Fast Track to Weight Loss - Literally
“I fast for great mental and physical efficacy.”
Fasting has been around since ancient times, well over 1000 years old, as it was utilized by Plato. Hippocrates (father of medicine) and later on Benjamin Franklin, also used this technique to heal. Fasting is also seen in various religious and spiritual practices with the notion that when the body is not using resources to digest, it diverts those resources to heal whatever may be going on inside our body. Consider when we’re sick, we’re typically not hungry- the body knows what it needs to do and at that point in time food will only be a diversion. Intermittent fasting is when you eat in a certain window of time (can vary), and fast in others.
Humans can function without food for long periods of time, but we are now living in a time (especially developed nations) where food is plentiful- and we may eat when we’re sad, bored, stressed, happy, alone, with people- pretty much at any given time. And we may not even be fully aware of it either! Not only are these extra calories that we probably didn’t account for when we then realize those pants are slightly tighter and the scale hasn’t budged (or its moved upwards instead), but each time we eat something our digestive system has to fire back up again, interrupting other processes such as breaking down what may need to be repaired, to building up and potentially storage.
Intermittent fasting sends the body into catabolism, aka breakdown mode, where it is more likely to pull energy from fat stores because it’s the only energy available. We also reduce our levels of insulin (secreted from the pancreas) when we fast, a type of growth hormone, which takes sugar (from food broken down) into cells. When we lower the amount of insulin, cells become more sensitive and effective in metabolizing our next meal, and reduced insulin levels can aid fat loss. Side note- good sleep & stress management also decreases insulin (which is why blood sugar is not just about diet). In addition to weight loss, fasting also helps control blood sugar (a common theme in hormone imbalances and thyroid issues), helps the body detox, strengthens the immune system, and decrease cravings.
Here’s how you can get started:
Begin with a 12 hour fast- Between dinner and breakfast the next day. No calories at all- including milk (or dairy free milk) in your coffee. This time frame helps reset how cells respond to insulin. If you find yourself already doing this, you can take it up a notch to 15 or even 16 hour fasts.
16/8- Fasting 16 hours (usually no breakfast), and eating during an 8 hour window, such as from 12pm-8pm, or 10am-6pm.
5:2- Eat normally for 5 days, then 500-600 calories for 2 days.
**This is in conjunction with a healthful diet and lifestyle. Sometimes when we feel like we’ve been doing the same thing for awhile, we may fall back into old habits, wondering if there’s something we’re missing, etc. Of course sustainable weight loss takes time, but there’s also our intuition that tells us we can do more. If you’ve never fasted before, start with the 12 hour one. Listen to your body too- generally speaking it’s a bit easier for men to adapt than women, but it can certainly be done!
However, this is NOT for people who feel tired all the time (i.e. can’t sleep, afternoon crashes, want to sleep after exercise), women who want to get pregnant, women who are breastfeeding, children, teens, of if you find yourself using this with the mindset/excuse to eat unhealthy.
Fasting has been shown to have major health improvements, and one of the most basic ways we can nourish our body. Strength training is also important because it helps the body burn fat instead of muscle. Consider on Sunday looking at your week and seeing where you may be able to skip breakfast, days you can cut calories if you’d like to do the 5:2 method, and of course meal prep (sometimes I do mine Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning) so I can have healthful meals throughout the week. Ultimately it’s imperative we listen to your body, as fasting is great, it may not be fore everyone, and that’s also why there are so many varieties. I’m happy to chat more about how it may be able to help you, and any questions/comments can always be left below! Happy fasting! :)