In this article, learn all about intermittent fasting and how to do it correctly so it works for you. Learn the benefits and its side effects in this detailed article and then start fasting!
Intermittent fasting is an ancient technique to give a break to one's digestion and reset the clock back to health and vitality. Fasting has been practiced by many cultures and religions throughout history - not just for its health benefits but also as a spiritual practice. In this article, we explore the benefits of fasting so that you can start this FREE therapy to heal your body and sustain true health.
What is intermittent fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting is defined as the time gap between not-eating and eating to get the health benefits like weight loss, energy, hormone balance, etc. It does not say what you should eat when you break the fast; rather, it defines the time gap to be usually between 12 to 16 hrs minimum for fast and longer, in order to produce the desired results in one's health.
The Role of Insulin in our body & link to intermittent fasting (IF) -
Insulin is one powerful hormone! Insulin is linked to weight, diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. These things are called metabolic syndrome - the conditions that happen together, like someone having high blood pressure, risk of stroke, diabetes, is obese and has high cholesterol. Metabolic syndrome is also suggested by a large waist circumference (big, fatty belly). Metabolic syndrome is linked to both obesity and insulin resistance (more on this below).
Insulin is a very important hormone. It causes the body to store fat - to be used later for energy. Every time you eat, insulin is released. But since we live in the age of eating, eating, and more eating, you can be sure insulin is constantly being released in your body. If insulin causes the body to store fat, then by simple math, it is clear that high insulin is equal to high stores of fat. People with heavy bulky tummies have high levels of insulin. People who are obese have high levels of insulin.
Now, when you fast, you are letting the body relax from consistent high levels of insulin. This means that the body now has lower levels of insulin. When insulin levels go down, the body starts to use fat for energy - the whole process is reversed during the fasting time. And this is why, intermittent fasting leads to fat loss and healthier weight. As you shed your excess fat, all your other metabolic syndrome symptoms improve or disappear overtime by consistent fasting. I hope this explains to you easily.
Conclusion: Insulin is a very important hormone but excess insulin is a big red flag; lowering insulin by fasting can help you prevent obesity, shed off belly fat, prevent cardiovascular diseases, reverse high blood pressure and even attain healthy blood sugar levels!!
What is Autophagy & how is it related to fasting?
Autophagy is the natural process of a cell that destroys and recycles unused parts of the cells. Japanese researcher Yoshinori Ohsumi received nobel prize in 2016 for this discovery. Autophagy is from ancient Greek word autophagos, meaning "self-devouring". Autophagy literally means to "self-eat" ("auto" meaning self and "phagy" meaning eat and in this case, it implies that the cells "self-eat" their own unnecessary or dysfunctional, destroyed, abnormal parts.
During fasting, autophagy starts at 12 to 13 hours - so you have to get to this point to start cell regeneration. At around 16 hrs into the fast, is when cells start eating toxic waste and abnormal parts of the cell and this is when growth hormone level increases. At around 24 hrs, is when you get higher levels of growth hormone, which is great and maximum autophagy. This is great as the longer you stay on your fast, the more the body starts finding stored fat and starts eating it away. This results in weight loss and is a great tool for cancer patients. If you continue to 3 day fasts, stem cells starts kicking in - a powerful tool for cancer patients or just anyone!
What is Fast Mimicking Diet (FMD) & how is it related to fasting?
FMD was developed and led by Dr.Valter Longo, an Italian biologist and researcher. In 2017 clinical trial, those who were on FMD were found to have decline in insulin-growth factor (IGF-1), which is a cancer biomarker. They also had high stem cell production (especially great news for cancer patients), good weight loss, lower sugar and blood pressure.
FMD is a diet that consists of healthy, natural plant based whole foods (yes, no animal foods are eaten) but you only eat for 5 days - a diet low in calories (about 40% less than your regular calorie intake), high in good healthy fats like coconut oil, hemp oil, olives, avocados, etc and the rest of 2 days, you eat how you normally would. This is done once a month (so 5 days out of each month) and must be continued for 3 months minimum before seeing results.
So, to be more exact, the first 5 days, you eat low-carbs, low-calories, low-protein but high fat diet. The point of this is to give the body nutrients as well as put low stress on those who can't handle full fasting. The whole concept here is to help the body to repair and regenerate new cells. So, in FMD, you go for 60% calories from healthy fats, 30% complex carbohydrates, and 10% from protein.
This type of fasting will work for those who are not able to do full 16 hr or 24 hr fast for some reason since it does not completely restrict the food intake while at the same time allowing the benefits of fasting without having to go through strict water fast or dry fast.
So, to help you understand even more, I will give you an example; you could have coconut milk smoothie with wild blueberries and tablespoon of coconut milk in the morning. Then, for lunch, some light vegetable soup and a large plate of salad. Then in evening, enjoy some olives with tahini or some nut butter. And for dinner, vegetable soup or salad with some avocados, coconut oil or hemp oil added to it.
Benefits of intermittent fasting (IF):-
You probably know that intermittent fasting is known for lowering inflammation in the body, is helpful in eliminating of metabolic waste products, may help reverse cancer by virtue of autophagy, helps with increased energy and shedding off excess weight. Here, I have listed some more important benefits in detail that you may not know of.
