Sunday 30 June 2019

Intermittent Fasting; What Does It Mean?


When you say the phrase “Today I will fast,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Let me guess—is it “But I don’t want to starve”? You’re not alone in this common misconception, so let’s break it down and make it easier to digest (pun very much intended!).

Fasting vs. Starvation

Fasting is a conscious choice. What sets fasting apart from starvation is that it’s a decision you make to intentionally not eat. The length of time you choose to fast and the purpose for fasting (be it for religious reasons, weight loss, or a detox) are not forced upon you. Fasting is done at will. Done properly, fasting can have positive effects on our overall health.

Starvation is brought upon people unwillingly by a set of circumstances out of their control, famine, poverty, and war being just a few reasons for such a catastrophic situation. Starvation is a severe deficiency in calories that can lead to organ damage and eventually death. No one chooses to starve.
Once I thought about not eating from this perspective, it made perfect sense, and it was so much easier to wrap my head around the idea. Yes, at first I was skeptical about fasting too.

Before I understood that there is a difference between fasting and starving, my first reaction to the idea of not eating was always “Why would anyone choose to starve?” The reality is, anyone who decides to fast is only choosing not to eat for a predetermined period of time. Even peaceful protests that use fasting as a means to an end have a defined goal for fasting.

Will You Feel Hungry While Fasting?

To answer that, let’s put the question in perspective. The truth is, we all fast once a day. We often eat our last meal a few hours before going to sleep, and except for nursing newborns, I can’t think of anyone who eats the moment they wake. Even if you average only six hours of sleep a night, it’s likely you’re already fasting ten hours a day. Now let’s add the idea of intermittent to the mix.

“Intermittent” means something that is not continuous. When applying that to the idea of fasting, it means you’re lengthening the time when you don’t eat between meals (the word “breakfast” means just that, breaking the fast).
Since our bodies are already accustomed to fasting once a day, the bigger issue is mind over matter. Let’s get back to the question of whether you will feel hungry. The first week may be an adjustment as you get used to the extended period of time in your new fasting goal. To help you adjust, the 4-Week Intermittent Keto Plan here builds the fasting part of your day into your sleeping hours. It’s quite possible your body will start to feel hungry around whatever time you’re currently used to eating breakfast if it’s before noon, but you will adjust within a few days.

In anticipation of the change you’re about to make, try pushing back your first meal of the day by thirty minutes every day for a week before starting the 4-Week Plan. This way, when you begin the schedule laid out here, you’ll need to adjust your timing of your final meal of the day only once you begin week two of the plan for the Meals from Noon to 6 p.m. Only schedule.

Why Choose Intermittent Fasting?

Now that we’ve cleared up what it really means to fast, and you realize it’s a conscious choice not to eat for a period of time, you might be still be wondering, why bother? The main reason that intermittent fasting (commonly referred to as IF) has taken the diet world by storm is its ability to promote weight loss. Metabolism is often categorized as one function of the human body. In reality, metabolism involves two essential reactions: catabolism and anabolism.

Catabolism is the part of metabolism wherein our bodies break down the food we consume. During catabolism, complex molecules are broken down into smaller units that release energy. Anabolism then uses that energy to begin the process of rebuilding and repairing our bodies, growing new cells, and maintaining tissues. Technically speaking, catabolism and anabolism happen simultaneously, but the rate at which they occur is different. A traditional eating schedule, where we spend the majority of our day eating, means our bodies have less time to spend in the second, or anabolic, phase of metabolism. It’s a little confusing, perhaps, because the processes are interdependent, but remember that the rates at which they occur differ. The important takeaway here is that fasting for an elongated period allows for maximum efficiency in the metabolic processes.

Another amazing side effect of fasting, even for an intermittent period as outlined in this book, is a resurgence in mental acuity. Numerous studies show that contrary to popular belief, fasting makes you more aware and focused, not tired or light-headed. Many point to evolution and our ability to survive as a species: long before food preservation was possible, mental awareness was necessary at all times so that we could live from day to day, regardless of how plentiful food resources may have been.

Scientific research points toward neurogenesis, the growth and development of nerve tissue in the brain, kicking into high gear during periods of fasting.
All roads lead toward one exceptionally important conclusion when it comes to fasting: it allows your body time to do more of the behind-the-scenes work necessary. The longer you extend the window between eating your last meal of one day and consuming the first meal of the following one, the more time your body must focus on cellular regeneration and tissue repair at all levels.

Are Liquids Allowed When Fasting?

There’s one last important detail to note about intermittent fasting. Unlike religious fasting, which generally restricts consuming any food or liquids during the fast period, IF allows you to consume certain liquids. Technically speaking, the moment you consume anything with calories, a fast is broken. Looking at it through the lens of using intermittent fasting for its weight-loss benefits means we can apply different rules.

Bone broth (here) is recommended to replenish vitamins and minerals, and to maintain sodium levels. Coffee and tea are allowed, preferably without any added milk or cream, and with absolutely no sweeteners. There are two schools of thought on adding dairy to your coffee or tea. Provided it’s only a high-fat addition, such as coconut oil or butter to make bulletproof coffee (here), many keto advocates think it’s fine, since it doesn’t disrupt ketosis. Adding MCT (medium-chain triglyceride)

oil is believed to boost energy levels and leave you feeling sated as well. Purists adhere to plain coffee or tea. You should do what works best for you, provided it doesn’t kick you out of ketosis (for ways to test for this, see here).
Let’s not forget water, as staying well hydrated is essential to any healthy lifestyle choices. Caffeine can be especially depleting, so make sure to balance coffee consumption with water intake too.

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