The keto diet may have ruled 2017, (and let’s face it, the first few months of 2018) but as we all move to approach everything in our lives, from the way we exercise, shop and eat, with a more holistic, mindful attitude; so our outlook on weight loss has changed – it’s no longer just about shedding those extra kilos, it’s also about improving our overall health, now and for the future.
This has brought rise to the new non-diet diet: intermittent fasting (IF).
Proven to help with weight loss, IF has is also linked to a wealth of other health benefits, including decreased inflammation, a better blood sugar balance, and improved cognitive function.
Much like the hugely popular Paleo diet, which aims to mimic what our ancestors ate, IF aims to follow how we used to eat. Because, you see, back in the Flinstones days, we didn’t have the luxury of planned meals, indulgent, Instagrammable brunches or over-stocked fridges. Sometimes we wouldn’t eat eat until midday or even nighttime, depending on when we managed to find food.
Bottom line: our bodies are no stranger to a little fasting. In fact, scientists are now finding that these fasting periods can be therapeutic for both the body and brain.
So how does it work?
The term intermittent fasting can take a variety of different forms, but generally speaking, it means fasting for allocated periods of time. This could take the form of time-restricted feeding, in which one restricts the time spent eating each day to a specific number of hours (a a 12-hour window between dinner and breakfast, which, according to experts, is something we should all be doing).
The more experienced you are at fasting, the more ‘advanced’ plan you can follow, creating longer fasting periods and shorter eating periods. (Note that you should consult a doctor before starting IF and focus on finding a program that suits you, your habits and your schedule).
Basically, fasting declutters your brain, gives your gut a break, and allows your cells to regenerate, rebuild and repair.
Is IF a weight-loss diet?
Yes and no. Research shows that IF can be as effective as a calorie-restrive diet, if properly adhered to. So if you’re thinking of giving it a try, make sure you stick to the allocated eating and fasting time periods and don’t gorge yourself during these eating windows, as this will undo all your hard work.
What are the other benefits of IF?
As well as aiding weight loss, IF can help with a plethora of other medical conditions, including:
- Type Two Diabetes
- Brain fog
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Fatty liver disease
- Blood sugar regulation
- Lower inflammation (including arthritis and joint inflammation)
- Improved cognitive function
- Increased longevity
- Decreased sugar and food cravings
- Boost in athletic performance
- Increased energy levels
- Gut health
- Arthritis and joint inflammation
According to Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., an integrative neurologist, fasting can help boost brain power; “IF is beneficial because it slows the regular transport of glucose into the brain cells and allows the existing glucose and glycogen stores to be converted to energy. This energy can then be used to focus on brain cell metabolic processes, enhancing brain function and allowing one to gain greater energy and mental clarity.”
How can simply not eating for a few hours have so many benefits? One word: autophagy.
Autophagy is the cellular process that happens when cells in the body die and regenerate, making room for new, healthier cells and tissues that lead to longevity and help reverse disease.
Basically, fasting gives your digestive system a break, allowing your body to spend more energy on other things, like circulating blood to the brain.
So perhaps it’s time you ditched dieting and started intermittent fasting; an all-inclusive lifestyle change that doesn’t omit any foods, but rather outlines a time pattern for eating with allocated fasting and eating periods.
Use this beginners guide to fast track your way to IF success.