WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Intermittent Fasting is a topic that keeps popping up in health and fitness circles at the moment. It has become popular as a tool for weight loss, a way to control and even reverse type II diabetes and other chronic diseases, improved brain function and is also considered to be anti-aging.
So, I decided to do a bit of research into it, because when we hit middle age, we all have something we would like to improve about our health or a little bit of weight we would like to lose. It’s an age where we can start to see the physical results of unfavourable eating habits, and/or a lack of enough exercise, as well as stress, which can lead to weight gain, chronic disease and feeling older than you really are
WHAT IS FASTING?
Fasting is any period of time without eating, It is flexible and can be different for everyone.
Today’s ‘usual’ pattern of eating generally consists of 3 – 6 meals a day and this can be 3 large meals, with a couple of small snacks, or 6 small meals through-out the day, or some of us just graze all day long.
We have become a society that is used to having food available all of the time. The quality of the food varies from person to person, but the ability to eat regularly is common amongst most of us.
Some of us handle that well, but some of us consume more that our body requires, which is a leading cause of weight gain.
Fasting has been practiced for millions of years, from cave men times, to countries with different religious beliefs, to special times of the year, it is a very common practice. But, due to the big churning world of the food industry, the intake of many meals in a day, on a regular basis, has become ‘the norm’.
As a nutritionist, I was used to telling my clients that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I am now shifting my theory on this.
There are days you definitely need to get that breakfast right, but there are also days when skipping and making that first meal in the middle of the day can be of benefit to your health
The word ‘Breakfast’ originally came from its actual meaning – the ‘breaking’ of your ‘fast’ – BreakFast – that is why the first meal of the day is called this. But there was no rule as to when this first meal should be. But the breakfast cereal companies found it a great opportunity to sell their products, and here we are today eating sugary, high carbohydrate foods first thing in the morning.
As a beginner, I decided I would only fast once a week, for a couple of weeks.
On my first attempt, I finished my last meal of the day by 7pm, or at least 3 hours before bed and then I wouldn’t eat until 11am the next day (16 hours fasting, 8 hours feeding).
The first couple of times I struggled with how hungry I was by the end of the day with less calories under my belt. I was scrambling for all the carbs I could find until I stuffed myself. But I then realised it was a metal reaction, not a physical one. By the third time, I realised my body was functioning perfectly well.
I found that I had a lot more time in the morning, because I didn’t have to think about or prepare breakfast. I also didn’t have to worry about making special meals for the rest of the day, I just went about them as normal. I didn’t have to count calories or stress over the perfect meal, I just needed to eat fresh, wholefoods – simple.
I allowed myself some green tea, or other herbal tea and water to drink during this time – if I was a coffee drinker, I’d be allowed to have that, but no milk or sugar. I needed to avoid anything that would push me out of the fasting state and start the digestive system moving.
I really wasn’t thinking about food at all, and if my tummy started to rumble, it would only last a few minutes and then it was gone for the rest of the fast. I was never tired or lethargic, I actually found it easier to stay focused on what I was doing.
It was really surprised at how easy it was. I now fast 2-3 times a week, and don’t think twice about it.
This is a lifestyle that is great for weight loss, as well as a tool for general health and wellbeing.