Unless you have been away in Timbuktu for the last few years with no wifi you have almost certainly heard about intermittent fasting (IF)! You may have wondered if it is something that you should try. You may have questions about it – what does it actually involve, what can you eat, what are the benefits, is it a great way to lose weight for everyone, etc, etc? If you are one of the almost 65% of Australian adults who are overweight you may be carefully considering IF as a possible way to take control of your health.
Although it almost seems like it’s trendy to be overweight these days there are serious health implications that arise from being too heavy. How many elderly obese people do you see around? Not many, because they do not live long, healthy happy lives. This is a really important concern when thinking about your overall wellbeing, from a mental and emotional standpoint as well.
I always like to be able to give you as much information as possible in one little Blog or video, in order that you are then able to move beyond indecision and procrastination and take the next best step to improve your wellbeing. Remember only you can heal you!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
IF is not a diet but is more a schedule of eating time and fasting (non-eating) time over a period. There are 3 main methods of undertaking IF:
- 5:2 – where you eat ‘normally’ for 5 days of the week and then on the 2 other days you eat about 25% of your recommended calorie intake, so about 500-600 calories for most people
- 16:8 – where you do all your eating in 8 hours of the day and don’t eat for 16, most people skip breakfast to facilitate this
- Eat-Stop-Eat – where you fast for 24 hours once or twice a week ie. Eat dinner one night and then don’t eat again until dinner the next night
How does IF cause weight loss?
If done correctly IF is usually very successful as a weight loss method and this is largely because two things. Firstly, the effect that fasting has on your hormones, specifically:
- increasing Human Growth Hormone, up to 500%, HGH has a big influence on fat loss and muscle gain
- decreasing insulin, which makes stored fat more accessible
- increasing norepinephrine which is also a fat burning hormone
Secondly, you are eating less often so you are consuming less calories overall. Basic maths will tell you that if there is a lower number of calories going in and a greater number going out you are going to lose weight, and more importantly, you will lose fat!
What are the other benefits of IF?
Although most people will take up the practice of IF for weight loss purposes this is not its only benefit, by far. Remember that long before we had a global epidemic of obesity, human beings had been fasting forever, often for religious or spiritual purposes but also just because there actually wasn’t food available at regular intervals.
Studies into the benefits of IF have found things such as:
– increased metabolism
– increased cellular repair, including autophagy which is literally the process whereby cells in the body clean themselves
– increased longevity
– increased immune function, including protection against serious illness such as heart disease and cancer
– increased insulin resistance, protecting against diabetes
– reduced inflammation, which is the underlying physiological cause of many chronic illnesses
– improved brain health, including clarity of thought
Sounds great, are there any reasons not to take up IF?
Unfortunately there is no magic pill for any wellbeing concern that is going to suit every single person on the planet, and with this in mind I would strongly encourage you to consult a medical professional – naturopath, nutritionist or GP – before taking up IF, so that all your personal circumstances can be considered.
If you have any history of being underweight or having eating disorders IF is not for you. There is also some evidence that IF can cause problems for women, due to its significant hormonal effects, so especially if you already have issues with hormone balance this may not be the best way for you to lose weight.
My personal story
I started doing the 5:2 in mid 2014 because a work colleague was achieving amazing weight loss with it. Although I wouldn’t have technically been classified as overweight I wanted to lose about 5 kilos (really not sure why exactly! I think mainly I was still in the loved up phase of a relationship where there was a little too much wine being consumed and late meals!).
I have to be honest and say that fasting wasn’t easy! I dreaded those two days but then I absolutely loved the fact that I could literally eat and drink whatever I wanted for the other 5 days of the week! After about 3-4 months the weight loss was noticeable. After about a year I had lost 7-8 kilos and was actually below what I had always thought of as my ‘dream-weight’. A few people close to me told me not to lose any more weight!
I then moved to a regime of fasting 1 day and doing another ‘low-calorie’ day, where I would make sure I was well below 1500 calories for that day. Six months later I moved into full time self employment working from home and thought that it would be hard to fast without all the distractions of a workplace so I moved to just 2 low calorie days per week. I probably gained back a kilo or two.
Then a few months later I watched That Sugar Film, gave up sugar and stopped counting calories altogether! Another 6 months later I reduced my meat consumption by about 30%. These were all things that I did because I learnt about the dangers of consuming these foods, especially in large quantities. So, now I am a true flexitarian! I only eat sugar for special occasions, I hardly ever eat red meat and go vegetarian around 50% of the time. I do intermittent fasting 3-4 times a week. I probably don’t quite do 16:8 but more like 15:9 or 14:10! I don’t count calories and I don’t weigh myself and I still fit into all the clothes I bought at the height of my 5:2 phase! This works for me. I am healthy, strong and fit and I really love to eat the whole food based diet that I have now, and I have always loved to eat!
For other blogs about food just search the Blog page – there are a few there talking about sugar and clean eating!
When you are finding it hard to motivate yourself to take action you might need to work on your Third Chakra, the Solar Plexus. This is our power centre and is where we access our ‘get up and go’. It is also intertwined with our self belief. Let me know if you would like a copy of my 3rd Chakra Tips sheet. If you would like to have a Wellbeing Assessment and Energetic Balance to get that 3rd Chakra in good working order then Book now!
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this topic, or anything else to do with your Wellbeing.