With one simple health trick?!?!? No waayyyyyyyyy you say.
Well actually – it’s true and it’s super easy. Welcome to the world of intermittent fasting or ‘scheduled eating’.
Put simply both these terms mean restricting your eating to a smaller window each day than previously practiced. Doing this increases the time spent in a ‘fasted’ state – which provides huge health benefits for very little effort. It’s very similar to exercising – we gain a physiological benefit from putting the body through a slightly stressed state, thereby inducing positive adaptation to occur.
Let’s have a look at the benefits of IF.
Body switches to burning fat stores instead of sugar.
Our bodies typically store about 8 hours worth of glycogen (sugar) so after not eating and replenishing these stores for that time period the body is forced to switch to burning fat. Sugar stores won’t change much depending on what you eat as dietary fats will be broken down into glycogen if there is a lack of carbohydrates in the diet. This is desirable in my opinion.
Human growth hormone (HGH) increases exponentially.
Termed the ‘youth’ hormone, literally keeping us younger and healthier, more resilient physically, increasing fitness and reducing recovery time (think Essendon James Herd scandal). It’s also Important for overall immunity. Some studies suggest fasting can increase HGH production by 1,500% !!! The only other way to do this is through intermittent high intensity exercise which can only been done a few times per week (unless you’re an elite athlete taking recovery methods very seriously).
Increases insulin sensitivity.
Perfect for balancing blood sugar and as you guys now know this means making it easier to maintain a healthy weight !!! It also means less cravings and mood fluctuations, plus a whole range of other health benefits.
Increased mental awareness and brain activity through neurochemistry mechanisms.
Specifically, for you health nerds, the chemical which is stimulated during a fasted state is BDNF Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This has been shown to increase mental functioning. This is the chemical which is also released during exercise – that ‘happy factor’. Other terms like ‘runner’s high’ might be used, too.
How does it all work though? Camaaannn!!
As previously mentioned, like exercise, fasting puts our body in a slightly stressed state, stimulating internal mechanisms to become more efficient at what they do. Keep throwing perfect food 3x per day at the same times the body gets a little lazy yeah? It works similarly to (reportedly even better than) calorie restricted diets.
OMGGGGGG – HOW DO I DO THIS?
K weeeellllll you’re going to need a little fortitude in the initial stages of introducing this bad boy health tool into your regime.
Our goal should be to spend 16 hours of our day NOT EATING. But this includes sleep so don’t stress.
What this means is that we need to compress our eating schedule into an 8 hour window, typically between 11am and 7pm or 10am and 6pm. Dinner should be 2-3 hours before bed.
You can still eat 3 meals during your 8 hour time frame; you don’t have to but you can. Actually you can have 5 or 6 if you want. Its up to you.
I believe an even better way to practice intermittent fasting is to add in super nutrition (very low calorie) during your fasting periods. Consuming my recommended supplements during this time is very effective, and will act like a constant, subtle detox program – brilliant for all of you asking for a detox guide. You can also include healthy drinks like Green Tea, White Tea, Kombucha and other herbal concoctions with little to no calories. Organic coffee can be enjoyed in this time but by golly please go easy – its acidic remember?
Another way to boost the health benefits even further is to exercise during your fasted state! Further increasing fat-burning and the body’s innate adaptation to physical stress. You would also find improvements in performance using this strategy as the body’s energy production pathways are ‘freed up’ so to speak.
So give it a try and see how it goes. Like me you might find that this program works great for a few days at a time, followed by a regular eating schedule. You might find eating easier in the morning, so you might skip dinner instead.
Remember, if doing IF means you binge and eat poorly, don’t bother. I’d sooner have you eating 3 healthy meals over a 12 hour period than feeling starved, stressed and eating Subway out of cookie and home.
Regardless of how you do it, you should always follow the dietary guidelines I’ve set out for you in the past… (below)
High vegetable / greens
Moderate healthy protein
Moderate-high healthy fats