Fasting’s latest incarnation is the easier-to-manage, health-enhancing protocol commonly known as intermittent fasting or ‘IF’.
So, what is IF? In its simplest form, it’s about doing dinner early and breakfast late.
Why do it? Because IF is the greatest thing since sliced, grain-free, low-carb bread! It’s an amazingly simple, hassle-free way to improve health basics like blood sugar, blood pressure, weight management and cut disease risk. For some people it can even eliminate the need for pharma drugs. Intermittent fasting is powerful way to help reset your metabolism, so here’s why I encourage all my patients to take advantage of this simple and effective practice:
Grazing is for cows – not people.
Since the dawn of mankind, humans have feasted, and fasted, depending on how successful the hunt or the growing season turned out. These days, however, most people in the developed world are feasting just about all the time, with no food-free periods or metabolic downtime. Unlike our bovine brethren, in humans, all that grazing leads to the weight and metabolic problems so many are currently grappling with. If you’re one of them, it may be time to quit grazing – or more likely flooding your body with a constant stream of food – and start intermittent fasting.
Put weight, blood sugar – and aging on notice.
By phasing deliberate periods of fasting into your routine, which mimics how the human body evolved, you can return metabolic regulation to a more balanced state. This 16-hour digestive downtime lets your body enter a prolonged “fasting state” that keeps insulin levels low, reduces blood sugar and signals your body to burn fat stores – a metabolic trifecta! In addition, as you fast, you’ll help increase cellular repair processes like autophagy which removes waste material from cells and helps dampen inflammation. That can help slow aging and optimize mitochondrial function which means greater protection against many of the diseases we fear most, such as cardiac problems, cancers and neurological decline. With IF, there’s a lot for your body to like!
Not into starving? Neither are we.
So, what’s involved in IF? Little more than waiting about sixteen hours between the meals that start and end your day. That means if you finish dinner by 7 pm, then you should ‘break the fast’ 16 hours later, at about 11 am. If you finish at 9 pm, then breakfast will be at 1 pm. If you need to ‘snack,’ during your 16-hour window, think liquids: tea, bone broth or coffee can help fill the gap.
School your hormones and use IF to your advantage.
Intermittent fasting, or ‘IF,’ isn’t about dropping 50 pounds overnight. It’s about re-educating your hormones so they can function optimally as part of a longer-term weight-loss process. Done consistently, IF can help normalize blood glucose, blood pressure, and liver function. Some people use IF weekly as a preventive tool against modern scourges like heart disease, stroke, cancer, fatty liver, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease. For those with weight and/or metabolic issues, a more intensified version of IF can be used to mitigate and manage diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity. Another bonus? IF can also help you reframe your relationship with food, re-learn what hunger really is (versus boredom or thirst), and help you balance out occasional indulgence without feeling the need to resort to dietary fads or extremes.
Fast intermittently, on a schedule that works for you.
For most people, doing IF once or twice a week is great for basic prevention. If experimenting with a 16-hour fasting window feels too rigorous, focus instead on following the golden “12-hour Rule’ of good digestion – leave at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. That time will give your body the downtime it needs to initiate autophagy, aka the clearing out of the cellular ‘trash,’ make repairs, heal and detoxify.
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