Did you know that an average person spends 15% of their daily thoughts on food wondering- “What’s for my next meal?” That’s why I love FASTING. One of my favourite benefits with a fasting routine is that it saves me a lot of time in the morning. I usually skip breakfast and just have my version of a bulletproof coffee or my mushroom morning elixir. I usually have lunch after 2pm because I’m not hungry until late afternoon. Imagine how much time, money, & energy you could be saving if you started fasting, today! In the Self-Care Goddess podcast episode #59, I talk about Fasting; a topic that has become widely popular these days although it’s been practiced by so many people for centuries, especially for religious reasons. Both men and women of all age ranges have jumped on this health and fitness solution to help them achieve their health goals.
The following information highlights just a few of the golden nuggets from this episode, listen to the entire episode here.
Advantages Of Fasting
Intermittent fasting, is a dietary pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, it is often called a “Miracle Diet”. But there is nothing miraculous about it, the benefits are incredible and the research is astounding. Fasting helps to reduce inflammation, lose stubborn weight, increase energy and mental clarity, and even boost your immunity. Fasting cleanses our body of toxins and forces cells into processes that are not usually stimulated when a steady stream of fuel from food is always present. When we fast, the body does not have its usual access to glucose, forcing the cells to resort to other means and materials to produce energy. As a result, the body begins gluconeogenesis, a natural process of producing its own sugar. The liver helps by converting non-carbohydrate materials like lactate, amino acids, and fats into glucose energy. Because our bodies conserve energy during fasting, our basal metabolic rate becomes more efficient, thereby lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Ketosis, another process that occurs later into the fast cycle, happens when the body burns stored fat as its primary power source. This can be ideal for weight loss and balancing blood sugar levels. Fasting puts the body under mild “good” stress, called hormesis, which makes our cells stronger and helps us build resilience.
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The 9 Fasting Myths
Numerous myths get perpetuated about intermittent fasting and meal frequency. However, many of these rumours are not true. In my podcast I debunk the most common fasting myths:
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Fasting Myth #1: Fasting is like reducing your calories!
Calorie reduction does not give you the same benefits as fasting, especially the hormonal changes. During fasting, unlike caloric reduction, your metabolism stabilizes or even goes up to maintain normal energy levels. Hormones like adrenaline and growth hormone increase to maintain energy and muscle mass. Blood sugar and insulin levels go down as the body changes from burning sugar to burning FAT!
Fasting Myth #2: Fasting Decreases Your Metabolism
On the contrary, our metabolism actually increases during fasting and our hormones allow for a switch in energy source from food to body fat with no drop in energy. Caloric reduction, on the other hand will lower your metabolism because your body cannot run a deficit indefinitely so it will decrease your energy expenditure.
Fasting Myth #3: Fasting Makes You Lose Muscle
Muscles like other types of proteins is not designed to store energy. Your body does not start using your muscle as an energy source. We have evolved to survive periods of fasting and your body will ONLY resort to burning muscle when you have less than 4% of body fat (elite male marathon runners have approx. 8%). When you fast your body is equipped to burn fat and protein (muscle) is actually spared. Therefore, rather than burning muscle we start conserving it during a fast. Fasting also stimulates growth hormone secretion, which helps to maintain lean body mass.
Fasting Myth #4: Fasting Causes Low Blood Sugar
There are multiple mechanisms in our body to keep blood sugar level in the proper range, so it’s tightly monitored. Thus, fasting cannot affect it. This tightly monitored process happens while you sleep, every night. Your body breaks down glycogen (stored glucose) in the liver to provide glucose while you fast overnight.
Fasting Myth #5: Brain Cells Can Only Use Glucose For Energy
Glucose is not absolutely necessary for brain function. It is widely researched and known that human brains, can also use ketone bodies, unlike other animals. Ketones can provide the majority of the energy we need. When glucose is not available, ketones are produced by metabolizing fat. Ketones allow us to function optimally without food, without them we would have not survived as a species. Ketones are able to cross the blood-brain barrier to fuel our brain cells. Ketones, can meet up to 75% of our brain’s energy requirements.
