The Low Down on Intermittent Fasting

The Low Down on Intermittent Fasting

What is intermittent fasting? Is it legit? Is it just another trendy topic floating through the health and wellness space? Here’s what you need to know.

The concept of intermittent fasting is not a new revelation, through human evolution we began to move away from it, but it does seem to be making a comeback. Intermittent fasting is essentially the practice of following an eating period and a fasting period throughout the day. Most commonly, 16:8 or 12:12, fasting to eating. I’m sure you’re wondering, why the hell you would want to limit the hours you can eat, and if its even a healthy practice.

As it goes, nothing is black and white, neither is intermittent fasting. There are pros and cons, and they are totally dependent on you & your relationship with food. Let’s review, shall we?

Some Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting allows our digestive systems to take a rest. It takes our bodies about 8 hours to digest food, so as you can imagine, if you’re not ever leaving at least 8 hours between eating, your digestive system literally does not get a rest.

Fat burning. Who doesn’t want to burn fat? Again, it takes your body about 8 hours to digest food. When we give it a break before eating again, our bodies get to focus on other things…like fat burning. When you’re in a fasted state, the insulin levels in your blood significantly drop, which triggers your body into fat burning mode.

Reduces insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when our cells do not respond properly to the hormone insulin. Insulin makes cells in the body scoop up glucose in the blood stream to use as fuel, or sore as fat. When insulin resistant, glucose can build up in the blood stream leading too high blood sugar levels. When your body is insulin resistant, it continues to produce insulin to try to handle the excess glucose in the blood stream, often leading to high insulin levels. Intermittent fasting can help reduce insulin resistance which in turn, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as the reduction of insulin resistance means the reduction of blood sugar levels.

It promotes cellular repair. This is an important one. Again, are you sick of this yet when our bodies aren’t digesting food, they can focus on other things, such as cellular repair. Cellular repair happens in a fasted state as the body can begin a process called autophagy that remove waste from cells. Autophagy has the ability to aid in the protecting us from diseases such as cancer and Alzheimers, so it certainly is a process we want to encourage. This is so important especially when we think about the cancer rates we’re facing these days. Also, for your vanity, cellular repair means younger looking skin, now who doesn’t want that?

Energy increase. Who doesn’t want a boost, especially first thing in the morning. With your body getting that break from digestion, your energy increases. Every time we eat gives us the opportunity to spike our blood sugar. When we spike our blood sugar, it has to drop again. With that drop in blood sugar comes a drop in energy. Less exposure to blood sugar spikes, less opportunity for a decrease in energy.

When Intermittent Fasting Might Not Be Your Best Bet

You’re diabetic. If you’re diabetic, consult with your health care practitioner. Intermittent fasting effects your insulin levels, so this is definitely something to speak with a practitioner about, especially if you’re on medication.

You have a history of disordered eating. If you’re recovering or in the midst of battling disordered eating, this is not for you. Restriction of any sort can breed disordered eating patterns.

You are pregnant or nursing. When practicing intermittent fasting, often because we are eating in a shorter time frame, our caloric intake decreases. This is not the time for decreasing your calorie intake, you need those calories to help grow or feed your baby. If you’re battling morning sickness, chances are fasting for long periods will make it worse.

You’ve tried it, and you feel hungry or low energy in the mornings. Likely your caloric intake is not high enough. Try by upping your intake, but whatever you do, do not ignore those hunger cues. If increasing your calories during your eating period is not helping, intermittent fasting may not be for you.

It’s feeling restrictive or like an obligation. Eating, whether its when, how much, or what should not always be on your mind — this, coming from a foodie. Obsession isn’t healthy, and stressing about when you can or cant eat is doing more harm than the benefits that come from IF.

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