Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating that involves regular periods of fasting, followed by periods of eating.
To put it simply, non-eating and eating are blocked throughout the day. I have been using intermittent fasting for the last 18 months and will never go back!
The program I opted to use is 18:6 which requires that I fast for 18 hours (from 6 pm to 12 pm) and eat for 6 hours (12 pm to 6 pm).
Please note, I am 40+ and my dietary requirements are not the same as someone under the age of 30 or those who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
Here are the benefits and results:
- Caloric reduction
Because I’m only eating two meals a day, my caloric intake has decreased. This creates a lovely correlation with weight loss. After hours without food, the body exhausts its sugar stores and starts burning fat which is known as metabolic switching.
While it’s important to ensure you’re still meeting the suggested intake of protein, fiber, nutrients, and vitamins, removing one meal from my day makes it easier for me to ensure I don’t eat too much.
It also made it easier for me to stick to my planned meals (lunch and dinner). During the times when you’re not eating, water and zero-calorie beverages such as black coffee and tea are permitted.
- Improved insulin sensitivity
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
I immediately noticed this effect. As I already follow a high-protein, high-fiber diet, not eating breakfast gave my body the ability to burn fat and focus on digestion without being bogged down by a meal first thing in the morning.
This positive effect on my blood sugar, also positively impacted my hormones which resulted in reduced PMS and mood swings.
This leaves me feeling energized and I never experience cravings or crashes now that my body has learned how to burn fat instead of craving more calories from sugar/carbs.
Please note, I do not work out in the morning. Since beginning fasting, I work out in the afternoon after my first meal.
Most of the available research shows that intermittent fasting can help people lose body weight and lower their levels of fasting glucose, fasting insulin, and leptin while reducing insulin resistance, decreasing levels of leptin, and increasing levels of adiponectin.
Certain studies found that some patients practicing intermittent fasting with supervision by their doctors were able to reverse their need for insulin therapy.
- Reduced inflammation
I noticed a dramatic benefit to my skin, a reduction of PMS-associated break-outs, and a softer, more radiant glow.
Some studies have found that intermittent fasting may help to reduce inflammation in the body, which may have a protective effect against various diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
It is also proven to improve tissue health. In animals, intermittent fasting reduced tissue damage in surgery and improved results.
- Heart health
I have never had any heart issues, in fact, I’m often asked by doctors if I’m an athlete based on my heart health. But intermittent fasting has been proven to improve blood pressure and resting heart rates as well as other heart-related measurements such as lowered cholesterol levels.
So I’ll continue to use it to maintain my current heart health.
- Physical performance
In other studies, young men who fasted for 16 hours showed fat loss while maintaining muscle mass. Mice who were fed on alternate days showed better endurance in running.
While there have not been as many studies for women, what I noticed is an increase in energy levels which benefited my workouts.
- Increased mental clarity and focus
Fasting in the morning, in combination with black tea, means I can focus easily on work and smash my goals. I also don’t get the afternoon slump.
Studies show that intermittent fasting may improve brain function and increase mental clarity and focus. This may be due to the increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that helps to support the growth and development of new brain cells.
Studies also discovered that intermittent fasting boosts working memory in animals and verbal memory in adult humans.
Some research suggests that intermittent fasting may help to extend lifespan by activating cellular repair processes and reducing oxidative stress in the body.
Just check out Dr. David Sinclair’s book Life Span for all the proof you need. He only eats one meal per day and this has dramatically reduced his biological age.
It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before starting any new eating pattern. Overall, fasting has upleveled my life across the board. I don’t believe our bodies were designed to be in a constant state of digestion.
Because you’re giving your body a break from food, this allows the body the ability to work on other aspects of health and well-being.
But most importantly, listen to your body and always do what works best for you.
You should avoid intermittent fasting if you meet the following criteria:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with type 1 diabetes who take insulin. While an increasing number of clinical trials have shown that intermittent fasting is safe in people with type 2 diabetes, there have been no studies in people with type I diabetes.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.