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Learn how intermittent fasting can supercharge your health
Have you hit a wall in your weight loss on your keto diet or other dietary plans? Are you looking for a way to break this stall on the scale? If so, turn to intermittent fasting to not only help with weight loss but to supercharge your health! When it comes to fasting, sometimes the word in itself can seem scary. The thought of restricting food for a period of time can seem very repulsive to people. However, one thing that you must realize is that we aren’t designed to eat three meals a day! In fact, going for a prolonged period without food is actually advantageous and can boost your brainpower.
Think about paleolithic times. Do you think they ate three meals a day? No, during the day they hunted and gathered their food during the day to feast by the fire at night. I know this isn’t the era of the saber tooth tiger or wooly mammoth, but maybe we should base our life on how they lived. It’s not healthy to always have an overabundance of food, really it’s counterintuitive. We are meant for times of famine! Think about the word breakfast – there’s two words in there. Break and fast. When you eat breakfast, you are essentially breaking your fast! The conventional world always says breakfast is most important meal of the day! This is far from the truth. Actually, breakfast is not essential and it will give you more energy throughout the day to fast right through.
Types of fasting
Before I discuss intermittent fasting health benefits, I am going to briefly go through several types of fasts. Overall, there are many different ways to incorporate fasting into your life! You can choose to eat within a time-restricted window or even a 24 hour fast on a daily basis. It is entirely up to you and there is no one size fits all type of fast. I’ve even taken on a 3 day fast before and found out that it was absolutely rejuvenating. An important thing is to always make sure that you clear fasting with your health care provider before delving in.
Eating within a window of time / 16:8 method
This happens to be my favorite type of fast and it is easy to incorporate into your everyday life! In this type of intermittent fast, you are mostly eating within an 8-hour timeframe and fasting for 16 hours. For example, if you finish eating by 8 PM, then you wouldn’t partake in any food until noon the next day. This is the standard time frame for this protocol, but you can fast longer! In fact, the longer you stay in the fasted state, the more metabolic practice you will get at burning stored body fat, and the deeper your fat adaptation will get1.
Generally, if one of my patients wants to take on this type of fast, I tell them to start with smaller increments of the fasting intervals. For example, start by ending your meal in the evening around 7 pm in the evening, and do not partake in breakfast until about 7 am the next day. This would allow you to start the fast at a 12-hour interval and then you can gradually increase to the desired interval of 16 hours. As I mentioned earlier, you can go past the 16-hour fasting interval if you want and narrow your window of eating. For example, maybe you want to stop eating a 7 pm at night and then fast for 20 hours, which will allow you to eat around 3 pm the next day. You then could then choose a 4-hour interval ( which would mean you would eat between 3 to 7)instead of an 8 hour one. If you do choose a longer fasting interval, that is very beneficial for you in terms of fat-burning and cellular repair!
This method of intermittent fasting is just as it seems, you fast for 24 hours at a time. Essentially, you could have an eating interval from 5-6 PM and then eat the next day at 6. As long as your fasts are 24 hours, then you have conquered this method! I would recommend only embark on this mission once you have conquered at least fasting for 20 hours at one time.
I must say that this is excellent for weight loss but can be challenging for hunger pangs. Fasting for 24 hours can be severe for some people, but eating a high-fat, low-carb diet can make a 24-hour fast easier, as a higher fat diet will tend to normalize your hunger hormones and provide improved satiety for a more extended period of time.
If you are already on a keto-based diet and want to do a 24 hour fast, you can start off by doing 16 -20 hour fasts first and then slowly taking on the longer fast. The key is to go slow at first and not jump right into a 24 hour fast because it may place more stress on your body than it can actually endure.
This one is very similar to the 24-hour fasts except for it’s only two days a week, and on those days as women, you restrict your calories to around 500. On the other days, you would just eat like you normally do on a ketogenic diet or whatever diet plan you choose. I have tried this method and I must say that I really like it. There have been days where I have thought that I would fast all throughout the day and then I end up eating. In this case, I didn’t ruin my fast because I still did not eat very much and kept myself into ketosis.
Water fasts for longer than one day
This one is like it sounds! Drinking only water for a couple of days or longer! Or you can modify it by drinking coffee, tea or broth. Back in March of this year, I did a 3 day fast and only consumed coffee, tea, and broth. In my coffee and tea, I did not put anything in it and consumed a bone broth. I found that this fast made me feel really good, even though I did get some detox symptoms such as chills and malaise on the second day.
An important thing to remember about this fast, is that it should only be done under the supervision of a healthcare provider. The reason for this is because of how much your body detoxes and the symptoms you may experience from this process. Some other symptoms that you may experience, include heart palpitations and other headaches. I don’t recommend this type of fasting unless you are personally adapted to fasting and have done intermittent fasting for a protracted period of time.
