Fasting is one of the oldest therapies used for health purposes. In ancient times fasting was a normal part of life sometimes for religious reasons or just food was not as plentiful. Fasting is the abstinence of food and drink except for water for a specific period. Fasting uses glucose from adipose tissue (fat) for fuel. Once glucose is all used up protein starts to be used for fuel. Starvation is a result of protein exhaustion and results in death after a few weeks to months depending on the composition of the body.
Intermittent fasting is a highly effective method for weight loss however long-term results need lifestyle modifications of healthy diet and exercise. Digestion takes much energy and with fasting the body can focus its energy on regeneration and healing at the cellular level instead of digestion. So, fasting promotes good health. The idea is to give the body a rest from digestion.
There are many benefits to fasting besides weight loss including, but not limited to improved cholesterol levels especially triglycerides, stabilized blood sugar, decreased blood pressure, improved cognition, decreased inflammation, and longer life span.
Chronic inflammation keeps weight on the body. So, to lose weight we must address inflammation. The process of eating results in mild to severe inflammation depending on the diet and the strength of the digestive system. If the digestive system is weak and cannot break down food larger particles move through the digestive tract and irritate the lining causing inflammation. Chronic inflammation results in many disorders like arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer, diabetes (type 2), multiple sclerosis, digestive problems, body pain to name a few.
Neurobiologist Mark Mattson, PhD, explains that “every time you eat, glucose is stored in your liver as glycogen, which takes about 10 to 12 hours to be depleted. After the glycogen is used up, your body starts burning fats, which are converted to ketone bodies, acidic chemicals used by neurons as energy. Ketones promote positive changes in the structure of synapses important for learning, memory, and overall brain health. But if you eat three meals a day with snacks in between, your body does not have the chance to deplete the glycogen stores in your liver, and the ketones aren’t produced.”
So, what is involved with intermittent fasting? I recommend 14-15 hours without food. A late breakfast starting with a protein and an early dinner. Dinner should be a lighter meal like soup especially if eating late at night. It is not good to eat just before going to bed. Minimum time to digest food adequately is 2 hours. If you go to bed after eating it increases your weight and affects the quality of sleep. We should be eating larger heavier protein meals in the day and lighter meals in the evening. So, if you stop eating at 6:30 pm the next meal should be 9:30 am. For weight loss, this does not need to occur daily, but I recommend this 3-4 times a week.
Enjoy the journey to a lighter body and healthier life.