Unlike many other “fad” diets, intermittent fasting has been proven to have real, lasting benefits that go far beyond weight loss. In fact, this is one of the best ways to ease the symptoms of or completely reverse a whole host of physical and mental issues. Whether you just want to get your body in the best shape possible or you proactively want to treat a specific condition, intermittent fasting is sure to, at the very least, help you on this journey.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Fasting, in general, refers to not eating. This isn’t starving, though. Proper fasting involves skipping meals for a certain period of time, and leaving out unnecessary food in the form of snacks and beverages. It means training your body to tell you when it needs nourishment, and not eating when you’re not really hungry.
Most of us eat out of habit or in response to boredom or cravings. Or we respond to the slightest pang of hunger by eating immediately. This results in overeating, and seldom gives the body a chance to rest and recover between meals. This is important because it allows your physical body to rest, but also gives it the opportunity to use waste materials and fat as energy, rather than simply using energy from the constant source of food.
You should only eat when you feel real hunger. Real hunger is when you have a headache, feel shaky, or feel your mood becoming negative or irritable.
It may take between three and four months of fasting for your body to adjust and to learn to trust its hunger cues. During that time, expect to feel hunger, tiredness, or headaches from time to time.
A true fast is limited to only consuming water for a set period of time. But black tea, black coffee, or supplements won’t really break the fast or compromise what you’re trying to achieve.
Types of Fasting
There are different ways of fasting and it’s important to try different methods to find the way that works best for you. The different methods include:
- 16:8 – this fasting pattern is the most common one and involves eating for a window period of 8 hours a day and then not eating or drinking anything but water or black coffee or tea for the remaining 16 hours. This is a relatively easy fast, since a lot of the 16 hours is spent sleeping. So, you could eat supper at 18h00, and then again the following day at 10h00, for example.
- 5:2 – eat normally (healthily) for 5 days of the week. For the other 2 days, restrict your calories to about 500 per day.
- Eat-stop-eat – twice a week, go for 24 hours without eating at all.
- Skip meals – a simple approach to fasting is simply not to eat until you’re really hungry. Make a concerted effort to skip meals every now and make it more regular as you adjust.
- Alternate-day eating – every second day, limit your calories to 500 or 600 per day.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
There are countless benefits to intermittent fasting. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Reduced insulin levels (which means fewer spikes and dips of energy and hunger during the day)
- Weight control (while causing less muscle loss than calorie-restricted diets)
- Loss of visceral fat
- Better heart health
- Lowered blood sugar levels
- More energy throughout the day
- Reduced oxidative stress, which is one of the main causes of many chronic diseases, as well as of premature aging
- Controlled blood pressure
- Healthier levels of triglycerides in the blood
- Less “bad” cholesterol
- Reduced inflammation in the body
- A dramatic increase in human growth hormone (HGH). This helps you to burn fat, heal faster, repair muscle tissue after exercise, and repair organ tissue.
- Prevention or easing of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis
- Improved general cell health and efficiency (e.g. helping the cells to get rid of toxic waste)
- Increased lifespan
- Improved cellular and hormonal functions
- Less chance of getting cancer
- Help with recovering from chemotherapy symptoms (if you already have cancer, consult with your doctor before trying intermittent fasting)
- Reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes
- Improved brain health (which translates to improvements for those with anxiety and/or depression)
- Less chance of getting Alzheimer’s. There’s also evidence to indicate that it could help to prevent other neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.
- Reduced asthma symptoms
- Lowered risk of a stroke
- Eased symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD’s) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Warnings and Possible Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
This way of eating (or not eating) requires an adjustment in your habits. So, for the first few weeks, you might experience some hunger, nausea, headaches, or fatigue.
It’s also important to note that some health conditions might mean that you need to reduce the number of hours or days during which you fast. For example, those with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or cancer can certainly benefit from intermittent fasting, but should consult their specialists to ensure that they follow a carefully controlled routine. It may also not be optimal if you have kidney stones, diabetes, or reflux; or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have any of these conditions, do extra research and consult with your specialist first.
Essential Support While Fasting
There are many ways that you can keep strong and healthy while getting into the groove of intermittent fasting. Include these products in your daily routine:
- Salt – it’s essential to get enough sea salt while you’re fasting. The sodium gives your body minerals to draw from while you’re off food and prevents the withdrawal headaches. Pink Himalayan salt is also great.
- B vitamins
To get a comprehensive supplement with these and other important trace minerals, take Norden’s Ultimate Organamin every day. It’s also essential that you keep prepared with healthful food. So, if you know you’ll be in the office or at friends’, take the food you want to break your fast with you so that you’d don’t overindulge on junk food out of hunger.
Hoodia Gordinii is a natural appetite suppressant that helps to stave off hunger without any heart palpitations. It’s also safe for diabetics or anyone that suffers from high blood pressure. Browse a host of fantastic supplements to put your body in the best condition possible on the Norden’s Ultimate online shop. These go a long way in supporting the effects and benefits of intermittent fasting.