How intermittent fasting works & why this might be the ideal time to try it
Now might be the perfect time to try one of the hottest weight-loss & well-being trends.
Living under quarantine or self-isolation is not pleasurable, but in some aspects, it can be very convenient.
If you're spending more time at home, you can create a solid 24/7 schedule, adopt new habits and bring some balance into your life.
Give intermittent fasting a go!
First thing first - what is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is a way to eat. Unlike regular diets, it is not focused on WHAT to eat but WHEN to eat.
People try it for health reasons and for boosting weight loss.
Intermittent fasting is not, however, a new concept. Some cultures do it for religious reasons, some as a lifestyle choice. It's also often a part of medical procedures and treatments in hospitals. Last but not least, fasting is something organisms are well-adapted to.
In 2014, Mark P. Mattson PhD and Valter D. Longo from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine performed extensive research on fasting and were astonished by the results:
"Fasting has the potential to delay ageing and help prevent and treat diseases while minimising the side effects caused by chronic dietary interventions."
What is a circadian rhythm, and why should we follow it?
Humans are daytime creatures. Some of our bodily functions are deeply connected with the sun.
- When the sun rises, melatonin (the sleep hormone) starts to drop and levels of serotonin and stress hormones rise. Our metabolism works better, blood pressure rises, and alertness is heightened during the main part of the day.
- In the evening, digestive juices and bowel movements slow down, melatonin rises and we feel sleepy.
- During the night, our body rest, the main organs regenerate, and the liver performs its daily cleanse. However, this only works if we don't eat too late at night.
Eating out of sync with your circadian rhythm can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and affects weight gain.
Once our metabolism slows down in the evening, we're no longer able to make the most of the food we consume. It becomes harder for insulin to manage our blood sugar, the stomach has a harder time digesting, half-digested food will stay in our gut longer, and formation of fat reserves will be optimal.
Blood sugar levels, healthy body weight and better sleep quality all depend on us not eating late in the evening.
So what happens during fasting?
It all depends on how long you fast and your body composition. The first results of fasting are noticeable after 12-14 hours of not eating.
If you fast for 16 hours, the positive changes will be subtle:
- The liver will have less glucose stored and all the nutrients from the bloodstream will travel to wherever they're needed.
- Insulin levels will go down, and the intestines will digest your last meal in peace.
- The level of stress hormones will be lowered.
- Your mind should be clear and focused.
Fasting for a longer period will have a bigger effect.
- Because of a lack of glucose, your body will slowly go into ketosis.
- After that, its main source of energy becomes body fat.
- Cells will become more stress-resistant, use of body fat elevated and detoxification (autophagy) in full-power mode.
If you fast for a few days, things would get more intense though. After a few days of uneasiness, hunger and tiredness you will start feeling lighter, more lively and energetic than before.
- You will pee a lot and bloating will be reduced. You will need to drink more water.
- Ketosis will go into full-powered mode.
We don't suggest fasting for more than a few days at a time. We recommend that you consult your doctor if you would like to do a longer fast.
Are these effects supported by science?
Intermittent fasting is a well-researched practice – on animals and people.
While simple organism and mice studies showed that intermittent fasting really CAN elongate life, "in humans it helps reduce obesity, hypertension, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis," wrote Mark P. Mattson PhD and Valter D. Longo.
A study on mice showed that adiponectin levels – or the "skinny hormone" – increase dramatically as a response to fasting. When levels of glucose in the liver get low, insulin resistance lowers, making the metabolism more efficient, the formation of fat reserves decreased, and fat burning optimal.
Okay, so how do I start?
Think about what would be easier for you – not eating breakfast or enjoying an early dinner and avoiding any snacking afterwards?
When you decide which part of the day you’ll be eating, start pushing towards that hour by hour.
If you skip breakfast, let’s say, and eat only between noon and 8 PM, start by slowly eating your breakfast later and later until you get to noon.
Nurture the new habit and drink plenty of water while you’re not eating.
Need some help with late-night cravings?
Our night-time fat burner helps suppress late-night cravings and keeps calories from turning into fat. It helps boosts the metabolism and keeps the liver in good shape."