Before we go any further and discuss intermittent fasting health benefits, I would like to brief you on detox symptoms. I am really going to elaborate on this one. Detox symptoms are very common when on a keto diet (hence the “keto flu”) or when fasting because as your body eliminates fat cells, waste is also released. That is why it is extremely important to detox when you are taking on longer fasts or on a strict keto diet. One of the best ways to detox is through a sauna. Boy, I wish I had had my sauna when I did that fast back in March! It would’ve helped a lot with the detox symptoms I was experiencing. I am starting to get the gumption up to do another one, now that I have a sauna. I can’t believe I haven’t done a long fast since then haha. Sorry, it is hard for me to take on longer fasts like that because I really love food!
If you want to read more about a sauna, please consult my article called, ” Seven ways sauna therapy will heal your body.” A sauna is good for more than detox, it is also essential for body rejuvenation. I would highly recommend that you purchase one!
Purchase a copy of Dr. Jason Fung’s Guide to intermittent fasting
If you are wanting really good savvy resource on fasting, I would recommend you to purchase Dr. Jason Fung’s complete guide to fasting.
In this publication, he goes over all types of fasting from intermittent to extended day fasting. He describes how he has helped patients heal their type 2 diabetes by taking on 2 weeks fasts or longer! Believe it or not, people can fast for this long! Usually after a few days, the hunger pangs dissipate, which makes it a lot easier to fast.
Benefits of fasting
Okay, so now we are ready to dive into the juicy intermittent fasting health benefits. Yay! It is so amazing that restricting your food can be so beneficial for your body. Who would have thought? I remember when I first heard about fasting, I thought how crazy is it to skip a meal, or even not eat for a day or more. However, once I learned about the benefits, I became very motivated to take on fasting. Once I incorporated fasting, I was so happy that I did!
Benefit #1- Intermittent fasting promotes weight loss
This may be an obvious benefit, but it is still worth talking about! There are people that I know who have lost weight by IF and eating whatever they wanted by just eating once a day. Yes, it’s true. Now, yes these people still did limit their portion sizes, but needless to say they did eat whatever they want. If you are one of those who have difficulty with a keto diet, then this may be something you try. Now, I do not recommend that you go to the extreme and eat doughnuts, cookies, cake, or junk food. I am sure that people have gotten by with intermittent fasting and eating junk food, however, I do not recommend this at all! I think you should still follow some sort of diet regimen such as paleo diet to stay in at least a mild ketosis and get nutritional benefits.
If you are going to fast and eat only once or twice a day, I think you need to make sure that the food you eat counts. If you consume nothing but junk food are you really giving your body the nutrients it needs? No, you are not. Even if you are losing the weight, you are not giving your mitochondria the fuel it needs.
How IF helps with weight loss
The way intermittent fasting helps with weight loss all has to do with improving the use of your insulin. There are two ways that it does this:
Decreases your insulin sensitivity, which in turn can help prevent weight gain and reduce your risk of diabetes.
Second, fasting decreases your insulin levels, which can cue your body to start burning stored fat instead of glucose.
Intermittent fasting works very similarly to a keto diet. Imagine how much insulin use is improved if you do both keto and IF! This would be a powerhouse for your body! One question that always seems to come up about IF is this, ” If I skip meals doesn’t that slow down my metabolism?” That is such an old school and conventional question. Believe it or not, it turns out that fasting increases your metabolism.
When you fast, your body is getting energy from burning fat rather than burning food. Also, adrenaline is used to release stored glycogen and to facilitate fat-burning, even if blood sugar is high. The increased adrenaline levels invigorate us and stimulates our metabolism 1. So tell your mother or best friend that they are wrong and to do more research on fasting and weight loss!
Benefit # 2- Improved energy and moods
Improved energy and moods are one of the intermittent fasting health benefits. Do you have periods of feeling low on energy or do you snap at your loved ones? Yes, I too have been there. If this is you, then consider taking on intermittent fasting. Everyday we tend to take on all these hats and there are increased societal pressures to do so much! The good news is that fasting helps your mitochondria, which will, in turn, give you more steps in your stride to deal with the everyday rat race. Improved energy is one of the many benefits of intermittent fasting for your health!
How does intermittent fasting improve energy and moods?
The way IF does this is by mitochondria regeneration, and when you fast you create new mitochondria. Yes out with the old and in with the new! Improved energy also has a lot to do with the adrenaline that is released from the stored glycogen. You are essentially getting energy from burning fat rather than from food 2! It helps with your moods because you are burning ketones and that is the preferred fuel to your brain. When your brain has its preferred energy, it puts you in a better mood.
