To fast or not to fast
Many people have made Intermittent fasting (IF) a regular habit for the past few years. IF can indeed be extremely helpful to control weight, many chronic conditions, boost physical and mental energy.
Research on fasting points to deep levels of cell rejuvenation, toxin cleansing, cognitive boosting, going far beyond the primary goal of many fasters: weight loss.
The common way to fast
The general ‘method’ and schedule for IF that many practice is to fast for 16 hours followed by an 8-hour eating window when you eat your 2 or 3 meals. Aided by the fact that you sleep for about 7-9 hours of the 16 hours, this method seems to work for many.
However, there are also unhealthy ways to do IF, which can make you gain weight, feel tired, sleep badly, imbalance your hormones – among other ‘side-effects’.
How to fast – the right way
Fear not, the benefits of IF – when done accurately, are definitely worth considering!
I myself, have been practicing this way of eating (and fasting) for a few years and have had to tweak the timings over the years as my health and personal needs changed.
So here are some very important points and ways to benefit from fasting:
- Never fast if you are pregnant or lactating.
- Seek medical advice if you have diabetes, or other chronic condition, and/or are on medication.
- Start slowly! Increase the gap between dinner and breakfast gradually by adding one hour over a couple of weeks. So if you normally eat dinner around 7pm and breakfast about 8am, try eating breakfast at 9am for a few days, then at 10am if you feel ok etc.
- Always vary your fasting period: once you’ve established that you’re ok doing 15-17 hour fasts, mix it up. Example: 15-17hrs fasting every other day, mixed in with no-fasting days, and adding a longer fast once a week (20-24 hours), but only if you’ve been fasting for at least a few months and feel fine with it.
- Drink plenty of water (with a pinch of sea salt first thing in the morning), green or herbal teas, black coffee if you want it.
- What to eat when you break your fast: start with a prebiotic (kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi), then some good fats (olives, nuts, ½ avocado), then some good clean protein and lots of fibre (lots of vegetables).
- Peri-post menopausal ladies? You may find you put on weight if you do the same IF every day as it can imbalance and stress your hormonal and adrenal systems. This could cause some thyroid issues, or affect your hair, skin, energy levels, weight and sleep. So try doing IF every other day only, and always add no-fast days through the week. You will still greatly benefit from any fasting you do, even if it’s only once a week.
- Check your energy levels: if you find your energy dipping too low, eat and try to shorten your fasts.
- Sleeping badly with IF? Try having a teaspoon of raw honey before sleep if you struggle to get 6.5-7 hours sleep. You may also want to add more no-fast days to your week. Generally you might find your energy levels are good even with 6 hours of sleep when fasting, which is quite common.
As always, tune in to your own needs and reactions. Intermittent Fasting not for you? Don’t force it.
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