I have known about the concept of intermittent fasting for a very long time, or so I thought. My only personal experience with it was when my husband did an extended fast for 30 days. He loved it and swears by it but somehow that got it in my head that fasting had to be about long periods of time without food.
My journey with cancer many years ago left me without a gallbladder and at the time I remember the typical advice Doctor’s advice to eat many small meals throughout the day and keep my diet low in fat. To me this meant fasting would not be a good fit for me. Boy was I wrong.
A few months ago I was listening to a podcast, and I really couldn’t say which one, I listen to so many, and the topic was intermittent fasting. I was amazed by the stuff I heard, especially the concept that you could eat and fast every day…ie the intermittent part. In fact you already ARE fasting for a huge chunk of the day, when you are sleeping. You just extend that.
Down the rabbit hole I went…devouring Audible books about fasting, listening to podcasts dedicated to the topic, and joining fasting Facebook groups for tips and support.
I could fast 15-20 hours a day and still get amazing benefits. I had never heard of 16:8 (fasting 8 hours and eating within 8), 18:6, and OMAD (one meal a day). There were so many different ways to fast I was just silly not to try, especially when they discussed some of the benefits. The draw for me was the benefit to gut health and how fasting allows your gut time to heal and repair any leaky gut issues. That is the reason I decided to start fasting and now there are so many reasons why this has become a lifestyle for me. And yeah, dropping 25 pounds and three dress sizes in one month, that was some big time icing on the cake.
When your body is constantly digesting food every few hours your gut and organs get little time to rest. They always have jobs to do digesting food, filtering toxins, and absorbing nutrients. They do not have time to do necessary repairs, healing damage caused by some of the inflammatory foods you may be eating. There is nighttime, when you sleep, but that is not sufficient if you have gut health issues, as so many of us do. Fasting gives your gut large windows to do repairs and fix any leaks. You are also improving the overall efficiency of your entire digestive tract.
Your whole body actually has more time to fix issues, such as getting rid of accumulated toxins. These toxins accumulate in your blood and vital organs, inhibiting their performance. Fasting gives your body a good “flushing” with increased water intake and down time to get rid of unwelcome guests.
There are a couple reasons why fasting for weight loss is amazingly effective. First, your window for eating is greatly reduced from the typical 8-16 hours in which you eat three full meals. Because that window is reduced you are usually skipping at least one full meal and you get full much more quickly. I find you are less likely to overeat when you do eat again. Many people do OMAD or a similar version where you have a snack or light meal for lunch followed by a regular dinner. Anyway you choose to do it, unless you binge like crazy, you are usually at a caloric deficit, which will result in weight loss.
Fasting also helps you become fat adapted. Your body is used to burning carbs for energy and when those carbs are not available because you are fasting, your body learns to adapt and burn fat for energy instead. This is actually the way your body is supposed to work, but the constant eating and the eating of lots of carbs and sugar, messes with these “factory settings”. When you become fat adapted your body burns fat for fuel with efficiency and you lose extra weight you are carrying around. Add a ketogenic diet to fasting and you will be melting you lose so much weight, because your body will become a fat burning machine.
This is one of my fave things about fasting. You get beautiful skin! Your body has loads of time it can now dedicate to healing and repairing at cellular and microbial levels. It starts to flush lingering toxins (that may cause breakouts) out of your system and it does this through your more efficient and hydrated kidneys and liver and not your skin. The increased hydration plumps up all of your cells and reduces pore size, your skin feel more taut and less “saggy”. Wrinkles disappear or at least look much less prominent. More hydration also means better blood circulating and bringing fresh blood to the skin to heal and refresh it. I don’t think my skin ever in my life looked or felt as good as it did after only two weeks of fasting. This reason alone makes fasting the winner winner of the chicken dinner.
You Eat Healthier
It is much easier to plan meals when you are only planning one or two a day for yourself. If you get your spouse on board, and that is easy once they see the changes in you, then it gets even easier to meal plan. Because there is less food to think about you can really concentrate on those key meals and make them as healthy and nutrient dense as possible. On days when I doing one meal a day (OMAD) I really make sure I am getting quality protein, organic foods without toxins, lots of fresh veggies, drinking my bulletproof coffee with MCT oil and collagen, eating fat bombs, and supplementing. Making your meals a nutritional powerhouse event becomes fun and easy. Oh and food tastes a million times better, even the veggies, so you don’t want to waste your window on crap food that makes you feel bad physically and mentally.
Fasting seems to clear the mind and help you focus. I am not sure if this is the extra hydration, the physiological rest that your gut and organs get, or if it is related to the discipline you learn by fasting. At any rate I can think more clearly, write better, exercise better, and honest to goodness…colors seem more vibrant.
There are of course many other benefits but these are the major ones that have prompted me to fall in love with fasting and to make it a way of life. Enjoy!