“You’ll go into starvation mode!!”
As I hear this statement echo through my ears I can’t help to think, dang, I should have not mentioned the word FASTING.
Out of all the ideas, plans, diets, and programs out there that pertain to health and wellness, nothing compares to the game changer in my health like fasting. It’s not new or cutting-edge science, but rather an adaptation that our primal ancestors had to deal with on a daily basis. Food was often hard to come by and we as early humans were forced to go without food for extended periods of time and still maintain strength, endurance, immune system and optimal brain function.
The type of fasting that I want to discuss and explain is the short duration of intermittent fasting. This type of fasting is considered less than a 24 hour fast and would be broken down into a fast/feed ratio of 16:8, 18:6, 20:4. It’s nothing more than stop eating after supper, say 7 pm, and not having any caloric food or drink until the afternoon of the next day. It’s a “choose your own adventure” program that is empowering and free!!
Now why would someone want to willingly deprive themselves of food? Well, for the people that can safely fast (children, underweight, pregnant and specific metabolic situation individuals should not fast) the benefits included are:
✔️ Balance insulin and correct insulin resistance
✔️ Boosts the immune system
✔️ Fat loss
✔️ Lowers cholesterol
✔️ Repair to body systems
✔️ Self-cleaning of the body – autophagy
✔️ Decreased tissue inflammation
✔️ Slows aging of the body – inside and out
But what about the starvation mode, muscle loss and the lack of energy and mood swings that happen to you when you fast? Don’t you just gorge on everything after the fast? Good questions deserve good answers. First off if we were designed to actually need food every 2-4 hours, we wouldn’t be alive as a species. Starvation mode (idea of the body slowing down the metabolism in order to preserve life) doesn’t happen during a fast. Fasting ramps up the metabolism and growth hormone to prevent essential tissue, like protein, from being used prematurely and adrenaline raises (metabolism speeds up) in the blood stream to allow the body to become more alert and energized. Exactly what our ancestors would have needed to survive, to be ramped up and strong to find food and more importantly, avoid predators that could have easily eaten us if we become slow, weak and dimwitted. Also note that muscle loss through fasting only happens once body fat is below 4%. That is SUPER LOW!! As for gorging on food after a fast, yes you may experience the excitement of a delicious meal or want to sneak taste of dessert and that is fine. Be careful and be conscience of what and how much food you have between your fasts. Remember: You can’t out fast a terrible feast.
How does one start intermittent fasting? Well, you would think that is as simple as just not eating for 16 plus hours and you’re done. Yes, you can do that, but it may not be pleasant and you’ll probably never attempt fasting again. First steps to fasting is to attain metabolic flexibility and become fat-adapted. This is attained by following a low carbohydrate (<150 gm/day), adequate fat and protein diet that allows your body to switch from burning sugar as primary energy to burning fat as the number one fuel. After a few weeks to a couple months, one should be able to go longer without feeling hungry and narrow a feeding window to 8, 6 or even 4 hours in day. You’ll probably have lost some fat along the way and most likely feel better than you have in a long while. If you feel weak or dizzy abandon the fast and try again another day. Stress, sickness and exercise can all trigger hunger that needs to be addressed.
While fasting keep your water (still or sparkling) intake up. It helps to maintain your hydration and helps to curb any little hunger pains that may sneak up (and they will!) Coffee and tea are also good beverages for fasting if they are black and used in moderation (careful on caffeine intake) or chose decaf.
Now that you are all excited about fasting, I suggest that you get it a try. If you have any concerns about it, please contact your doctor before starting. They may not be totally cool with the idea, but at least find out if you have any pre-existing issues that may make it questionable to explore.