The health and fitness industry is often punctuated by several trends and fads that spark a lot of interest very quickly, create hype, and then fizzle out to the replacement of a new, more controversial option. So, how does intermittent fasting fit into this? Is this just a trend or craze that won’t last? Or is this really the secret to better health ?
Here, at “Just Be Better”, we want to provide you with everything that you need to know surrounding Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent Fasting is NOT a new concept
The majority of religions have a history of fasting of some sort, and many cultures have been practising fasting for thousands of years. Typically, these fasts have been for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment, but there have also been many studies into the physical benefits of fasting. The early great philosophers, thinkers, and healers used fasting for health and as healing therapy. Hippocrates, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Galen all praised the benefits of fasting. This indicates the physical and cognitive benefits of fasting that date back years, before modern science told us that 5-6 small meals a day is “the best way to eat”. So, where these great leaders and religions all wrong? Or is there credit to their experiences of fasting?
So, What is It???
Intermittent fasting (IF) can be defined as an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between a period of fasting and eating. The most popular version of this today, is the Lean Gains Protocol, which focuses on a daily 16 hour fast, followed by an 8 hour eating window. Other Protocols include the warrior diet, which limits the eating window to roughly 4 hours.
But isn’t that BAD for you!?
Simply put: no. You see, many may argue that the whole “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” theory was only invented by cereal companies to sell their products. But think about this logically: a thousand years ago, would people be able to always eat breakfast? Did they even eat every day? The truth is, they probably didn’t. In fact, many early civilisations probably only ate when they killed something or ate something. In fact, recent studies have challenge the consensus of thinking, showing that there are actually many benefits to going without food for 14 to 24 hours.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Some incredible things happen in your body while you are in a fasted state. some of these changes include:
- Insulin levels: when in a fasted state, your body’s blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which helps to facilitate fat burning
- Human growth hormone: HGH (Human Growth Hormone) actually increases dramatically when in a fasted state. This encourages muscle growth and fat burning.
- Cellular repair: When you are in a fasted state, it allows your body to enter into autophagy, which allows the body to induce important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells. Paracelsus, one of the three fathers of Western medicine, is quoted as saying, “Fasting is the greatest remedy–the physician within.” Early healing arts recognised the revitalising and rejuvenating power fasting promoted.
- Gene expression: Fasting has been related to several beneficial changes in several genes and molecules related to longevity and protection against disease.
Above and beyond these physical benefits, reports have shown that people who practice Intermittent Fasting experience immense focus and enhanced cognitive ability when in their fasted state. If you think about this, it actually makes sense. Think about how you feel after a huge meal. Drowsy? Sleepy? Foggy? This is because of Orexin, also called hypocretin. Orexin is a neuropeptide that regulates arousal, wakefulness, and appetite, and is suppressed when your blood is flooded with glucose. This is why you feel so drowsy when you eat a big meal. It was Mohatma Ghandi who said “Eat less to have more energy.” And he was right! The Science backs it up!
Of course, Intermittent Fast might not be for everyone, but according to the facts, it is a tool that can be used to enhance you capabilities and quality of life dramatically.