Let's be clear, there are different types of fasts and to go into all of them, we would need to write a book. For the purpose of today's article, we are just talking about intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting is basically cycles of fasting (not eating/consuming) and cycles of eating/consuming calories.
You naturally fast every night when you sleep (unless you're a midnight snacker, which we do not recommend doing as it messes with your blood sugar, metabolic health and circadian rhythms).
The Trend of IF (Intermittent Fasting)
The trend if IF has swept the world in recent times and it continues to gain popularity as people learn the many benefits. I have even found myself getting involved with IF and have seen some great results with it.
Intermittent fasting can add so much to your life as it improves health and wellbeing and also weight loss and metabolic flexibility. Regular intermittent fasting can (potentially) help protect us from modern diseases such as metabolic disease, obesity, diabetes, chronic inflammation, hormonal issues and even cancer!
- Better heart health
- More healing (as the energy to digest food/drink is freed up)
- Weight loss (fat-bur and better weight management
- Improved metabolic flexibility
- Autophagy (cellular clean up)
- Stimulation of HGH (human growth hormone)
- Reduced cholesterol and triglycerides
- Activates stem cells
- Helps to reduce inflammation
- Promotes mindful eating and drinking
- Improve hormonal health
- Slows down ageing
Who is IF for?
Intermittent fasting is safe for many people but it's not necessarily safe for everyone, that's why it's important to know yourself and your current health status and seek medical advice from your trusted health practitioner.
If you have low blood sugar levels, you may only be able to do a more gentle intermittent fast (a window of 12 hours may be your max)?
Never compare yourself to others who may be able to fast for longer (for example, they may be able to do a 16 hour fasting window). Often as well, men can typically fast with greater ease than us women as they are very different hormonally etc.
We are all bio-individuals and have different status's of health. Some people can go great periods of time without consuming calories whilst others need to eat more frequently.
As women, we are more susceptible to hormone imbalances, so we need to go with caution when jumping on any health trends. This is not to say that IF is not good for women, it can in fact help to prevent hormonal issues, and this is why we say you must know your own body and health status.
Fasting if Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar) or Hormone Imbalance
If you have either of these conditions you may be able to still intermittent fast but your fasting window may be shorter. If for example, you have dinner at 7pm, you may only want to do a 12-14 hour fasting window, which means that you would break your fast (have breakfast) at 7am or 9am (respectively).
Who IF is NOT for?
Intermittent fasting as we said, is safe for many but not for all. Have a look at the conditions below where it is not recommended to fast.
- If you have adrenal fatigue (burnout)
- If you are breastfeeding or pregnant
- If you are under the age of 18
- If you have diabetes (type 1)
- If you have seizure disorder
- If you have severe hypoglycemia
- If you are incredibly stressed out (fasting can add more stress to your body)
Tips for Daily Intermittent Fasting
1. Do a Window that works for you
As mentioned, you must find a window that works for you as an individual. You might be 12, 14 or 16 hours. In more extreme fasting windows, people do 23 hours and just eat one meal a day (also known as OMAD).
OMAD is a more extreme form of fasting and it's important to know the risksYou may notice the following symptoms occurring from eating one meal a day:
- Concentration issues
- Low energy
On the other hand, OMAD may really work well for you. Do what is right for your own body and needs.
Something else worth mentioning, is that when you do OMAD, you may be more prone to binging on food when you do eat and your food choices may not be that great. If eating just one meal, you may tend to crave more simple carbs. You can help yourself by choosing more complex carbs (like black rice and sweet potato) and healthy fats, animal protein and low-starch veggies.
These foods will fill you up, nourish and satiate you so you feel less hungry, more satisfied and have better balanced blood sugar levels.
2. Know Your Why
What is your reason for fasting, what are your goals? Is it to improve gut health? To improve your metabolic health and gain metabolic flexibility? Is it to lose/maintain weight? To slow down ageing, prevent disease or something else?
Define these goals to know your why. When we know clearly why we are doing something, it helps to keep us motivated and on track when things get tough.
3. Drink Lots of Water
Sometimes, we are actually thirsty rather than hungry but our body can get confused. It might think we are hungry but we just need to consume more water.
Of course, listen to your body, if you feel your blood sugar dropping severely, perhaps it's time to break your fast?
Always drink filtered water over tap as tap water contains health-disrupting chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride and chloramine. These are halogen chemicals that disrupt the thyroid gland which may lead to thyroid issues.
Stay away from plastic water bottles too as these contain endocrine-disrupting plastics. opt instead for reusable ceramic or stainless steel drink containers.
4. Push Back Breakfast Time
If you are able and your life situation permits, push back the time that you have breakfast in the morning/late morning. Try to eat later and later by gradually pushing breakfast back an hour each day until you get to your desired fasting window.
If you usually eat at 7am, try 8am and so on. This too will depend on your own individual requirements and health status.
5. Eat well During Non-Fasting Periods
Some people think they can eat what they want during non-fasting (eating) periods, but this is simply not true, nor is it ideal from a health standpoint.
Opt for healthy choices that include healthy fats, fibre (form non-starch veggies) and animal proteins (animal proteins are complete proteins that give you the 9 essential amino acids we need for good health).
