Intermittent fasting (IF) is a term used to define various cyclical fasting and non-fasting periods, over a specified window of time. IF is now taking the world by storm as new research surfaces and Sports Nutritionist Steph Lowe, Author of Low Carb Health Fat Nutrition
, shares 6 things everyone should know.
1. Humans have been fasting for most of history.
Our ancestors were hunter gatherers, so food sources would often be few and far between. Because of this, humans are biologically programmed to reset once in a while. Lately, clinical research has more recently focused on the health, body compositional and longevity benefits of intermittent fasting which has shined a light on an age-old practice.
2. There are many different time windows for fasting.
The 2 main methods of IF are time-restricted feeding or whole-day fasting.
When you’re just starting out, it’s best to experiment with time-restricted feeding and work up to full day fasts. Start with a 5:2 cycle (5 days of normal eating and 2 days of calorie restriction), then move to 16:8 (16 hours fasting and 8 hours of eating) before reaching a peak 24 hour fast as an occasional strategy.
3. A good place to start is by extending the time you first eat breakfast
One of the easiest ways to start IF is to simply delay breakfast. If you have been habitually eating breakfast as soon as you rise, start planning your eating times to allow for 12 hours between dinner and breakfast the next day. Remember, the definition of breakfast is “breaking the fast”, so while it is still the most important meal of the day, it definitely doesn’t need to be consumed at 7am on the dot.
4. Fasting burns fat.
When you work up to a 24 hour fast (i.e. 7pm one evening to 7pm the following evening), your body enters a completely different mode. Without the presence of food, your insulin levels are low and growth hormones are high – the perfect recipe for burning fat. Don’t forget to hydrate during this phase!
5. Fasting isn’t for everyone.
If you’re going through a hard time at home or work, if you are pregnant or if you are on certain medications (like insulin for example), fasting is definitely not advised.
6. There are heaps of health benefits to fasting
By incorporating fasting into your life, you can expect benefits like weight loss and a reduced risk chronic disease. Fasting has also been known to reduce inflammation, help you sleep better, reduce your risk of breast cancer and help you live longer.