Right before Senior Prom, my friend told me she bought a dress that was 2 sizes too small and she was going to starve herself until the dress fit her.... let's just say, it didn't work out for her.
Years later, I heard of a new trend that is quickly becoming the world’s most popular health routine: “intermittent fasting”. My initial belief was that this was a “starve to get skinny” hoax. However, as more people are starting to intermittent fast for their own health goals and more research is being done, the more we are learning about the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting can be done in a safe and healthy way. It is not “starving yourself” but devoting different periods throughout the day for eating and for fasting. The most common way to fast is to restrict eating to an 8-hour period and then fasting for 16 hours (while there are more aggressive forms of fasting, we’ll focus on the 16/8 method). This is not as hard as it sounds! Unless you eat in your sleep (which is a real problem…) you fast as you sleep and then break that fast during breakfast. So often, intermittent fasting is just extending that fast for a couple more hours. For example, if you stop eating at 7 pm, you could start eating again at 11 am! (Half the time, I can’t stomach food early in the morning anyway, so it’s not hard to extend that fast for a couple more hours!) Although, food is a no-go while you’re fasting, please drink lots of water! Eating a lot of processed foods or over-indulging during the “eating period” will overrule the benefits of intermittent fasting, so when you are eating, eat nutritious, whole foods.
At this point, you’re hopefully realizing that it’s something that you could do if the benefits are tempting enough. So try this on for size:
- Cellular health: Fasting initiates important repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible, as well as removes waste material from the cells.
- Increased life expectancy: Studies are showing that we age slower and live longer when we consume fewer calories. I think the average American could due to cut back on a few needless calories.
- Hormone balance: Fasting reduces blood sugar/pressure and insulin levels. It also increases human growth hormone. This results in increased muscle, decreased fat, and decreased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- FAT reduction: Studies show that subjects burn more fat and lose weight. Fasting also increases your metabolic rate, which helps burn even more calories.
- Less Stress: Oxidative stress leads to aging and many chronic diseases. Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting enhances our ability to resist oxidative stress and inflammation.
- More Energy: Despite the fact, that less calories are consumed, people typically feel better and have more energy.
Can You Do It?
At this point, you’re (hopefully) excited to get started! Intermittent fasting is typically safe for most people, however, the elderly, pregnant women, those with health concerns or those who have a history of disordered eating should not try intermittent fasting or consult with a doctor before starting an intermittent fast.