Beginner's Guide to Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting or time-restricted fasting is one of the earliest and most powerful secrets of health. It’s a secret because this powerful tradition has been virtually forgotten by humans. Today our days include sitting in front of computers eating three square meals a day (plus snacks)—even though the metabolic state of our bodies hasn’t changed.
But more recently health-inspired people are re-discovering this dietary intervention providing significant benefits including weight loss, increased energy, improvement of brain cognitive functions, promotion of longevity, and even the reversal of type 2 diabetes, to name a few benefits. In this guide you can learn everything you need to know about intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Defined. Intermittent Fasting is an umbrella term that covers various diets that cycle between a set amount of time of fasting and non-fasting periods. There are a number of ways to actually perform intermittent fasting or time-restricted fasting, but the easiest and most common involve taking advantage of your natural overnight fast. By skipping breakfast and delaying your first meal a number of hours past the 12-hour mark from your meal the prior night, you are entering your body into a “fasted” state causing your body to refuel on its stored body fat. Some of the different intermittent fasting methods include the following:
- 16/8 Fast: consumer all of your daily calories in an 8-hour window and fast for the remaining 16 hours
- 5:2 Fast: consume nourishing, balanced foods five days a week and during the remaining two fasting days consumer approximately 500-600 calories per day
- 24-Hour Fast: restrict all food consumption for 24 hours once or two times per week
- Warrior Fast: fast throughout the day and consume all of your calories in a 4-hour window in the evening
There are various versions of intermittent fasting, but the general concept is the same: the longer you stay in the fasted state, the more your body will learn to metabolically burn stored body fat and the deeper your fat adaptation will get.
Metabolic States of the Body. The body operates between three main metabolic states: fed, fasting and starvation. During any given day, your metabolism switches between fed and fasting states. The starvation mode occurs during prolonged periods of low energy intake. The fed state, or absorptive state, occurs after a meal when your body is digesting the food and absorbing the nutrients. The fasting state, or post-absorptive state, occurs when the food has been digested, absorbed, and stored. When the body is deprived of nourishment for an extended period of time, it goes into starvation, or survival mode.
Fed vs. Fasting. Your body is designed to smoothly transition between the two more common and opposing states: fed and fasting. When the body is in the fed state, insulin levels are elevated signaling your body to store excess calories in your fat cells. When insulin is present in the your body the burning of fat is halted and instead it burns the glucose from your prior meal. When in the fasting state, insulin levels are low and your body starts mobilizing stored body fat from your cells and burning this fat for energy, instead of glucose. In summary this means, you can only burn stored body fat while in the fasting state and you can only store more body fat while in the fed state.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting. In addition to aiding and boosting weight loss, there are several additional health benefits to time-restricted fasting.
- Increase endurance and energy
- Boosts metabolism
- Normalizes insulin sensitivity
- Promotes the production of human growth hormone
- Produces lean muscle mass (when accompanied with exercise)
- Promotes cellular repair
- Improves brain cognitive functions
- Improves mood and focus
- Slows the aging process thereby increasing longevity
In addition to the various health benefits of time-restricted fasting, there are numerous qualifying advantages relative to other diets. Where some diets complicate life, intermittent fasting simplifies it by saving time, money and
Enhancing Intermittent Fasting Results. During your fasting state, you need to refrain from consuming any foods and beverages that include calories, so stick to water, coffee, teas, and broths. You’ll want to avoid beverages that contain sugar and artificial sweeteners, such as, diet sodas, coconut water and alcohol due to the resulting insulin level spikes and knocking of your body out of its fat-burning mode during intermittent fasting.
One of the best ways to meet satiety is through knowing what food makes your body feeling full and fueled. Filling foods generally include higher amounts of protein, fiber, and water, and low energy density. Prepare for your fast by consuming meals that are high in these nutrients and always make sure to drink lots of water. Incorporate fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nut and seeds, beans and legumes, and nourishing whole foods supplements like SANO’s organic plant-based proteins to your intermittent fasting providing for an effective near- and long-term health tool.
The abstention from eating foods for certain periods of time is quite possibly one of the oldest and most powerful dietary bibles. These biblical principles have evolved into several popular ways to accomplish intermittent fasting and all are accompanied by many health and lifestyle benefits that include dramatic weight loss and the saving of time and money, respective.
Once you find the intermittent fast that is ideal for you, the key principle to quality health remains the same: don’t consuming empty calories! Instead, eat a nutrient-dense whole food diet, preferably that is plant-based.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t do any type of fasting if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless you have received your doctor’s approval.