With the three-meals-a-day rhythm recommended in low carbohydrate diet you automatically do a 12-hour fast every day, between your dinner and breakfast the next morning. This is ideal when preventing weight gain when you don’t suffer from significant insulin resistance. However, if you need to lose weight and do suffer from insulin resistance, including longer periods of fasting into your diet might be very beneficial.
Long term fasting is not necessarily healthy as it weakens muscles and bones (starvation). However, short term, intermittent fasting seems to be very beneficial. It actually is the ancient secret of health and has been practiced throughout human history.
“ Instead of medicine, rather fast a day.” -Plutarch
Fasting is natural. For example, when animals are sick, their natural instinct is to reduce food. Humans are the same. When recovering, and the body’s healing work has been done, appetite will return to normal.
“To eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.” -Hippocrates
Our bodies are also very efficient at storing energy and using this stored energy when food supplies are scarce. Our bodies work in two states, when we eat, the energy in our food is ingested and used or stored away for later use. When we are not eating, our bodies start burning energy that is stored as there is no more coming from food. These states need to be in balance. However, if you are constantly eating every few hours, there is no balance. Only eat max three meals a day. Fasting will restore this balance even quicker and help you in your weight loss project also, as it simply allows the body to burn off excess fat. If you are constantly eating, like often recommended, your body will only use the food you eat as energy and never burn the body fat.
I found several studies about the health benefits of this type of fasting. The main benefits were that intermittent fasting supported cardiovascular health and also was a very efficient way to combat metabolic problems. Intermittent fasting does decrease insulin levels and increase fat burning. According to one study, intermittent fasting increased the amount of growth hormone significantly which means that this is one of the best anti-aging methods there is.
Intermittent fasting also improves mental clarity and concentration, and increases energy.
Intermittent fasting also stimulates autophagy, the cleaning process in cells in which cells are eating their own defective parts in order to recycle nutrients. This process is very important for our health and it is good to know that the modern way of constant eating actually prevents this from happening.
Intermittent fasting means that you don’t reduce the amount you eat, but have longer periods between meals. There are several ways to do this. Some people fast for 24 hours once or twice a week or eat just one meal a day. Others fast for 20 hours and only eat during a 4-hour window, usually just their dinner.
What has worked best for me is that I fast for 16 hours, and eat within 8 hours time. When fasting, I usually eat my dinner at 7 pm, and then don’t eat anything until 11 am the next day. There is no morning meal. When fasting this way, you can either eat 2 or 3 meals during the 8 hours of eating. I normally have a cup of coffee with cream at 11 am and then lunch at 1 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Or I skip my coffee and have my first meal of the day at 1 pm.
When fasting, don’t consume any calorie containing food or drink. Remember to drink enough water, fizzy and still at least 2 litres a day. You can also have tea or coffee if you like. I normally enjoy a lot of green and other herbal teas, like peppermint tea.
Remember that if you feel hungry, it will soon pass. You won’t be constantly hungry, but hunger comes and goes, in waves. As your body gets more used to fasting and is burning your fat stores, you will feel less and less hungry.