Did you also go totally over the top with food and drinks during the holiday season? Many people did and then made a new years resolution to clean up their life style. The ambition to lose weight, stop smoking and drinking, start running and become the Mr or Ms Beach of the Year is as high as Mount Everest. At least until around now, mid-Jan, when reality hits and getting up earlier to prepare a healthy breakfast or getting out the door for a long walk or hitting the gym suddenly seems harder than climbing Mount Everest. Suddenly the extra time people found in the first half of January is gone again and before we’re into February most people are back to old habits.
Any surprises here? No, not really. It’s the same every year. Ask any gym owner.
Don’t be one of those people. A quitter. We’re big on tips on how to create habits and in this particular case we have a great tip for you to experience those quick motivation boosting results. Intermittent fasting.
What is intermittent fasting?
In its simplest form it’s to decide to not eat during certain hours during the day and/or during the week and to make that a regular habit.
There’s two typical approaches to this and you can implement one of them or a combination of the two both if you wish:
- You limit your eating period to a 6-8 hour window every day.
- You take one longer break of 24-36 hours from eating every week
Some will say that’s it. Here at Reintegrate we advise to add one more component to it to maximise the benefit – when you eat, eat clean!
Intermittent fasting has been around forever but has had a surge in popularity in the last years. The 5:2 diet is a very popular variation of intermittent fasting where you eat whatever you want 5 days a week and restrict your calories to 500-600 kcal 2 non-consecutive days a week.
How does intermittent fasting work?
When what you consume hits the digestive system the stomach release stomach juice containing enzymes and other substances that are breaking down the proteins, fats and carbohydrates into amino acids, fatty acids and glucose. Glucose then enters the cells and is stored as energy until needed. Your body can actually turn protein and fat into glucose but it’s a much more difficult and ineffective process so as long as there’s a supply of carbohydrates your body prefers to use that as fuel. The simpler carbs (higher Glycemic Index) the easier and if there now simple carbs your body will work with more complex carbs (lower Glycemic Index) to turn it into glucose. Any excess energy consumed will be stored as fat and reversely if you don’t get energy from consumption your body will draw energy from your fat. So by restricting the availability of readily available energy in the stomach you force your body to draw energy from the storage i.e. burn fat.
Intermittent fasting is boosting your energy!
Another positive effect of intermittent fasting is that boosts your energy levels. As odd as it may sound it really does because your body starts releasing endorphins during fasting to stimulate energy and activity to make you go out and “hunt for food”. However, if you’re normal diet is high on sugars (high glycemic index food) you will have withdrawal symptoms in the beginning and feel pretty useless but just stick with it and take it as an important reminder that you’re hooked on that killer drug called sugar. When your normal diet is cleaned up you will notice a boost in energy during the fasting period.
Is intermittent fasting healthy?
A big Yes. And it makes sense too. Dr Mercola is big proponent of intermittent fasting and he lists a couple of health benefits in his excellent article and video What the Science Says About Intermittent Fasting:
- Reducing inflammation and lessening free radical damage
- Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which is key for optimal health
- Improving biomarkers of disease
- Normalizing ghrelin levels, also known as “the hunger hormone”
- Lowering triglyceride levels
- Preserving memory functioning and learning
I specifically want to high-light the first point Reducing inflammation as it’s important to understand that most people carry silent inflammation without knowing it. And one only becomes aware of your body’s is fighting to stay healthy when the silent inflammation becomes overwhelming for your body’s defense system and the silent inflammation breaks out into illness. Read more about how to reduce silent inflammation in our earlier post.
Another giant in the diet and nutrition space is Robb Wolf who talks about intermittent fasting and cancer in his great article Origin of Cancer:
People who practice caloric restriction or periodic fasting have been shown to have lower cancer rates. Why? When calories are reduced to a certain threshold the body initiates a process called autophagy (self-digestion). Autophagy is a cellular process that consumes damaged cellular components, including damaged mitochondria, and will use the digested components to meet energy requirements, a cleaning house process if you will — cleaning out the damaged mitochondria that are the incipient seeds of malignancy.
How to get started with intermittent fasting?
Firstly, do not treat intermittent fasting as a diet, it’s a life style. Take an approach to it that you can work into your daily or weekly schedule. Does daily reduced eating periods or longer weekly fasting work better for you? Why not try both approaches a couple of weeks each?
If you’re not yet sure just keep reading up in intermittent fasting. There’s lots of article on the web about intermittent fasting but for scientifically grounded advise we recommend that you start reading what Dr Mercola says about intermittent fasting.
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