Normalizes Leptin & Ghrelin levels - Ghrelin is the 'hunger' hormone as it tells you when you are hungry by sending a signal to your brain. It is produced in your gut. Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can decrease ghrelin.
Leptin is the hormone known for telling us when we are full. It signals to the brain when we have eaten enough and need to stop. Intermittent fasting can increase leptin, thus leading to even healthier weight management.
Better Skin - As you release all toxic waste, it is inevitable to see the results on your skin; IF leads to smooother, glowing skin and has been long used as a cure for acne, redness, dull skin.
Insulin Resistance - Insulin is the hormone secreted by pancreas. Insulin allows the cells to absorb and use glucose for energy. Insulin resistance happens when the cells in your liver, muscles and fat cannot absorb glucose because they are ignoring or 'resisting' the signal insulin hormone is sending them. This causes the pancreas to pump out too much insulin - more than what is needed by the body (almost 5 to 7 times more) while at the same time, causing glucose or blood sugar to keep rising. When the pancreas gets tired and is unable to maintain the high demand of insulin, then high levels of blood glucose develops, leading to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting is great as it helps promote insulin sensitivity and reverses insulin resistance.
Weight Loss & Muscle Building - There are 6 main fat-burning hormones in our body. Growth Hormone is the main hormone involved in fat burning and also, the most powerful one. During fasting, the growth hormone increase, leading to more weight loss and higher muscle mass.
Mental Clarity, Memory, Calm & Focus - Once you start your fasting regimen, you will immediately see that you have better clarity on things that you couldn't figure out answers to. You will also see your mind is much calmer, reacts very well to any stress or triggers and you are going to be in better mood - most of the time, if not, all of the time.
Alzheimer's - Have a elderly parent you are taking care of or concerned about? Or worried how to prevent this dreadful disease? Alzheimer's is now the most common cause of dementia (memory loss & cognitive decline). Alzheimer's is between 60% to 80% of dementia cases - a shocking statistic. Out of this, about 200,000 Americans under 65 have an early-onset of Alzheimer's. Intermittent fasting slows down the accumulation of amyloids plaques and degeneration of dopamine neurons in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients.
Side effects of IF:-
Common side-effects of intermittent fasting (IF) include feeling cold (due to thyroid working less during the fasting hours), headache (due to low blood sugar), moodiness, tiredness, feeling sleepy, and nausea.
Rare side effects -
1. Increase in uric acid (from kidney stones or gout) - This is due to the fact that as body detoxifies itself, it will start using uric acid. Simple fix is to alkalize your ph - take organic apple cider vinegar after fast or during, eat a large bowl of vegetables AND last but not least, increase your potassium citrate (take electrolyte powder).
2. Hair loss - Again, very rare but this is for those who were already experiencing hair loss due to being nutrient deficient. This is because of b-vitamins deficiency, processed foods and unhealthy hair care regimen (toxic shampoos, etc).
How to do intermittent fasting (IF)?
16/8 - This is the most common one. You choose a day and then eat within 8 hour time window and for remaining 16 hrs, you fast. The 16 hrs include your sleep time as well so fairly easy.
24 hrs - This is where you fast for 24 hours and drink only liquids that are allowed.
Alternate Day Fasting - This is where you eat around 500 calories on fasting day and then resume normal calories the other day. This approach was made by Dr.Krista Varady.
12-hour Fasting - The easiest and great one to start; all you do is after your dinner, you don't eat anything - no snack, nothing. Go to bed and let it be full 12 hours before you eat. Autophagy still kicks in but this has mild benefits; it is rather a great health maintenance tool.
Dry Fasting - This is basically when you don't take anything - not even water and just fast.
What do drink during fast & what to eat after fast?
Acceptable liquids during fast - Water, coffee (non-dairy, no bulletproof, no sugar, no cream & only 1 in the day), lemon water, coconut water (only 1 to limit sugar), apple cider vinegar water, herbal tea (decaffeinated) or lemon-apple cider vinegar water drink to increase fat burning.
What to eat after fast - You should have a big bowl of salad (lots of leafy greens), little bit of protein like light lentils and pair it with some good amount of healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil and coconut butter, olives, etc.
Who should NOT do intermittent fasting (IF)?
Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, women with fertility issues (esp. amenorrhea) or trying to conceive (TTC) are advised to not fast. In this case, it is best to avoid fasting all together or work with a functional doctor.
Pregnant females should NOT fast as in fasting the brain goes in survival mode - hence, creating a conflict between the baby and the mother's body for resources.
People with gastric issues are generally advised to not fast or at a very minimum, to start on shorter fasts and build-up the fasting 'stamina' slowly. Working with a functional doctor and starting your new fasting regimen is a safer and better idea.
People who are severely underweight or have eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, emotional eating patterns, etc should not fast.
Diabetics and/or those on blood pressure medicine should work with functional doctor before taking on any type of fasting to avoid low blood sugar or blood pressure issues.
Points to Remember:-
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To Fasting - till next article.
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