If you're a vegetarian or vegan/plant-based eater, you might like to add the Perfect Organic Plant protein powder into your diet as this was carefully designed to be a complete protein source, with 3 organic and delicious seeds. It will give you a good dose of omega fatty acids too!
Avoid sugar, simple carbs, grains, junk food, processed food, fruit juice and alcohol to help keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Healthy blood sugar is one of the fundamental cornerstones to good health, disease-prevention and if you're a woman it can help you to transition into menopause much more smoothly.
So where ever you are, start to work on improving your blood sugar levels today! Your body will thank you for it.
6. Get Adequate Sleep
When people say "you can sleep when you're dead", I just about want to punch them in the eyeballs! It is seriously the dumbest belief to hold if you want to be healthy.
Sleep is another crucial key to good health and disease-prevention. If you don't get enough sleep your health will suffer now or later on. Sleep deprivation has been linked to brain degeneration, hormone imbalance, poor gut health, anxiety and mental health issues, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, cancer and much more!
If you're struggling with getting to sleep at night, you might like to read our sleep blogs here. Sweet dreams my friend! 🌙
Fasting is known to improve sleep as well as fasting helps to improve blood sugar and insulin resistance but again, you must be eating wisely in your eating window, eating pizza/pasta or other simple carbs will spike your blood sugar and disrupt your sleep!
7. Eat Quality Fats
Quality fats are vital for optimal health and they are incredibly nutritious and satiating (satisfying/fulfilling). We are not talking about any vegetable oils here as these oils are highly inflammatory and disease-causing. Avoid all of the following oils and definitely avoid margarine! Margarine is a highly refined and processed product known to cause health issues.
Believe it or not, butter (organic) is a much healthier option!
Avoid these Fats/Oils:
- Canola/rape seed oil (same thing)
- Corn oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Cotton seed oil
- Grape seed oil
- Rice bran oil
- Soy bean oil
Choose these Healthy Fats Instead:
- Avocados and their oil
- Olives and their oil
- Organic high-quality MCT oil
- Organic raw cold-pressed coconut oil
- Nuts and seeds (activated if possible)
- Fatty/oily fish (wild salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, trout etc.)
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Full-fat dairy (if tolerated)
8. Eat Adequate Protein
Protein is essential for life (whether you're fasting or not)! If you are protein deficient, you are not going to be well or have longevity, it's as simple as that. It is literally the building blocks of life.
When you're intermittent fasting, protein is important to help you achieve results. It's also important to eat the same amount of protein that you normally would if not doing IF.
To work out your own individual protein requirement, head over to our blog 'What's a Macro' where you'll find the equation to work out your own individual needs.
9. Eat Your Veggies!
Vegetables contain gut-loving fibre and some veggies even act as prebiotic fibre to feed and nourish the good gut bacteria.
Eating veggies when you're intermittent fasting will also help you achieve your goals and they help to keep you full and satisfied (this can prevent binging on junk/processed foods and simple carbs like bread, pasta and rice).
When we stay away from simple carbs and other blood sugar-spiking foods it can help us to keep more balanced blood sugar levels (naturally) and this helps to fix insulin resistance issues and prevents problems down the track.
Women over the age of 40 (as our hormones change continuously), can greatly benefit form IF and keeping blood sugar levels balanced.
10. Move Your Body!
Optimising our hormones and our fasting is done through diet but also movement (exercise). Many people hate the word "exercise" so I prefer to say movement. Move your body how it likes and enjoys to move. It has to be enjoyable to be sustainable for you.
Something cool to know is that when you move (exercise) in a fasted state, this tends to lead to higher fat loss. So perhaps get your movement/workout in first thing in the morning to set your day up right.
11. Stay Busy
Staying busy helps to occupy your mind to help keep you from boredom. Boredom can promote emotional eating and binging on things that won't serve your highest interests.
Staying busy doesn't include Netflix/TV sorry! These things can actually make your more hungry as blue light raises blood glucose.
Opt for healthy habits such as reading, walking, nature, hanging out with pets, meditating, stretching, yoga, drawing/painting, writing/journalling, gardening, dancing, bathing, swimming, gym, crossword puzzles, surfing, cycling, etc.
12. Don't Compare Yourself with Others
The secret to succeeding with anything in life is to not compare yourself to others and fasting is no different. As we mentioned earlier, everyone is bio-individual and different and one should not compare themselves to the next person for each person has unique needs.
Staying on your own authentic path and staying focused on you is the way to go.
13. Get a Doctor's Opinion
Getting a professional medical opinion by a doctor who knows you well and knows your health history, could be beneficial if you have had health challenges. They will be able to best guide you once you have discussed your goals for intermittent fasting with them.
14. Eat Smaller Portions
When we overeat, we can overfill and expand our stomach and this can cause us to want to eat more and more in the future which can see us consuming more calories than perhaps we need. Overeating also can cause metabolic inflexibility and this often leads to inflammation and health issues.
Eating slowly and mindfully can help us to avoid overeating. Chewing our food very well and not being distracted by social media, TV and devices.
That's about it from us today, we hope you enjoyed our intermittent fasting blog and get to try it for yourself (if it's suitable of course).
Disclaimer: the information in this article is intended purely as information and not health advice. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure and one should always seek expert advice from their trusted health practitioner.