Home Health and Fitness The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

There are a number of benefits of intermittent fasting when it comes to improved health, the potential increase to longevity as well as weight loss. This is certainly something worth looking into if you want to lose weight and haven't already.

Let's get the first objection out of the way first of all. Intermittent fasting is not the same as going for days without eating.

It is actually a technique where you extend the period between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the following day. Here's how you do it and why.

How to Do Intermittent Fasting

The how-to part is actually pretty simple. It just takes a little extra discipline and determination to make it work.

intermittent fastingThe aim is to create approximately 16 hours of not eating by bringing forward your last meal of the day, say to 8pm or earlier. It makes a lot of sense to make it even earlier because as you probably already know, it is best not to eat to close to bed time.

Once you have eaten your last meal of the day, you simply go to bed as normal and when you wake up next day, you skip an early breakfast and instead wait until as late as you can before eating your first meal of the day.

If you can wait until midday (assuming your last meal was at 8pm the previous evening), then you've just achieved your 16 hours of fasting.

Congratulations!

I personally tried this a while ago and found it to be so easy, I do it on a regular basis now.

In fact, I generally aim for my last meal to be at or before 6pm, then still not eat until 12 or later the next day.

Every now and then, I go even longer, by making my mid-day meal my last and waiting until midday the next day before eating again. That effectively gives me a 24 hour fast and I hardly noticed I was hungry!

The true beauty of timing your meals this way is that you completely miss a good eight hours of the fast because you actually sleep right the way through it! How beautifully simple and yet genius effective is that!

Why Fast Intermittently?

Now let's get to the "why" part of this and see what we are going to gain by making this small sacrifice.

I can tell you right away that this is like the kind of sacrifice you'd make in a chess game where you'd sacrifice say a bishop to get checkmate in a few moves down the line. It's that powerful!

The five main reasons to do this are:

  1. Fat burning
  2. Weight loss
  3. Increased cognitive function (better brain power)
  4. Anti-aging
  5. Body detoxification

That's a pretty impressive list of benefits, I'm sure you'll agree. So how does all that work?

Let's take each one separately and expand on things, starting with the first point:

Fat Burning and Weight Loss

These two go hand in hand as the more adipose fat you can burn off, the more weight you'll lose. When you lose that excess fat around your waist, you also start to look good, so there's another hidden benefit here!

When you go for a longer period of time without food, what happens is your stomach empties and your digestive system gets a chance to rest. It generally takes about 6 hours to digest a normal size, balanced meal, so by giving yourself 16 hours without food, you get a good 10 hours where your body gets a chance to do what it is designed to do when it's not digesting food.

It starts to heal itself.

Not many people realize this, but digesting food uses up about 80% of the body's energy. When we eat the usual 3 or more meals per day that we're accustomed to eating and especially grabbing that late night snack that we're addicted to doing, we literally never give our poor bodies a chance to stop digesting food!

Now you will store a good amount of sugars (glucose) from the food you ate the previous day in your liver and burn some through activity (including digesting that food). But overnight those sugar stores get depleted until they're all gone.

When there's no more stored glucose left to burn, your body will start to extract energy from its storehouse. That's adipose or visceral fat (belly fat) cells.

It extracts "ketones" from those cells and burns them for energy.

Not many people realize this, but ketones are a far more friendly energy source for the body than is glucose! As you keep burning ketones, your fat cells lose mass and get smaller and lighter. Effectively, you lose weight and start the long process of getting back in shape.

A lot of people try to emulate this process by going on what's popularly known as the "Keto (ketogenic) Diet" where they dramatically reduce carbs while increasing fats to cause the body to burn ketones for energy by depriving it of simple sugars from carbohydrates.

Well, now you know another way of doing it that doesn't involve a "diet" as such!

Note: A word of advice here. It makes a lot of sense to modify your normal diet to get the most benefit from intermittent fasting. It means switching to wholesome foods with lots of fresh vegetables and getting away from store-bought packaged meals or meal ingredients.

