The world is full of diet fads. In the 90’s we had diet pills. In the early noughties, if you didn’t have a juicer you were missing out on life’s quintessential health boosters. Now we have been gifted green tea pads that reduce tummy size and if you’re not eating like a Neanderthal then you’re already at a disadvantage. I’m very sceptical as a rule to all fads. If something is touted as revolutionary and game changing in the world of weight loss, then chances are it’s just marketing jargon to sell whatever is trending. If there was ever a ‘fad’ to jump on board with though, it’s intermittent fasting and I am so excited to share with you what I have learned about it.
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent fasting is the act of reducing caloric intake through a regimented schedule of both on and off periods of eating. Sounds very boring and simple I know, but trust me, when I tried it, I quickly learnt that it is an exercise in self-discipline and can be maddening in the initial stages.
I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting the most of 2019 and the results that I found myself include weight loss, mental clarity a full night sleep and way more energy. . I started experimenting with Intermittent fasting for the longevity benefits, not to lose weight. But the first thing I noticed was my belly fat reduced quiet noticeably….I know you can’t spot reduce fat areas on your body so The reduction of belly fat will have been related to hormones…and as we know, during menopause weight storage around the mid-section is a fact of life.
The people that I respect and follow in the field of longevity use intermittent fasting as a tool to stay younger. The statement made by longevity scientist and expert Prof David Sinclair of Harvard University put my mind at ease… he said nobody really knows the exact answer or the perfect method of fasting, even if they say they do…. Tests performed on mice clearly indicate that consuming 30% less food will increase lifespan by 30%… What I loved about this is that it made intermittent fasting a little bit simpler for me to follow knowing that there’s not an exact science. If you follow all of the experts and all of the little intricacies that are involved, you can get really stressed out. So, I’m going to share with you what I did, how I lost weight and how I managed my hunger….
MY NOTES ON INTERMITTENT FASTING.
My experience with intermittent fasting has honestly completely reframed a large aspect of my understanding of healthy food habits and has given me a further avenue into the world of healthy ageing and longevity. I would love for all of you to try this for yourselves and I’m going to outline my understandings and my recommendations for jumping in. As a note, I just want to say I am not a healthcare professional and before trying this out for yourself, I recommend seeking the advice of a healthcare professional to see if it’s right for you.
The act of restricting calories is in and of itself a catalyst for weight loss so that seems like a no brainer.
I would absolutely begin your intermittent fasting journey with a 12 hour fast. As long as you finish eating your last meal by 8 PM at night and don’t eat again until 8 AM the next day, you will have begun your intermittent fasting journey. Doing the 12-hour fast will help you get your mindset right and develop a discipline around creating a routine eating pattern.
When you’re comfortable with fasting for 12 hours…experiment with going to noon before you have your first meal….if you are successful, you will have had your body in a fasting state for 16 hours….the next step is to continue fasting for another 4 hours and only eat between 2pm – 6pm……I recommend experimenting to see what feels good for your body….I wouldn’t try a 20 hour fast until you have prepared your body, but It is certainly a goal you can set for yourself if you would like to loose more weight and feel really, really good….note…you can fast every other day….don’t obsess….you don’t need to get this perfect!….
If you can make it through to noon…You have missed one meal of the day = 30 % less food (technically)…weight loss comes from 80% eating less and 20% exercise but here is what I love….the animal tests showed that the increased lifespan was still at 30 %v when the mice overate outside the fasting times….concluding that it’s not so much what you eat but when you eat….I highly recommend you eat
SCIENCE BEHIND INTERMITTENT FASTING
There is some science at play here as well, namely your bodies production of HGH. Before we get to that, I should explain why this is. When we eat, our bodies naturally produce insulin to store glucose from carbohydrates for later use. We live in a society when all of our meals are generally regular, and we are bombarded with high sugar and fat levels in most consumables. This puts us in an anabolic state, meaning we are constantly gaining. Glucose from food is stored as fat, hence, weight gain. Intermittent fasting essentially reverses this process and allows our cells to release the stored glucose for energy. Cells enter a catabolic state (breaking down) leading to weight loss. HGH is produced in response to your bodies need for glucose, so when we are constantly eating, HGH production is suppressed because we are getting glucose externally. HGH is responsible for regulating metabolism and has all sorts of wonderful qualities for muscle repair and fat burning. Intermittent fasting has been shown to boost HGH production by up to 5x.
INTERMITTENT FASTING FOR LONGEVITY
Another aspect to intermittent fasting that I find fascinating and ground-breaking (excuse the term) is its anti-ageing effects and the advancements it poses for longevity. This is achieved primarily through autophagy which is your body’s natural way of cleaning out all of the damaged cells and replacing them with new healthy ones. It’s like recycling. For longevity, this is super exciting. A natural, healthy way of replacing old cells and turning the clock back with the production of young cells. Autophagy is hardwired into us from our ancestors and acts to supplement the body with energy from itself (self-eating). This can’t last indefinitely of course, but you will be eating every day so your body doesn’t need to keep this up forever. Autophagy is increased through intermittent fasting as our cells become stressed. Autophagy comes into play to help protect and replenish. This actually enhances our lifespan. I love listening to the teachings of Dr (whatshisname?) who has put all of these theories to practice on rats. What he has found is astounding. He has been able to show unequivocally that CR is able to increase the lifespan of rats by 30%. No drugs, no medicine, just a simple trick we can all implement into our lives.
TIPS FOR GETTING STARTED
Adjusting to intermittent fasting is not the easiest thing to do, especially if you are just going 100% in all at once. One thing we absolutely have to avoid is binging large amounts of processed foods in our periods of eating. If we do this, we may not see any results at all! What I recommend doing is changing your eating habits first. Getting into a rhythm of eating as clean as possible will help you immensely before jumping into intermittent fasting. Start this two weeks before you plan on beginning your intermittent fasting schedule and the transition will be that much easier.
Staying on track can be difficult, but here is what I did to help me stay focussed.
- I practiced not snacking at night. This was by far the hardest thing for me to do and that’s when most of my energy went. But I remembered what David Sinclair said that feeling hungry during the day is a reminder of the good that you’re doing body. So, I trained my mind to be okay with those little feelings of hunger during the day. I know that I’ll be able to eat soon, and I know I’m contributing to my overall health.
- Himalayan Rock salt to trick my body into not being hungry. I take a couple of granules under my tongue when I feel like eating and I forget that I am hungry. I totally didn’t think this would work when I heard about it, but it does!
- I read that while you in a fasting state not to take any supplements because your body must be left to its own devices to do all the work. So that’s what I did and it’s working fine for me
- The first thing I eat when I break my fast is protein. Not fat or carbohydrates. My body responds very well to that.
- If I’m having a very busy day, I’ll plan to do 20/4 fast so that I don’t have to focus on food, meal prep and planning. I interchange fasting times depending on what I’m doing. But I always come back to the fast because it makes me feel very, very good.
I am so happy that I decided to give intermittent fasting a go and I’m so excited for you to try it for yourself. I want you all to be feeling as good as you possibly can, and intermittent fasting is a simple practice you can add to your eating habits to help with weight loss and improve your longevity. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and any finding you make for yourself!