I’ve heard about fasting on and off as I started searching for better ways to manage weight loss and optimal health. I’ve always thought that when you do fasting, you don’t eat nothing at all except liquid stuff. I’ve always thought that I can’t do that. I do not want to starve myself.
On one of my doctor’s visits late last year, my GP had wanted me to have my blood drawn to check where my body stands as I was concerned about my blood pressure. The nurse assistant told me I have to fast and stop eating at 12 midnight the night before my blood test. I can drink water and that’s it. I told my husband on the way home, that I’ve always had done that, so that’s no sacrifice on my part. I’m used to it. In fact, most of the time I don’t snack or eat anything after 10 pm and would just consume the rest of my scheduled eight glasses of water for the day.
Since my husband and I embarked into this journey of calorie counting, I would stop eating by 5 pm. I have already conditioned my body not to eat too much since summer of 2011 and I’ve lost 10 pounds. This was about the time I adapted plant based eating and cut down on red meat and limited added sugar in my food intake. From losing 10 pounds and maintained it for a while, I gained back 5 pounds by Christmas last year. I was having some rough time losing it by the first part of 2015.
Thank goodness to stumbling into an app that monitor calorie intake! I told my husband about it and since then, we’ve lost quite a few pounds. My husband is currently weighing 202 pounds and I’ve lost 11 pounds in this calorie counting process. We are both used to eating a lot less now and do not feel deprived. We eat lots of veggies and fruits, fish, whole grain and some meat and chicken. My heavy meal is breakfast. I do not have cravings for sweets anymore since I’ve been eating veggies and fruits. They healed my cravings for simple sugar and bad carbs.
Anyway, I love reading about overall health studies and articles, and one of those I’ve read recently was about INTERMITTENT FASTING. According to Yuri Elkaim for U.S. News and published on Huffpost Healthy Living — “intermittent fasting is a technique that incorporates a weekly fast into your routine. This method is great because it allows you to reap the benefits of fasting without leaving you feeling weak or deprived. I can understand that this idea might not sound very appealing, but the fact is there’s ton of health benefits to fasting, and it really isn’t as horrible as it sounds. Research shows that those who eat less are generally healthier and live longer than those who eat more. Intermittent fasting is based on this principle.” He also stated that: “The benefits of fasting come after about 18 hours, but this doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to go without food all day long. To give you an example of what a fast might look like, let’s say you stop eating after dinner at 7 p.m., you go to bed and wake up at 7 a.m. Right there you have already fasted for 12 hours. In this scenario, if you wait to eat your first meal at 1 p.m. you will have successfully completed an 18-hour fast. Not too bad, right?”
Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been doing some type of fasting already, 16 hours of fasting almost everyday. I drink two glasses of water first thing in the morning to get my body’s circulation going. Then after 9 am, I’m ready to eat my first meal for the day. If I can hold off until 11 am, I could be doing an 18 hour fast. Usually most days, I’m not hungry in the morning. Maybe I could try doing it once or twice a week. Mr. Elkaim recommends to do an 18 hour fast one day a week.
In Mr. Elkaim’s article, he said: From a fat-burning perspective, intermittent fasting is a powerful tool. When you’re in a fed state, the body has to produce insulin to keep your blood sugar at a safe level. Insulin’s main job is to shuttle excess glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream over to the muscle, liver or fat cells for storage. But insulin doesn’t only take sugar out of the blood – it also increases fat storage. Now, if a person were to eat small, infrequent meals every day, this release of insulin would not be a big deal. The problem is many experts have led people to believe that eating five or six meals a day is the only way to eat for weight loss. Now let’s think about this logically for a second. Do you think the best way to lose weight is to cause your body to constantly release a hormone that favors fat storage? I didn’t think so!
Another rumor is that fasting and/or eating infrequent meals every day will slow down your metabolism. This simply isn’t true. To make this point clear, all you have to do is think back to our primitive ancestors. They rarely (if ever) ate the same amount of food on consecutive days. Their caloric intake was dependent on what was available on that particular day. And they would be forced to fast intermittently because sometimes food was simply unavailable. Furthermore, evolution takes, minimally, thousands of years, and even though our world has changed drastically, our bodies have not had time to evolve from this primitive lifestyle. As a matter of fact, it has only been within the last 50 to 100 years that our bodies have been exposed to a consistent caloric intake. The truth is, being in a consistently fed state is not natural to the body’s physiology. This is precisely why eating less leads to better health and a longer life.”
Another website that talk about intermittent fasting is Marcola.com. According to the article I’ve read on this site:
Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Fasting is historically commonplace as it has been a part of spiritual practice for millennia. But modern science has confirmed there are many good reasons for fasting, including the following:
Normalizing your insulin and leptin sensitivity, and boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency: One of the primary mechanisms that makes intermittent fasting so beneficial for health is related to its impact on your insulin sensitivity.
While sugar is a source of energy for your body, it also promotes insulin resistance when consumed in the amounts found in our modern processed junk food diets. Insulin resistance, in turn, is a primary driver of chronic disease—from heart disease to cancer.
Intermittent fasting helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel, and mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Normalizing ghrelin level also known as “the hunger hormone”
Promoting human growth hormone (HGH) production:
- Research has shown fasting can raise HGH by as much as 1,300 percent in women, and 2,000 percent in men, which plays an important part in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process. HGH is also a fat-burning hormone, which helps explain why fasting is so effective for weight loss.
Lowering triglyceride levels and improving other biomarkers of disease
Reducing oxidative stress:
- Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
There’s also plenty of research showing that fasting has a beneficial impact on longevity in animals. There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalizing insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the aging process.
Intermittent fasting is by far the most effective way I know of to shed unwanted fat and eliminate your sugar cravings. Since most of us are carrying excess fat we just can’t seem to burn, this is a really important benefit. When sugar is not needed as a primary fuel, your body will also not crave it as much when your sugar stores run low.
As mentioned above, the other mechanisms that makes fasting so effective for weight loss is the fact that it provokes the secretion of HGH—a fat-burning hormone that has many well-recognized “anti-aging” health and fitness benefits.
Last but not least, intermittent fasting has also been identified as a potent ally for the prevention and perhaps even treatment of dementia. First, ketones are released as a byproduct of burning fat, and ketones (not glucose) are actually the preferred fuel for your brain.
In addition to that, intermittent fasting boosts production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. It also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Research by Dr. Mark Mattson, a senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, suggests that alternate-day fasting (restricting your meal on fasting days to about 600 calories), can boost BDNF by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region.”
For one thing, I do feel so much better and light as a feather since I’ve been eating less. Now with intermittent fasting, I’ll take it with a grain of salt, but keeping in mind that as it is I am already fasting in a more sensible and moderate way. I’m glad that my blood pressure readings have been on normal levels. This morning my blood pressure was 115/68! That makes me happy.