Did you know that our bodies are not actually designed to eat the standard 3 meals per day?
Do you think our neanderthal ancestors sat down to a meal at regular intervals thrice a day? Nope. Just as we need to reset our brains and bodies with sleep, as do our digestive tract and inner organs - yet soooo many people are yet to understand this crucial fact.
This is where Intermittent Fasting (IF) comes in.
IF can be a period of 12 - 16 hours daily, or even up to a few days per week whereby you only consume water and/or low to no calorie drinks. Some people simply skip meals, some limit their eating hours to a smaller window. I tend to recommend the latter.
An example would be eating meals between 10am and 6pm or 8am and 8pm.
Before we go into the how, here's some reasons WHY IF is great for healing and calming your gut:
1. Positive changes in the overall composition of gut microbiota
2. Reduction of insulin resistance
3. Increased immune response in cells
4. Production of a compound (β-hydroxybutrate) that blocks part of the immune system involved in inflammatory disorders like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or Alzheimer's disease
4. Significant reduction of inflammatory markers (cytokines, C-reactive protein)
5. Increases autophagy "cell clean up" - this has implications in neurological diseases and cancer
It can be pretty tough for people who are new to IF. Women especially can display some negative side effects in the form of unpleasant hormonal responses. I work with super busy women and so came up with a unique way for them to reap the benefits of IF without throwing their hormones into a frenzy. I teach a modified crescendo-style fasting - a modified fast two or three nonconsecutive days a week and in my experience, this works very well.
Here's how you can get started with my technique:
1. Fasting 2 or 3 non-consecutive days per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example).
2. On fasting days do light cardio, strength training, or yoga.
3. Ideally, fast for 12 - 16 hours.
4. On days where you workout intensely, eat normally.
5. Make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of water (tea and coffee are ok without milk and sweeteners).
6. After two weeks of this, you may introduce an additional fasting day.
7. Optional: Consider taking 5 to 8 grams of BCAAs during your fast. A branched-chain amino-acid supplement has few calories but provides fuel to muscles. This can help with hunger pangs and feelings of fatigue.
Start slowly, fast for just 12 hours 2/3 times per week, once you feel comfortable you can extend the fast. It is likely you will fee an increase in energy, stamina, and cognition. By taking part in an intermittent fast, you are only doing good to your body and contributing positively to your overall health. Fast away!