Intermittent Fasting (or IF ) is something I came across about 8 months ago. I had heard of it and discovered that there were varying methods of practising IF.
Rather than get into the various types and methods (and there are quite a few out there!!), I will just share with you what I do, what IF is and how it can be beneficial for most people.
In a nutshell, IF is about not eating anything for a period of 16 hours (minimum) and eating within the 8 hour window of a 24 hour day. What I typically do is fast from around 7 or 8pm and eat at 11am/12pm the next day.
So youre probably wondering why? Whats the point of doing that? Especially when for years many of you may have been told or heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day -Right? I certainly thought so too!!
Well, the reason for the ‘fasting period’ is to allow the bodys digestive system to have a break and allow it to do its job of detoxing waste and toxins. When we eat, the body stops detoxing as it needs to then work on digesting the food consumed.
What also happens during this period of fasting it supports the process of moving glucose into cells and puts your body in a state of ketogenesis. This means that your body will start to go into fat-burning mode as the glucose stores in your body would have been depleted by not eating.
This is a massive benefit as this can assist you to lose that excess fat. Most studies consistently show that excess fat can lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc.
Some of the longest lived cultures like the Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese of the past would not eat breakfast and only break their fast at around midday. This is ideal to gain the maximum benefits of detoxification for the body.
Since putting this into practice I have found that this is now a lifestyle for me which I do daily – sometimes on the weekends, when I meet up with friends I break my fast early but then just jump back on the wagon the next day! Too easy! I would not even consider it as a ‘diet’ as such as I get to eat great wholesome food during the 6-8 hours.
It has helped me with sweet cravings which I hardly have any longer, I feel so much more focused and clear and I wake up bright and full of energy! And although this is not the main reason for doing IF… for some who are looking to try and manage weight gain, they may find that this can help support that! Best of all IF helps with better digestion and increased longevity!
I would recommend that if you do try it, be patient, it takes time for your body to adjust to something new, there may be detox effects for some, with fatigue, hunger, cravings, headaches, but hang in there, have heaps of water and keep going!
Intermittent Fasting - How it works:
The 24 hour cycle – what happens to the body: (example based on the times below – this can be changed to suit your individual lifestyles)
From 4am – 12noon – the Detoxification phase - this is when the body goes through.. you guessed it – detoxification! This is when your organs will begin to excrete toxins and start eliminating any wastes from your body. Whether you eat ‘clean’ or not, food still has waste that need to be excreted. This is also the ideal time to do exercise as the body will burn any glucose left from the previous night and once this is depleted, this is when it goes into fat-burning mode.
Our bodies have 4 channels of elimination which I will cover in more detail in another article, but for now know that the channels are respiration, perspiration, urination and defecation.
The next stage is 12 noon – 8pm – this is the best phase as you get to eat! This stage is called Appropriation (which means take in nutrition) This phase is really important as there is an ‘art’ to doing this appropriately (pardon the pun!) To gain the best from this, it is best to eat between 12pm and 6pm, so to FINISH eating by 6pm.
The reason for this is that when you finish eating by 6pm, it allows the body to start the process of digesting fats, protein so that within 2 hours (8pm) all of the food will be out of your stomach and in your small intestine ready for the next phase of assimilation.
From 8pm – 4am – This phase is called Assimilation (creating space to receive). To gain maximum benefits of the assimilation process all one needs to do is not eat anything at all. Sounds easy but it very important. Once you have taken in nutrition, you now need to give the body the chance and time to absorb the nutrients into the body.
What to have during the fast:
During the fasting period, you would need to only drink water. Squeezing some lemon in the water is also fine. You can also have herbal teas and coffee (with no milk and no sugar!) until the appropriation phase.
Breaking the fast:
The first food to eat when you break a fast is fruit or vegetables. This is because these foods are high in water which help to hydrate your digestive system. After about half an hour or so, you can have your lunch and start to take in more raw vegetables, like salads, sprouted grain breads, avocado or a wrap.
You can have some snacks in between of nuts, seeds and some more fruit both dried(small amounts) or fresh. By 5pm, you can then have dinner where you want to add in some protein. I typically have lentils, beans and also include some brown or red rice.
Ever since I have started incorporating IF as a lifestyle for me, I have also transitioned into a plant based diet, eating mostly (95%) fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, organic tofu and a lot of fermented foods like tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi. The other 5% is for times I eat out, or social events where I do take in some seafood (rarely).
This is not to say that people wanting to do IF lifestyle have to also become vegetarian!! No, you can still do IF - I am just sharing what and how I do this and how I have found it to be most beneficial and also what I have learned about it in terms of the physical and physiological benefits on the body including the effects of a plant based diet.
However this has been a transition and a choice that I have chosen for me to follow this lifestyle.
I have also supported my coaching clients in also integrating this into their lifestyles with much success. If you wish to know more about it, let me know, happy to have a chat about it!
Also, if you are interested in this topic of fasting, look out for my future blog where I go through my 16 day water fast journey to self discovery, wellness and healing! What an experience that was for me!!
Until then if you want more info on this topic, please check out the video below: