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Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

GreenNote Life

Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Benefits of intermittent fasting

I’m going to give you two questions to ask yourself. Think about it. Answer it honestly. Then after you read this newsletter, give thought to how you may be able to incorporate a different approach to your current routine.


Question #1: How many meals and snacks do you consume in a typical day?

Question #2: How much time are in-between consuming those meals/snacks? Two hours? Three hours? Six hours? Twelve?

Multiple times a week I will not consume a meal or a snack for twelve consecutive hours. Twelve hours? Yes. And it’s really pretty easy. It would look like this: upon finishing dinner I will not eat anything until the next morning. So say I finished dinner at 8:00 PM, I won’t have anything (with exception of water, tea, or coffee) until 8:00 AM the following morning which is a full twelve hours, not ten hours, not eleven and a half hours, twelve hours. That is an example of intermittent fasting. Stated another way, intermittent fasting is an "eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating”. Some folks already eat like this but others maybe not.

There are many fantastic benefits for intermittent fasting. First though I need to point out that this may not be for everyone. For example, if you have any health issues such as as Diabetes this wouldn’t be advisable and perhaps if you are on certain medications. Also, it may not be as helpful for women to fast for extended periods, as studies have shown (1). Men can go for much longer periods without refueling. Think back to the hunter-gather days where tribes may have only eaten every couple of days or so. They couldn’t just get up in the middle of the night and heat up a Hot Pocket in the microwave and wash it down with a bottle of Mountain Dew.

As I mentioned, there are benefits to intermittent fasting which are listed below. I personally find it helpful for me in how I feel, especially with my gut and brain all while my metabolism is in fact being boosted . We have been so well-trained to be constantly eating or grazing that we “think” we need food but when you are mindful and listen to what your body is saying, you may find that it would be best to delay re-fueling.

This week I linked to an article on my FB page by Yuri Elkarim, "3 Metabolism Mistakes You Might Be Making”. He states, “Frequent eating leads to consistently higher blood sugar, which leads to chronically high insulin levels, and that leads to increased fat storage…”. There are some great nuggets of information in this article, be sure to check it out. Now to those benefits.

What are some intermittent fasting benefits?

  • Weight Loss: it can help you lose weight and belly fat, without having to consciously restrict calories (2, 3). Note fat that is in the abdominal cavity can lead to disease.

  • Insulin Resistance: can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3-6% and fasting insulin levels by 20-31% (2). This should protect against Type 2 Diabetes.

  • Inflammation: some studies show reductions in markers of inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases (4, 5, 6).

  • Heart Health: may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance. These are all risk factors for heart disease. (1, 7).

  • Cancer: animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer. (8, 9, 10, 11).

  • Brain Health: increases a brain called BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and may help the growth of new nerve cells (12, 13, 14). It may also protect against Alzheimer’s disease (15).

  • Anti-aging: can extend lifespan in rats. Studies show that fasted rats live as much as 36-83% longer (16, 17).

Good stuff.

Take a look at your eating patterns. Are you constantly eating? Only wait a couple of hours until you re-fuel? If you don’t have any medical issues, you may want to consider intermittent fasting. A good way to start is the no eating from dinner until later the next morning, a full twelve hours. Men could go longer than that. Should you be in doubt, consult your health care professional.

As I stated, this works well for me. If I’m doing an intense training in the early morning, I wouldn’t do that in a fasted state. However, if going for a walk, easy jog, or some light resistance training, this would be great in a fasted state. One thing to remember is to not overeat after fasting. It’s not an excuse to consume a lot.

If you try intermittent fasting or not, now is a good opportunity to honestly evaluate your food consumption. Look at what time of day you are eating and how often. Then compare that to how much physical activity you are doing throughout the day. As always it’s good to be self-ware.

To your journey,

Lisa Schaffer

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