Benefit#3- Improved mental clarity
Are you looking to improve your memory or concentration? Do you struggle with mental fogginess? If this is you, then try some intermittent fasting to help! When you eat, your body has to focus on the digestive process, which can be very complex. However, when you fast, your body doesn’t have to think about digestion! Your body is now focusing on producing ketones from burning fat and it is fueling your brain! According to Sayer Ji 2, dietary restriction increases the number of newly-generated neural cells in the adult brain. In other words, it may increase the brain’s capacity for plasticity and self-repair.
If I know I need to have a lot of mental power to do something, I like to take on a fast. In fact, the days that I work are my preferred days to fast because I know I need the most mental energy to problem solve. As a provider, I have a big responsibility so I like to make sure that mentally I am the sharpest when figuring out what to do for my patients. Fasting gives me what I need to do this!
Benefit #4-Improved women’s health and a decrease in breast cancer recurrence
Improvement in your womanhood is another one of the many intermittent fasting health benefits. It has been found over and over that diet and reproduction have a mutually beneficial relationship. Overweight and obesity in early adulthood appear to increase the risk of menstrual problems, hypertension in pregnancy, and subfertility3. Fasting can be prescribed as a safe medical intervention as well as a lifestyle regimen that can improve women’s health in many folds3.
One of my favorite things about fasting is that it can help prevent breast cancer from reoccurring! There was a study by JAMA oncology that goes through how fasting for at least 13 hours can reduce a women’s risk for breast cancer recurrence4.
Benefit #5- Can help with skin elasticity and decrease aging
Improved skin elasticity has to be one of my favorite intermittent fasting health benefits! That’s right beautiful glowing skin and fewer wrinkles via a natural anti-aging regimen. Tired of Botox and expensive skin regimens? That’s right IF has you covered and may even save you some money. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to naturally decrease the rate at which aging happens? I mean come on!
How fasting slows down the aging process
There are actual mechanisms in which fasting may actually lengthen life and slow down the aging process. It does this by autophagy up-regulation, improved stress resistance, and mitochondrial efficiency. These are among the cellular functions needed to hold off features associated with accelerated aging, such as free radical generation, excess caloric intake, chronic hyperglycemia, and fat accumulation 5. One study found that mice on fasting protocols lived around 83 percent longer than their normal-eating rodent friends6 .
Fasting makes you less vulnerable to the stress of the environment
In humans, a 2008 Ramadan study found that fasting protected body lipids from oxidative stress 7. Although several theories have been proposed to explain the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction, one hypothesis proposes that it acts by decreasing oxidative stress. In layman’s terms, intermittent fasting encourages your body to destroy damaged cells it no longer needs which, in turn, makes you less vulnerable to the stress of your environment.
Fasting to regenerate your skin cells
When I speak of damaged cells in your body, then, of course, I am also referring to those of the skin. That being said, I still also think it is good for you to use a good skin-care regimen that is organic-based and free from harsh chemicals.
Overall, there are many intermittent fasting health benefits. I only had time to cover a few of them in this podcast! However, I do suggest that you do your own research and discover more of them for yourself. The more you understand the multi-faceted benefits of taking on fasting, the more apt you will want to do it in the long run. In fact, when I do take on a fast, I find that reading about the benefits of fasting helps me to be more compliant with doing a fast. I think it really helps to reiterate those things to yourself, so you can have a reminder of the good that you are doing for your body!
Fung, J., & Moore, J. (2016). The complete guide to fasting: heal your body through intermittent, alternate-day, and extended fasting. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing.
i, S. (201AD). Regenerate Unlocking your body’s radical resilience through the new biology. Retrieved from https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/7-proven-ways-keep-your-brain-young 2
Nair, P. M. K., & Khawale, P. G. (2016). Role of therapeutic fasting in women’s health: An overview. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4960941/ 3
Marinac, C. R., Nelson, S. H., Breen, C. I., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Pierce, J. P., … Patterson, R. E. (2016). Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis. JAMA Oncology, 2(8), 1049. DOI: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0164 4de Cabo, R., Carmona-Gutierrez, D., Bernier, M., Hall, M. N., & Madeo, F. (2014, June 19). The search for antiaging interventions: from elixirs to fasting regimens. Retrieved January 21, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4254402/ 5
Bouchard, C., Tremblay, A., Després, J.-P., Nadeau, A., Lupien, P. J., Thériault, G., … Fournier, G. (1990). The Response to Long-Term Overfeeding in Identical Twins. New England Journal of Medicine, 322(21), 1477–1482. DOI: 10.1056/nejm199005243222101 <6
Asif, M. (2014). The prevention and control of type-2 diabetes by changing lifestyle and dietary patterns. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 3(1), 1. doi: 10.4103/2277-9531.127541 7
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