Have you ever been into a newspaper shop and scanned the front covers of magazines? Each one seems totally obsessed with fat loss and metabolism!
I totally get the health benefits of maintaining an appropriate weight for your frame and it’s important to keep your metabolism in working order, but trying to speed it up in a never- ending -quest to burn yet more fat is totally unnecessary.
Most of us have grown up with the ideas that we need to eat a hearty breakfast, snack regularly and never let more than a couple of hours go by without refueling or all hell will break loose. This is good advice if you’re a pro athlete, a nursing mama or someone in need of more weight. But the majority of us don’t need to eat so regularly and this constant state of eating or digestion never gives our bodies a chance to kick back and take a break.
Now it seems that groups of researchers, nutritionists and personal trainers are beginning to question the conventional wisdom of constant re-fueling and have realized that we can really benefit from not eating for a chunk of time each day.
It’s known as intermittent fasting.
For many people fasting may conjure up images of political hunger strikes, rural Indian ashrams or religious retreats! And while many religious practice does involve fasting in some form for spiritual reasons, the physiological benefits are also worth looking at. When our body is not busy digesting food it can literally take a break. It can focus it’s energy on healing and renewal.
It’s time to give ourselves a break.
When we look back to our ancestors and the way they lived, there were always times of famine and feast. There were no supermarkets with a ready supply of every food imaginable. And were our ancestors struggling with epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease? Of course not. Granted, they were battling plagues and cholera, but their metabolisms certainly didn’t suffer from those periods of low food intake.
It is now known that intermittent periods of caloric restriction actually supports your metabolism as it provides some respite from the balls to the wall 24 hour digestion cycle many of us live with.
Step 20 – Try a 12 hour fast
Now we’re all about taking small steps here, so you’re not going to try a 72 hour fast off the bat! Phew!
But you ARE going to try to create a 12 hour block of time where you don’t eat anything. Try 7pm – 7am if your schedule allows that.
Along with giving your body a break from constantly digesting all the food it’s getting, intermittent fasting has a whole host of other benefits, including:
- Regulated glucose levels (which is a good thing as insulin resistance is involved in the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes)
- Increased levels of Growth Hormone (GH is responsible for cellular growth in the body and is mainly produced at night. GH levels fall as glucose levels rise so avoiding food close to bedtime supports GH production. Super important to know if your body needs any repair after exercise or illness.)
But I’m always starving before bed?!
- Go for a walk. Take your mind off things and benefit from the fresh air and added movement.
- Stretch / yoga. It’s always a good idea to do yoga in my opinion!
- Drink a glass of water or herbal tea to combat the “empty tummy” feeling.
- Avoid “habit eating’ triggers such as watching TV if you’re feeling vulnerable.
And after the overnight “fast” comes the best bit….
Break the fast with an awesome BREAKfast! It’s in the name afterall 😉
I broke my fast with baked oatmeal today. You can prep most of it the night before so it’s mixed and in the oven in less than 3 minutes.
My kids call it breakfast cake and it’s amazing fresh out of the oven but just as good cold. And don’t limit it to breakfast time either! it’s good any time of the day with a dollop of yogurt and some fresh fruit (if you’re feeling fancy).
What are you breaking your fast with tomorrow?
** Commonsense Caution**
Don’t do this 12 hour fast if you’re preggo, nursing, underweight, diabetic, struggling with mental or physical illness; Speak with your doctor or a nutritionist for personalized advice. And if at any point you feel unwell then just stop the mini fast – your health is your wealth, friends!