This has to be one of the best-kept “secrets” of the health/fitness community. I’ve had days where I know I’ve over eaten or haven’t quite exercised much as I should have, but as long as I stick to my intermittent fasting routine, I wake up a whole new person. It’s a real life reset button! It’s also been an absolute life-saver when dealing with acute SIBO/GI flare ups. I know that no matter how rough things may get, I can always fast it out.
Intermittent fasting isn’t any type of calorie restrictive diet fad; it’s simply a way of keeping your eating schedule to within a certain time frame. We put a lot of stress on our bodies by constantly trying to fuel it when it’s not needed. That’s a lot of energy going towards digestion instead of helping the rest of our bodies perform more efficiently and keeping our immune system healthy, not to mention the benefits it has on the brain and overall cognitive function by stimulating the production and release of BDNF (which helps improve learning and memory in the hippocampus.
It’s common sense that eating late can negatively impact your sleep schedule and digestion, yet it’s something so many people still do on a daily basis. Sometimes there are social obligations or travel complications and it can be unavoidable (or seem to be), but there are many ways to go about fasting. With all of its benefits and how easy it is to do, it’s amazing more people haven’t caught on!
It’s fascinating to me to see fasting take place as a natural instinct in most if not all animals. I’ve noticed when my dog is sick he consumes only water, if that. I’ve seen him go a day or two without any sustenance, which is a long time for a hound! I’ve seen him go 4-5 days when he was his sickest. He instinctively knows it’s probably in his body’s best interest to focus his energy towards healing and fighting off foreign invaders instead of digestion. The same goes for children as well.
Benefits of Fasting:
- Hormone regulation
- Resets and improves your immune system
- Resets insulin and leptin levels (makes them more sensitive and responsive)
- Starves cancer cells (which run off glucose!)
- Gives your hard-working digestive system a break to repair and heal issues similar to leaky gut, IBS, SIBO, Crohn’s, etc.
- Promotes brain health and cognitive function – learning, focus and memory consolidation
- Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol
- Prevents and fights inflammation and common diseases
- Maintain a consistent sleep routine
- Allows your body to burn and run off fat instead of carbs and sugar (this ultimately gives your body more energy)
- Weight loss
- And many more!
What to do:
- Stop eating after dinner (I usually eat about 6pm and don’t eat past 7pm)
- Go at least 12 hours without eating. My routine seems to be at about 14 hours, but fasting anywhere between 12-16 hours is recommended.
- Give yourself time after you wake up before eating breakfast. This is the perfect time to drink plenty of water and try and morning stretch sequence to warm up your body and metabolism for the day.
Although I prefer to fast at night (this is easiest for me due to my work and workout schedules), there are other ways to go about intermittent fasting. Many people have already taken to the 5-2 diet. This is where they eat normally 5 days of the week and restrict their food or calorie intake the other two days of the week. It all depends what you prefer, I just found it easiest for me to commit to the nighttime fasting, which requires minimal effort.
I’ve heard many people use the excuse that they get too hungry to commit to my fasting routine, but there are many quick fixes to this. I’ve noticed the ones who make these comments are the ones still relying on a diet based primarily on simple carbs instead of healthy protein and fats, which make you feel full much longer and help you perform better. By avoiding breads, pastas, gluten, etc. and having well-balanced fat and plant-based meals, you won’t feel the need to eat as frequently or as much.