Isn’t this everywhere right now?
It probably hasn’t escaped you that intermittent fasting diets are everywhere at the moment, in fact you probably cant escape people online and on the TV telling you about them.
Where did it all start?
It may seem that Intermittent Fasting is the latest Fad in a 100 year old line of Fad diets which started in the 1920’s.
2 things to bear in mind here:
- Intermittent fasting as we will see isn’t a diet, its just a different pattern of eating which uses the body in a more efficient way to burn those calories and the bodies fat stores
- Fasting has been practiced by Humanity for tens of thousands of years, for religious reasons and also because before industrialization and large settlements came into being, we were hunter gatherers and intermittent fasting was part of the game, we would hunt and eat when we had a need.
Its true that this style of eating has been growing and gathering a following for the last 8 or 9 years, but its important to know that its not a new concept.
Studies actually started as far back as 1945, where mice were put onto an intermittent fasting diet, which showed a link to healthier stable insulin levels, increased metabolic rate and longer life expectancy.
In the decades since that initial research the same findings have been found in us Humans as well.
n fact there is growing scientific research to suggest that intermittent fasting of at least 12 hours per day is hugely beneficial for a range of health benefits such as:
- Reduced insulin levels (Is the drop in insulin level that allows us to burn off excess fat stores more effectively)
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced Cholesterol levels
The good news is that you we can get all of these benefits by fasting for just 12 hours a day, or put another way, sleep plus 4 hours.
Some of the more accesible reading on the science and adoption of this eating style are:
- Eat Fast, Love Longer and the Fast Diet by Doctor Michael Mosley
- The 5:2 diet by Journalist Kate Harrison, which serves as a non medical documentary almost of the benefits found by people in their everyday lives
- The obesity code by Doctor Jason Fung
However just searching Intermittent Fasting online will open up a world of documented research, hints, tips and support to help you learn more.
If intermittent fasting sounds interesting to you, there are 2 things I would say before going any further:
- Talk to your doctor, if you have an undelying health condition it may not be the best idea for you, this is a very different eating pattern and it wont be for everyone
- Research, research, research, there are so many different ways to fast that it makes sense to look at what’s out there and what may work for you
Once you have gotten the ok from a health perspective and done the research, its time to experiment, what works for you, is correct for you, there is no right or wrong way to fast.
Experiment, document the results and listen to your body, for me I go between 5 days eating and 2 days fasting in a week, through phases where I fast 20 hours a day. This works for me and I have some specific weight loss targets. This isnt for everyone but it works for me and thats great.
The mental barrier
The thing that puts most people off is the mental barrier. The fear factor of not eating for a fixed period of time is tough to get over.
However once you get used to listening to what your body is telling you and working around its schedule its far easier and more sustainable long term than a diet for example.
To quote Doctor Michael Eades a leading light in this field:
“Diets are easy in contemplation and difficult in execution, Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — its difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution”
When we diet (I’ve done alot of dieting in my life), eating the same types of food gets boring and eventually we go back to our normal habits at the beginning its so easy to begin with, but gets harder as it goes on.
On the other hand the thought of fasting and not eating for a period of time is difficult, however once you realise you arent restricted to food types or times of eating,but its a flexible way or eating, just in a smaller window in the day, the thought of missing food goes away and this becomes a natural feeling way to eat.
I have been going down this road for about 6 months and the health benefits for me have been profound, losing 22kgs, type 2 diabetes remission and better blood pressure.
I also feel much happier and more productive as my insulin sensitivity has improved I dont feel that post lunch dive anymore.
Intermittant fasting has a lot of documented benefits and if its safe for you, I’d say give it a go, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.