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Intermittent Fasting 101 - A Brief Overview

As I alluded to in my last article, I have been playing with intermittent fasting recently. I kept seeing information on it blowing up many of my acupuncture groups, and like I said last time - I thought “there is no way I could do that!” which is my personal signal that I need to try something.

There are many different ways to fast, but first let’s define what it means to fast - it’s an absence of food and caloric drinks. So on a typical fast you may consume tea, black coffee and water and that’s it. 

Intermittent fasting means that you are fasting for regular periods between normal eating. There are many different lengths:

12 hours

This used to be the way we ate in our country. We would have our regular 3 meals spaced out throughout the day, and finish eating within 12 hours of breakfast.

16 hours (16/8)

This is probably the most popular version of intermittent fasting - it incorporates 16 hours of fasting followed by an 8 hour eating window. Most people achieve this by skipping breakfast, but some choose to skip dinner. You can still eat 3 meals within the eating period, it’s up to you!

20 hours (20/4)

Some people find this length of fasting the most beneficial to them. I think you just have to play around with the different windows and see what works well for you.

Why do intermittent fasting?

Fasting improves insulin levels

Fasting lowers insulin levels and improves insulin sensitivity, reducing insulin resistance. This is good because insulin resistance is linked to a lot of diseases and conditions such as PCOS, diabetes, alzheimer’s, stroke and abdominal obesity. 

Fasting can increase adrenaline and speed up metabolism

This is the primary reason I wanted to try intermittent fasting - the reports of increased energy levels. Instead of leaving you tired and sluggish, curled up in the fetal position on your couch, fasting actually gives you more pep in your step. For me this also took a reset of my mindset, but once I wrapped my head around the science, it made sense and I was able to stick with it. 

Human Growth Hormone Increases

Waning HGH levels have been associated with many aging processes, so increasing this hormone by fasting may help slow down the clock. 

My personal experience with intermittent fasting 

I was so surprised when I started to do this - my energy levels DID go up. I didn’t get all hangry and I didn’t waste away. I did it by cutting out breakfast (or pushing it a little later into the day), and I still enjoy breakfast 1-2 times per week. But I have to admit that the days I eat breakfast I don’t feel quite as peppy. 

Of course, continuing to eat well is an important aspect of this type of eating. Lots of veggies and whole foods are key. If you think that you can do the 20/4 fast and eat junk and still see great results...well, just feel free to let me know how that goes. :-)


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