Have you been hearing about intermittent fasting? Kind of a buzz word right now, right? I’ve been doing research on every kind of fasting for well over two decades now.
HERE’S MY STORY
It began as a newly graduated college kid who had a terrible relationship with food. I knew that something wasn’t right. Nightly cravings, constant stomach aches and bloating, and never truly feeling hungry weren’t normal. I started hearing about fasting and began to read up on it. I first started with juice fasting, which you can learn more about here…
I actually dove in with a 30-day juice fast to try to reset my body. I felt awful for about 3 days, but after that, the shift was incredible. My mind was clear, I dropped unneeded pounds, my workouts were phenomenal and I was sleeping great. But juice fasting 100% of the time wasn’t exactly a realistic lifestyle. And the pounds came right back after I began to eat normally again.
I also lived in Costa Rica for a year after that fast, and I wasn’t able to incorporate juicing regularly so things shifted again.
I put the weight back on and dealt with the same issues that I’d been dealing with before. I realized some time after my juice fast that I had been told my whole life how important small, regular meals were throughout the day.
“Get up and eat a good, solid breakfast with healthy grains” said all the health “experts”. But every day when I woke up, it was forcing myself to eat breakfast and it started my day off on the wrong foot.
It was at this point that I had gotten sick with Lyme disease and my perspective on nutrition changed dramatically. Guess what? Those healthy grains that everyone talked about made me even sicker and gave me awful yeast infections. That fat-free frozen yogurt had me feeling sluggish and tired the rest of the day. There were so many things that I discovered about my diet that were just plain unhealthy. And here is what I have discovered about myself over the last 20 years as I’ve continued this health journey.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
My body needs a BREAK from food. My digestion is so much better when I give myself a 16-18 hour break every day. Grains (particularly gluten) and sugar cause inflammation and stomach upset. Period. Food from a box will not make me healthy. Moving my body every day is essential for good digestion. My energy level is dramatically different when vegetables take up a good portion of every meal.
BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING
Enter intermittent fasting. Somewhere in between 30-day juice fasts and the regular standard diet is what I have found to be a sweet spot in the middle! Giving my body a break every day (or a good 99% of the time) is good for us. Working in a 24 hour fast once every month or two is also a phenomenal way to reset the body and allow for healing.
Check out these health benefits of intermittent fasting that research has found:
- reduced inflammation
- improved sleep
- greater mental clarity, increased neuron development in the brain, slowing of brain-aging biomarkers
- better digestion, improved gut health biodiversity
- decreased blood glucose levels
- improved hormone profile – lowers insulin, improves insulin sensitivity, increases human growth hormone, increase norepinephrine
- maintenance of skeletal muscle mass
It even helps the body HEAL! It’s crazy but true. If you haven’t heard of the word, autophagy, it’s one that you’re going to want to learn! During intermittent fasting, cells respond adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and, maybe, to resist disease. Similarly to exercise, the immediate shock to the system allows the body to get stronger over time. Fasting causes cells to initiate a waste-removal process called autophagy. During autophagy, the body cleans house and starts regenerating itself – eliminating dysfunctional, damaged cells to make room for new, healthy ones. Autophagy may even offer protection against diseases like cancer or dementia as well as protect the body against negative effects of oxidative stress and inflammation.
FROM SUGAR BURN TO FAT BURN
Here’s a really fun part about intermittent fasting as well. When we eat carbohydrates, our bodies break down those carbs and convert them to glucose but if we don’t use them, guess what happens? They turn to fat and get stored. When we fast, our cells actually flip a switch and start to use fat instead of glucose! But Beth, won’t it start to break down protein and affect my muscle mass? Great question and that doesn’t happen until about day 3. So that leaves us with positive changes aiding in maintaining lean muscle mass while burning fats. Sign me up for that! You’ve probably heard of ketones, but this is where they come into play. When our body is using fat as our energy source, that is when we produce ketones. Hence the ketogenic diet. Research is showing ketones to play a not only helpful role but vital part in brain health. There have been studies to show that ketones even decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s, seizures, and neural disorders!
SO WHY WOULD I NOT JUST DO THE KETO DIET?
Again, good question if that’s what you’re asking yourself! In order to burn fat but also build muscle, our body needs carbs. Yup, I just said that. Good carbs are the foundation for restoring glycogen stores when we lift weights which is essential for health as well. I believe that good fats are essential, but a diet excessively high in fat (even good fats!) isn’t healthy either.
There is so much we could dive into with intermittent fasting and what the right schedule is for you. What we do know is that intermittent fasting has obvious health benefits even though it is counter culture to what we’ve learned.
I’ve created a FREE guide to intermittent fasting for you and also threw in five bonus recipes to help you break your fast with highly nutritious and balanced meals. GRAB THAT HERE
There is so much more to the health story. The right workouts with the right nutrition and giving your body a break from digestion are a pretty magical combo. If you’d like to hear more about putting these together in a “done for you” program, feel free to click here!