required to see benefits. If you are very active, or exercise in a fasted state you may start to reap the benefits after 16-20 hours of fasting.
First and foremost, fasting should feel good. If it doesn’t you should ask your PHD Consultant for advice!
- Start small. Begin with shorter and less frequent fasts. 16 hours is effective in getting you into the habit and may be all you need to see the benefits.
- Hunger! Try to fast on a busy weekday where your mind might be better distracted. Coffee, green tea, unsweetened carbonated water, and full sodium bone broth can also help. Remember that hunger typically passes as your body dips into its glycogen stores and/or your fat stores for needed calorie burn. Drink water or the hot beverages above to help ride out any hunger.
- Fluids & Electrolytes. Drink 8 ounce of water when you wake up and keep drinking throughout the day. Adding Trace Mineral drops to your water can be helpful. Ultima electrolytes or a pinch of sea salt and small squeeze of lemon added to water is fine.
- Social situations: A lot of people don’t understand the benefits of fasting and can sometimes unintentionally sabotage your well-intended efforts. Fasting can actually be fun and gratifying when you start your fast with the right mindset and see it though without cheating.
- Practice: Just like with everything else, fasting takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if your first few fasts don’t go as predicted. Give yourself a few weeks to perfect the skill.
- Don’t overeat. When you eat your first meal after your fast, pretend your fast never happened. The last meal before your fast should be a healthy PHD Meal and your fast should end with the same.
Disclaimer: Not everyone should fast. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, children under the age of 18 and diabetic patients without close medical supervision should not use this tool and should speak with their physician first prior to any fasting attempts.
Fact: The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold while intermittent fasting. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain, and have numerous other benefits.
Awareness Challenge this week: Try out a fun fast this week!
Tune in next time; we’ll talk about the importance of your lymphatic system and how to keep it moving!
In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about living a healthier lifestyle, reach out to us for our professional guidance and support. Give us a call!
“People do not decide to become extraordinary, they decide to accomplish extraordinary things.” – Edmund Hillary
Blog Photo Credit: The Bullet Proof Blog
Cover Photo Credit: Reader’s Digest