I’m prefacing this blog by stating that I’m not a Nutritionist. Yes, I have some good nutritional knowledge thanks to my Precision Nutrition Coaching Level 1 and 2 training and my constant personal development, but I’m again, not a trained nutritionist. That being said, I wanted to share some of the fasting benefits I’ve personally experienced.
Here’s a short and condensed summary if you’re tight for time:
My Fasting Benefits and Results
After fasting one day (a full 24 hours) a week, I lost 6 pounds in 3 months, most of which I can see came from my abdominals. Keep in mind, before losing this weight, I was already exercising at least 5 days a week and eating 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. The only additional change I made in my routine was to fast for about 24 hours one day a week. As you can imagine, I’m very happy with fasting benefits. The 24 hour fasting time frame I chose, is not to eat from 12:30pm on Mondays, through to 12:30pm on Tuesdays. I essentially skip dinner Monday night and breakfast Tuesday morning.
I’ve kept this tool in my routine for more than five months now, and have maintained the weight loss. Now I’m not going to lie and say I look forward to each fasting period. Sometimes I dread the couple of hours when ‘hunger’ sets in, which is often the evening timeframe for me. This is when we’re usually watching TV; it seems like every scene involves eating and drinking! But over time, fasting has become much easier.
I remember being shocked when I woke up the first morning after not eating dinner. I thought I would be ravenous, but in fact, I felt just fine. In fact, I didn’t even think about food until 10:30am that morning. This opened my eyes to the fact that we really don’t need to be eating 3 square meals each and every day. Because of fasting, I can better differentiate when I’m physically hungry, or when it’s my body and hormones tricking me to ‘think’ that I’m hungry.
Let me share a little from what I’ve learned about why and how fasting works.
The Science Behind Fasting
When a person fasts, insulin levels drop so the body switches from burning glucose for fuel, to burning fat. The liver contains enough glucose to last approximately 24 hours, so it does take this length of time before the body switches to breaking down stored body fat versus glucose.
You may wonder if eating less during each of your three meals is as effective as fasting. Research has proven that when you reduce the calories you consume at each meal, but continue to eat all day long, insulin still pumps throughout your body all day so you can’t burn fat for energy. You also don’t get the benefits of the increased adrenaline, growth hormones or faster metabolism that have been proven to happen with fasting.
4 Fasting Benefits
Fasting is easy to understand and follow, you don’t have to buy special foods or measure out exact food portions, you simply have to eat nothing for a period of time. I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about what to make for dinner on Monday evenings. We now have Monday evenings free to run errands or go for a long walk with the dogs. Once you start fasting, you’ll be amazed to learn how much of your weeknights get consumed with cooking and eating your meals, in addition to cleaning up after dinner.
Imagine, a healthy eating habit that’s actually free! In fact, when you fast, you actually save yourself money because you’re eating 2-3 fewer meals a week.
Fasting doesn’t rule your lifestyle and it isn’t extremely rigid like every other eating plan out there. It’s important to fit fasting into your schedule, and to not let it rule your routine. If a weekly 24 hour fast doesn’t work for you, there’s lots of good research showing the success of the 16/8 intermittent fasting method. This is when you eat all meals within 8 hours a day and fast the other 16 hours.
Fasting can be done anywhere, at home, work or on vacation. If you want to skip one fast while on vacation, that’s possible too, just know that it’s a little tougher that first fast back, I know this from personal experience.
This habit teaches you what true hunger feels like. When you eat this way, you’ll be able to distinguish between emotional versus physical hunger. Your hunger signals adjust so you feel hungry when truly are, versus experiencing the “false hunger signals” due to insulin being constantly pumped throughout your body. You’ll learn the triggers that make you want to eat, even though you’re not necessarily hungry. This leads to you becoming more in control of your eating.
To Sum it up…Fasting Benefits I’ve Experienced
In my experience, fasting is simple, free, flexible and effective. There is so much to share about fasting, that my next blog will conclude my experience with this form of eating. I’ll share my tips to make fasting easier, and some alternatives to fasting, if you’re not ready to try it. Stay tuned!
Sources: * The Complete Guide to Fasting, Jason Fung, MD with Jimmy Moore
* Ted Talk, Intermittent Fasting: Transformational Technique, Cynthia Thurlow