Like anything in life, if we jump on the bandwagon without doing our research then we rarely achieve and sustain the required results – especially in the world of food and nutrition with the constant stream of trending movements sweeping through.
This too applies to Intermittent Fasting, although for me intermittent fasting is not a fad, diet or a 30-day challenge that requires calculation, will-power and resentment.
Initially, all that’s required is education and commitment. The rest becomes effortless.
So let’s set the scene. Due mostly to our current unconscious eating habits, consumption of processed food and misinformation – we have become a society of sugar-dependant, cortisol driven and vibrancy-deficient humans.
We habitually reach for a coffee kick-start combined with a quick or sometimes big, breakfast because as we’ve all heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – I wonder if that statement was originally released by Kellogg’s or Uncle Toby’s.
What happens over a period of time, we have conditioned our body, or mind more accurately, to eat regularly regardless of whether our body requires it in the way and times in which we re-fuel.
Our energy and concentration levels drop rapidly and we cannot function without a hit of that sugary injection. And dear one, I’m not just talking about a doughnut, caramel slice, latte or soft-drink. I’m referring to foods that we’ve been lead to believe are of nutritional benefit to us – such as breads, pasta, unlimited amounts of sweet fruit etc.
What we use to fuel our body, determines how often we re-fuel and how our body responds to that which we’ve consumed.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
In simple terms it’s making a conscious decision to skip certain meals. It’s a daily ratio between hours of fasting and feasting – enabling you to consume your energy sources during a specific window of the day and then not eating for the larger remaining window.
What does it do to your body?
The short bio-chem lay answer is: it turns you into a fat-burner instead of a sugar-burner. More accurately, your body begins to use fat as it’s primary source of fuel, giving you longer periods of sustained energy and clarity of mind. The liver from fatty acids produces water-soluble molecules called Ketones during periods of low food intake and carbohydrate restriction.
What’s so good about Ketones?
The solid mass of our brain is 70% fat, therefore the brain is best fuelled by the very thing it consists of – Fat.
Ketones produced from these fatty acids enable your brain to effortlessly and precisely focus on ideas and provides psychological strength, clarity and endurance to deal with complicated decision making processes.
All this is very difficult to achieve when your brain is fuelled by glucose, because sugar is metabolised differently in the body. Glucose is designed to give you short bursts of energy, and it does that for your brain too. Quick, sharp, short flurried bursts of concentration, sparking different ideas, however no ability to sustain that energy without supplementation for long periods of time. Ever heard of ADHD? Hmmm, food for thought.
What changes will I see in my body?
Firstly you eat less and you feel lighter because you are satiated by the healthy fats for longer.
In addition to a clear mind and longer, more consistent levels of energy, some additional effects are the normalisation of body weight, reduced inflammation of the body, reduced anxiety, clear skin, stronger hair and nails, stabilised hormones – goodbye polarised mood swings.
It allows your digestive system to rest and recover. Cortisol levels – the stress hormone – drop and cells begin to regenerate in a healthy manner, without internal disruption. Each of these, I have personally experienced.
I must recommend, that you check to see if your liver is functioning well first.
When I first tried intermittent fasting a few years ago, my liver was not functioning well at all. It was not metabolising fat properly which in turn almost reversed the expected results of fasting. See my blog – I found the answer to my fat loss dilemma – on this here.
How do I fast intermittently?
There are different ways to approach fasting and the common approach is 16:8 – meaning don’t eat for 16 hours and then eat within the 8 hour period for that 24 hour period.
For 4 or 5 days a week I will fast at 20:4 and occasionally I will do a 24 hour fast. Now, for those of you who are thinking… No way, I couldn’t not eat for that long – I want you to know that eventually you don’t have to think about fasting.
You begin to tune in to your body’s signal of true hunger, notifying you that it needs re-fuelling.
This is usually expressed as slight fatigue and physical weakness. It is definitely not expressed as a craving, gittery shakes or a thought-generated desire to eat.
What you eat is also crucial to the success of turning your body into using fat for fuel. The LCHF – low carb/healthy fat – approach eliminates the ‘out-of-control’ hunger urges in which most struggle with. See my next blog for tips on what to eat and how best to break a fast.
How do I know if I’m a sugar burner or a fat burner?
Neuro Feedback Specialist, certified Nutritional Therapist and friend Nora Gedgaudas – author of Primal Body, Primal Mind – proposes two questions, the responses to which will help determine whether or not you’re experiencing blood sugar issues/imbalances:
1. When you haven’t eaten for 3-4 hours, do you have brain fog, fatigue or cravings for certain foods?
2. How do you feel immediately after eating? Do you feel a sense of food craving relief and possibly tiredness, soon to be hungry again?
Right now, I want you to think and reflect on these questions.
If you answered yes to one or both, then darling, you can bet you’re a sugar burner and it’s highly possible you have blood sugar issues. Remember we eat when we feel hungry, and we stop when feel not hungry. Massive difference between not hungry and full.
So my loves, if you feel this is something you’d like to explore or have already explored, I’d appreciate your feedback and please share it with a loved one for whom you care.
On a holistic side note ~ given that originally, the primary reason for all religious fasts was a set period of time for teaching self-reflection. A nutritional fast invites us to consciously examine, explore and identify – for ourselves – whether what we are putting into our body is benefitting us or hurting us – Annie.