A wholesome diet will give your body more of the nutrition it needs to sail through the period of not eating without any ill-effects. What I'm saying here is you really do not want to try this and just fill up on junk food like pizza, burgers, fries and soda and expect miracles to happen in between!

Eat sensibly and healthily and your body will respond far better.

Increased Cognitive Function

A major benefit of burning ketones for energy is they can pass the blood-brain barrier and provide fuel for your brain. Better still is they are the perfect fuel for your brain because they promote the creation of new synaptic connections, repair broken ones and repair damaged brain cells while promoting the creation of new ones.

All that going on inside your brain is like a free rejuvenation program getting run. And you do this automatically by burning ketones as fuel!

There has been some incredible research into cognitive function and the causes of dementia related diseases such as Alzheimer's and the finding are that burning ketones for prolonged periods of time can actually cause the brain to repair to such an extent that the effects of dementia can actually be slowed down, halted and even reversed!

That applies to you at any age, so even if you're too young to be worrying about the onset of dementia, you can still greatly improve your mental faculties like memory, problem solving and concentration by giving your brain a regular rejuvenation overhaul by giving it more ketones to use as energy!

The upshot to my imbuing you with this knowledge is that you now have at your disposal a powerful technique for helping stave off age-related mental problems in later life while greatly improving your mental capabilities right now.

Anti-Aging

The cells of your body are regularly aging and dying to be replaced by new cells and it's a process that is going on every second of every day for the whole of your life.

The thing is that as you age chronologically, ever more of the cells of your body die off while ever fewer new ones get created to replace them. That's part of the natural aging process we all know and love. Well, maybe not love so much.

The thing is, when we're burning glucose as our primary fuel (as we all do normally) the cell aging process is quickened as we physically age. However, when we force our body to switch from burning glucose to burning ketones for fuel, guess what happens?

The cells don't die off as fast, but more new ones get created all the same. What's even better is that more stem cells get created, which is good news because these cells can fit in to any part of the body and repair damaged tissue wherever it needs to be repaired.

The body normally goes into repair-mode during deep sleep, as long as there's nothing hanging around in our digestive tract to be processed. If there is, the digestion processes it and the body's healing process has to wait until digestion finishes.

I bet you didn't know any of this, did you?

Well I'm telling you this is how it works. The benefit of not eating anywhere close to going to bed is that your digestion gets a chance to complete before you go to sleep. This allows you to take advantage of having the maximum sleep time for body repair mode to kick into play and do its thing.

In fact, from a personal perspective, I actually sleep an awful lot better on an empty stomach than I ever did on a full one! Better quality sleep also equals slower aging if you didn't already know that!

So if your body can do the maximum repairing sequence and plenty of stem cells are being created, you are literally getting an anti-aging makeover while you sleep!

Body Detoxification

Lastly but by no means least, by leaving a much longer gap between eating meals, you also give the body a good deal of time to perform its own detox. While digestion is shut down for the night, the intestines are able to empty much more of the waste material that's in them into the colon ready for elimination next morning.

In addition to a digestive detox, your major organs also get to detox. The liver, which is your body's front-line sentinel to keep poisons from getting into your blood stream, can get pretty toxin-laden throughout the day especially if your diet has become pretty bad and is full of processed foods and soda.

Giving it a break from filtering all the bad stuff that comes in allows it to get rid of the toxic build-up that occurs. Same goes for the kidneys as they elimination process becomes more complete.

There are Limits

Of course, a mere 16 hours of not eating is not really enough to do a complete body detox. For that you'll need to progress onto a longer fast.

But one thing at a time!

Doing 16 hours for maybe 3 or 4 days a week can provide your body with a lot of repair and detox time cumulatively and once you get used to going for longer without food, the next step to a full 24 hour fast is not so daunting.

So there you have an amazing way to get your body in better working order, detoxed, slimmed down and with the added bonus that your brain gets to work better too!

What's not to like about intermittent fasting, I ask you?

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Posted on Fri, 4 Jan 2019 in Health and Fitness | 0 Comments



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