Raise your hand if you’ve ever skipped breakfast, and ended up having your first meal of the day at around 12-2pm? Well, chances are you’re participating in a pattern of eating called intermittent fasting – which may well have been benefitting your health without you even noticing!
What exactly is intermittent fasting? The clue is in the name. A fast, often used for religious purposes, is when an individual goes through a state of not eating for a certain amount of time. This way of living is often considered dangerous by skeptics and has side effects that can create issues when focusing at work or school. By eating intermittently (on and off), you can expect outstanding benefits to your health, especially when it comes to weight loss. Now, intermittent fasting is not a diet in any way shape or form – no, you can eat what you like and still be as slim as you want! (Although if you have a diet consisting of pizza and coke, you’ll feel the effects elsewhere. Eating healthy is common sense now.) Intermittent fasting is when you eat for a certain amount of time, for me, that would be 1pm-9pm, then having nothing to eat until 2pm the next day. That’s 16 hours without food! Sounds impossible? You’d be surprised!
I decided to interview some people close to me about their eating patterns and found that one of my friends who fasts for religious reasons has noticed profound health benefits by doing so. She will fast for 8-12 hours a day and says it gives her an almost refreshed feeling of life. “While I do this for my religious beliefs, I have noticed that it has an effect on my weight, for example after my fast has finished I just don’t feel like big meals.” Intermittent fasting can also work as a kind of placebo, where just the thought of finishing a fast may promote you to eat healthier as you would have just wasted so many hours without food and it would have all been for nothing – a total time killer.
To explain further, when you eat your body spends a certain amount of time processing that food, burning what it can. After this has all been absorbed into our bloodstream, our body decides to choose that as its primary source of energy, not the fat we have stored in our bodies. So, if we have no energy flowing through our bloodstream for a certain amount of time, our bodies will start to use our stored fat as an energy source, burning it off. Viola: weight loss. What’s even better, is when you do a workout in your ‘fasted’ state. Without a steady supply of sugars (glucose), our bodies are forced to pull energy from our fat stored in our cells, bonus!
Our bodies react to eating food by producing insulin. Therefore, the more sensitive our bodies are to insulin, the higher the chance that we’ll be able to use the food we eat efficiently, promoting weight loss and muscle creation. To make things even better, intermittent fasting actually increases our bodies’ sensitivity to insulin. If you were to compare these facts with some of a regular day without fasting intermittently, you may expect to see normal levels of insulin sensitivity, where the food we consumed has filled the glucose in our bloodstream, meaning our body stores what’s left as fat in our cells.
This way of eating isn’t for everyone, some people can benefit more than others. A lot of people find it hard to focus in the morning without a proper ‘brain food’ breakfast. That’s not to say you couldn’t just swap your fasting hours. If you’ve skipped breakfast before, then there’s a good chance you can take advantage of this little time-saving cheat. Do it right, and you can expect some phenomenal health benefits.