What is Intermittent Fasting?
Many religions practice periods of fasting and our hunter-gatherer ancestors would certainly have gone for long stretches without food so fasting is nothing new. Intermittent fasting (IF) is now being hailed by many nutrition experts as an important anti-aging and health promoting style of eating that many of us would do well to adopt. There are several ways to fast and my favourite (and definitely the easiest method) is to go for 14-16 hours without eating – for me this means finishing eating by 8.00pm and not eating breakfast until 10.00am the next day. I don’t manage this every day but always fast overnight for at least 12 hours. The total number of calories eaten in a day does not need to change, it simply means eating within a more restricted time frame. Many of us do this naturally at weekends waking late to enjoy a brunch so we know how easy it is.
What You'll Need
- Eat well during your eating hours including lean protein and healthy fats and reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates to a minimum.
- Break your fast with a meal rich in protein and good fats (eg. eggs, salmon and avocado) to reduce insulin release.
What You'll Do
- Before you embrace IF a word of warning – do not attempt any form of fasting if you are hypoglycaemic or diabetic (not for pregnant or breast feeding women either). It is very likely that you have blood sugar problems if after a few hours without food you feel weak, light-headed or irritable. If you suffer from blood sugar problems you should see a qualified nutritionist and sort this out first.
- IF reduces circulating glucose, reducing insulin levels in the blood and in turn helping to normalise insulin sensitivity – all of which means a reduction in insulin resistance. Improved blood sugar balance results in fewer cravings for sugar and stodge so the knock on effect is that many people who start IF lose weight. Insulin resistance contributes to most chronic disease - diabetes, cancer and heart disease - so improving insulin sensitivity is a must for improving health.
- My advice is also try exercising first thing in the morning in the fasted state whilst your body is still in the fat burning phase.
- You can work IF into your life gradually starting with an overnight 12 hour fast and gradually building to 14-16 hours.
- Try it for yourself you may be amazed by how good IF makes you feel!
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