Intermittent fasting (IF) is becoming more and more popular. People are using it to lose weight, improve their health and simplify their lives. Doctors and health experts around the world are starting to recommend it and many studies have been done that prove its powerful effects on the body, brain, and life span.
What is it exactly? Rather than a diet, it’s an eating pattern. It is placing a restriction on the time you spend eating during the day. Common IF methods involve daily 16 or 20 hour fasts, limiting the time of eating to just 8 or 4 hours a day. Others may fast for 24 hours once or twice a week. The idea is that you give your body’s digestive system more down-time so that you can give the body the time it needs to detox and heal, daily. When you don’t eat for a while, your body begins important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells, and changes hormone levels so that stored body fat is more accessible. Blood insulin levels drop significantly and blood levels of the human growth hormone increase, facilitating fat burning and muscle gain. There are also beneficial changes in gene expression and molecules related to longevity and protection against diseases. IF can help you lose weight and body fat and can reduce your insulin resistance, lowering your risk of Type 2 Diabetes. IF can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. IF has proven to be beneficial for heart health, improving various risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and blood triglycerides. New studies are coming out now showing that IF assists with cancer prevention. As you can see, the list is long and the benefits are fruitful.
- Start delaying your breakfast
Loren and I both believe that breakfast is the most important of the meal of the day…to skip. Neither of us eat breakfast, our first meals are typically between 1-2pm everyday. I recommend to start slow, because your body has become very accustomed to eating early in the morning. As not to put your body in shock, you can start delaying your breakfast time. If you usually eat at 7am, try today at 8am and tomorrow at 8:30am and see how you feel. Make sure to drink a lot of water in the morning. Drinking water will help you with any detox symptoms you may feel in the belly, such as grumbling, dizziness or “fake hunger”.
- Respect the body’s biorhythms and eat dinner earlier
If biorhythms aren’t respected and you eat late at night, when the body is not prepared to manage food, imbalances are generated and the body will ask to continue eating to neutralize the loss of nutrients. Going to sleep on a full belly will prevent you from sleeping well and you will not properly be able to digest the food. So start eating earlier. You can test how you feel eating earlier until you find a time that works best for you and your lifestyle.
- Drink lots of water
It is important to drink a lot of water in the mornings, or if you decide to IF at night, then drink plenty of water at night. Whenever you feel fake hunger and other detox symptoms, take a sip of water. Keep sipping water throughout the time you are fasting. It will help you feel better and you can work on staying hydrated, which is the only way true detox can happen.
- Start with fruit
Begin your day eating fruit, whether it’s at 7am or 2pm. This way the body can continue detoxing even after you start eating. Fruit is the best thing to break every fast with, whether it be 20 hours or 21 days.
- Only eat when hungry
Start listening to your body more. Are you really hungry when you eat or has it become a habit to eat at a certain time? Eating only when you’re hungry is the only time that you can properly assimilate food. Check in with your body more and more and you’ll be able to tell when you are truly ready to eat, rather than the clock telling you it’s time to eat. For example, if there is real hunger because the body asks for it but you don’t feed it because the brain says, it’s not the “right time”, that would generate internal tension which would lead to frustration and rebound effects.
- Eat until you are satisfied, not full
One mistake a lot of intermittent fasters make is that they try to stuff as much food into them that they would eat if they were eating all day. This is completely unnecessary and unnatural. After a while you will be really hungry again because the body has not been fully nourished. The body will constantly be asking for food because it really needs it. It’s important to eat while listening to your body, paying attention to what’s going on, so that you know when to stop. It’s important for proper digestion not to overeat. So although you are eating in a smaller time frame, don’t try to get the same calories-just listen to the body and stop when you feel satisfaction. If you get full, you know you went too far.
- Eat living food and stick to good combinations
During the periods of food intake, it is key to incorporate live foods, best suited for our physiology, so that the body is nourished and satisfied. Also it’s important to combine foods properly to avoid fermentation and putrefaction. If not, the body will not assimilate the food well and in order to metabolize it, it will have to take reserves from the body, which leads to deficiencies and disturbance of the metabolic balance, later demanding more food to compensate.
In particular, in an intermittent fast where the intake window is 8 hours, it would be recommended that one of the meals be entirely fruit, to ensure that the body is adequately nourished. The more fresh food, the less hunger, which is why you need fewer meals and fewer intakes.
- Reduce or eliminate toxic and anti-food
As long as we don’t eliminate or at least reduce toxins such as alcohol, coffee, medications, and anti-foods such as salt, sugar, white flour and processed products in general, it can be difficult to maintain an intermittent fast, especially if it is a fast of several hours. Toxicants demand large amounts of nutrients to metabolize them and generate metabolic imbalances, for which the body will continue to demand nutrients and thus real hunger will be awakened. As they are removed, there will be less demand for food.
- Practice mindful eating
Being mindful and conscious while eating is super important. It will help you appreciate your meals more, you will be able to taste things much more and it is relaxing. You can start by taking a few deep breaths before you eat and consider the health value of each different piece of food on your plate. Practicing gratitude for the food, all who helped to deliver that food to your plate and for Mother Nature could also be a nice addition. Use all your senses while you are chewing each bite.Taste each bite and enjoy it! Observe how your body feels with each bite and observe the process of the food. Chewing and eating slowly is also really important for your body. Eating mindfully will enhance the enjoyment of eating, promote better digestion, reduce overeating, keep you satiated with less food, reduce anxiety and improve your psychological relationship with food. Also, the more mindful you are while you eat, the more likely you are to free yourself from unhealthy eating habits.
- Eat in a positive emotional state
If I eat when the body doesn’t have energy to metabolize food, in situations of being overworked or a lot of mental activity, or during a physical or psycho-emotional crisis, real hunger will disappear and the body won’t be able to handle the food and putrefaction and fermentation will occur, which will eventually cause the body to demand more food. This will generate tension and rebound effects, especially if you’re eating on a restricted schedule, rather than respecting real hunger.
Also, if I am not managing my emotions, conflicts or taking care of myself, it will be more difficult to maintain an intermittent fast. Improving a diet implies improving your lifestyle, working on conflicts and not suppressing emotions through food. If I only take care of my diet and not other things that are devitalizing me, a lot of tension will be generated and it won’t be a complete process.