The concept of fasting is definitely not new; its benefits backed by scientific studies have been around since the 1940’s. However, over the past couple of years the popularity of fasting has had somewhat of a resurgence. It’s something I have experimented with over the last couple of years with quite positive results.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, reduce blood sugar levels and also reduce insulin resistance. These are all important factors relating to effective weight loss. It is also suggested that fasting optimises insulin, human growth hormone (HGH) and norepinephrine (noradrenalin), key hormones involved in the fat-burning process.
The reason as to why intermittent fasting is so effective at burning fat has a lot to do with insulin. Insulin is primarily a fat-storing hormone. It inhibits the breakdown of fat cells and stimulates the creation of body fat. Insulin tells the body to stop burning its fat stores and instead, absorb some of the fatty acids and glucose in the blood and turn them into more fat. Every time you eat, insulin is released. Intermittent fasting helps to keep your insulin levels low, forcing your body to use its stored body fat for fuel. Apart from helping you to lose weight, keeping your insulin levels low and steady can also help you to avoid chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
One of the biggest myths and misconceptions touted by the food industry over the years is that we need to eat often in order to lose weight. Studies now prove this information to be incorrect. Of course it makes sense that the giant food companies want us to eat more, not less. How do they benefit from us eating less? They don’t. There have been numerous examples over the years of the food industry influencing scientific research. Can we really trust them? After all, it’s all about maintaining their profits, not your health.
When it comes to fat burning, insulin is the key. Keeping this hormone under control is the real secret to allowing your body to effectively burn fat, and the best process in which to achieve this is through intermittent fasting.
Our ancient ancestors never ate as much or as often as we do. They went from periods of abundance to times when they had no food at all. Humans evolved and thrived on an irregular meal schedule long before modern food preservation made regular meals possible.
Whether you are aware of it or not, you are actually fasting every day. If the last thing you ate was at 9 p. m. and you eat breakfast at 8 a.m. the next morning, you have just fasted for 11 hours. The idea here is to extend that fast so as to optimize your fat-burning hormones. If you find it difficult to skip breakfast in the morning, then another approach would be to ensure the last thing you eat at night is as early as possible.
There are many different options with fasting. You can fast for an entire day once or twice a week, or you may wish to follow my practice and stick to eating between noon and 8 p.m. Invariably, you will be ingesting fewer calories by shortening the window in which you eat, another reason why a lot of people lose weight through intermittent fasting.
If however, you find it difficult to skip breakfast and you want to try the fast, a great tactic is to gradually extend the time in which you are fasting. For example if you normally eat breakfast at 7 a. m., then perhaps wait until 8 or 9 to eat; then keep moving your meal forward until you are having your first meal at noon.
An example of incorporating intermittent fasting into your day is eating between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. or even 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. How you actually structure the eight hours in which you eat is totally up to you. What really matters is that it needs to revolve around your own schedule and lifestyle.