Fasting Myth #6: Fasting Results in Overeating
Studies do show that the day after your fast there is a slight increase in caloric intake. But there is still an overall caloric deficit because of the calories you didn’t consume on your fasting days. With repeated fasts, the opposite is true. So overtime your appetite tends to decrease as fasting duration increases. I have personally experienced this.
Fasting Myth #7: Fasting Deprives the Body Of Nutrients
There is enough time to make up for missed meals before and after the fast by eating nutrient-dense foods, especially for fasts less than 24hrs. With fasts over 24hrs it is recommended to take a multivitamin. A low-carbohydrate diet is recommended to increase percentage of fats and proteins, because the body will recycle them during fasts. Here’s a fun fact: The longest fast recorded lasted 383 days, a simple multivitamin prevented any vitamin deficiency.
Fasting Myth #8: It’s Not Healthy!
The most obvious benefit is weight loss & fat burning. Other proven benefits are but not limited to: improve mental clarity & concentration, lower blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood cholesterol, increase energy, decrease inflammation, & extend life. Fasting (cleanses, detoxifications, purifications), used to be a more common way to clear the body of toxins & rejuvenate.
Fasting Myth #9: Women Should Not Fast!
Women can fast, but differently than men. Menstruating women should be fasting according to their menstrual cycle. More specifically, women are encouraged to fast during the follicular, menstruating, and ovulatory phases, but because the luteal phase is the hormone building phase, it is not recommended to fast.
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How To Begin Your Fasting Journey?
With any fasting regime, you want to identify a time you’re fasting and a time that you’re feeding. There are obvious fasting and feeding windows. My Hot Tip If you want to try fasting today begin slow and try pushing back your breakfast by 30mins, then 1hr, and then keep going until you have physical sensations and clear hunger signs, Also, another easy way to begin fasting is to ensure that you don’t eat anything 3 hrs before bed, so that the majority of the time you’re fasting overnight. Here are 3 types of fasting that have demonstrated positive effects on health and overall longevity:
- Time-Restricted Feeding
This is the process of limiting calorie intake to a specific timeframe that aligns with our circadian rhythm. Eating meals only during an 8-to-12-hour period each day while fasting between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., is an example of aligning with our circadian rhythm. Body systems work better when synchronized with one another; midnight snacking when our body usually sleeps throws our natural repair system out of sync. In addition, giving our bodies more time to repair is beneficial for our health.
2. Intermittent Calorie Restriction
The practice of reducing the number of calories consumed in a day. Research has focused on a two-day diet where calories are reduced in half and carbohydrates are limited for two consecutive days in a week. This approach puts the body through short and intensive therapy. The intermittent calorie restriction approach also reminds us that we do not need to consume constantly. When we do consume we can choose wisely and continue normal activities and exercise with reduced fuel.
3. Periodic Fasting with Fasting Mimicking Diets
This means limiting calorie intake for three to five days, prompting the cells to deplete glycogen stores and begin ketosis. While this can be done without eating food, it isn’t considered the safest option. A specific five-day calorie-limited diet (around 1,000 calories per day) is sufficient to mimic fasting without depleting nutrients. It is speculated that this method is superior to the two-day fast, allowing the body to enter ketosis and begin a true cleanse.
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Take Home Message
From the research that is out there fasting has numerous benefits and advantages over other eating regimens. The benefits can also be on a molecular such as lowering insulin, improving human growth hormone, and decreasing inflammation. We’re all different. While fasting some people enjoy a little freedom at the end of the week, while others would rather indulge a little every day. Age, sex, weight, and activity level all play a part in what’s a healthy diet. Skipping meals may not be the best way to manage your anxiety, weight if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding. Even if you fast sometimes, you still need to make healthy food and life choices overall. When you eat is important, but what you eat matters. Fasting can be a powerful tool for rejuvenating your mind and body, However, for some this style of food consumption fits naturally into their lives. For others, it’s just too hard to make it work. Weigh the pros, cons, facts, and myths, and make the best decision for you and your health goals. I am here to help. Schedule a FREE call to discover your goals, hear more about our programs and co-create a plan to help you meet your goals.
Listen to the full podcast episode #59 on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
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