In the modern world, the vast majority of us are fortunate enough to never go hungry.
Maybe there’s that one time every few months when we have to work late, skip lunch, and by the time we get home for dinner we feel like we could just about eat anything.
On the other hand many of us are so used to eating large portions all of the time, that not only are we increasingly faced with an obesity epidemic, but we start to believe that the feeling of being hungry is unnatural.
This is absolutely ridiculous when we consider that hunger has been a normal state of being for most of humanity for 99% of our history!
However some health minded individuals are bucking this trend by practicing what is commonly known as intermittent fasting.
Put simply intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating whereby you cycle between specific time windows of eating and fasting in a conscious and measured way. When you enter a fasting state a number of neuronal processes occur to adjust for the change and allow the body and brain to draw from other energy sources (that aren’t food) without letting you lose your cognitive functions.
Without going into too much detail, these changes essentially teach your body to consume energy more efficiently and refresh your brain by removing toxins.
How to do intermittent fasting?
There are a number of ways to get started with intermittent fasting. There are two basic ways that I’m going to recommend you start with.
The first is the 8 hour window. This is where all your days’ meals are consumed within a time-frame of 8 hours, and for the other 16 hours of the day you fast. You can try doing this for a few days or a week, and see how you feel.
The second is the 24 hour fast. This is simply a 24 hour period without eating anything at all, or consuming less than 400-500 calories.
You should obviously consult with your doctor before practicing either of these.
But isn’t it healthy to eat small meals regularly?
This is true, but it is also good to make sure you are shocking your body every once in a while by mixing up your habits. The body and brain are shortcut machines so anything you do too frequently will start to lose some or all of its benefits after a while.
While food to us is known as everything from a guilty habit to a social occasion, a culture and a performance enhancer, we can sometimes forget about the main reason we have food at all – for physiological growth and maintenance.
Intermittent fasting can balance the body and mind by essentially hitting an ancient reset button on some of our key hormonal processes.
Remember that the body and mind are intricately related. Every year more and more research comes out showing how this is so, whether it be the link between posture and mood or gut health and brain function. So balancing one will generally aid in balancing the other.
So, what are some of the specific benefits of intermittent fasting for your body and mind?
There are a few ways that intermittent fasting helps you with weight loss. One of the most notable is that it improves your insulin sensitivity, which is a huge aid in the fat burning process as insulin insensitivity leads to uncontrolled weight and eventually diabetes.
It also has been found to help increase Human Growth Hormone (Hgh) which assists in the building of muscle and the burning of fat.
Another benefit is that intermittent fasting creates better sleep and this translates to improved muscle repair and regeneration. The process in play here, known as autophagy, has also been recognized as an important defense mechanism against neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Weight Loss and Metabolic Disease Risk
Fasting has also been found to improve weight loss, even when overall calorie intake remained the same, as well as reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and increasing sex hormone binding globulin.
Our brain is usually supplied with energy in the form of glucose that we get through our nutrition. However, there is another form of fuel that we can use – typically reserved for times of scarcity – which are chemicals known as ketones. When we fast our brain switches to this ketone, known as beta-HBA, and our concentration, creative thinking and neuroplasticity improves.
One study found that “fasting was frequently accompanied by an increased level of vigilance and a mood improvement, a subjective feeling of well-being, and sometimes of euphoria.” This is a great alternative to pharmaceuticals at a time when they are being overprescribed by the boatload.
Fasting is a great way to shock your brain and body into a reset, eliminating toxins and improving your overall health and vitality.
Have you had any experience with fasting? Let us know in the comments!