What if I told you that one of the best ways to maintain muscle tissue and reduce the signs of aging was…
…to do nothing?
Yes, nothing…at least to eat nothing.
This blog is about a fairly new passion of mine – FASTING.
Ok, to stay feeling young and toned does require regular exercise, healthy eating and relaxation, but giving your digestion a good rest now and then really helps the whole process.
Basically, during a fast, the cells of your body are able to heal and regenerate…hence it helps reduce the effects of aging.
You can even exercise at the end of a fast to increase these benefits. (More on this topic coming soon).
I started reading about intermittent fasting about 3 years ago and I have gradually immersed into the wonders of it.
“The way I test if something works for me is to try it out. I am my own experiment!
I have found that fasting enhances my fitness, mental clarity, digestion, relationship with food and has given my health a boost.”
Before you jump in, here are a few things to consider about fasting
Fasting isn’t for everybody and if you are diabetic, pregnant, breast feeding, taking medicine, a child, have blood sugar issues or have an eating disorder, please check with your doctor or nutritionist as it may not be appropriate.
As with exercise, always listen to and be guided by your own body.
Fasting gets easier. The more you fast, the more your body and mind get used to it. Before long, you actually start to enjoy it! And when you do eat, food becomes a pleasure that you respect.
It is important that your diet is fairly healthy to begin with. If you’re eating a lot of sugary and processed foods, deal with that first. After a month of reducing sugar, carbs, junk food, juice, fizzy drinks etc, you will be ready for fasting.
Review over a dozen of my previous blogs about healthy eating.
Your belief systems about health and fitness will have to change before your body can change. The age old belief about keeping blood sugar levels constant to avoid an energy crash has long since left me. I have more energy when fasting and have never crashed.
If this blog inspires you to try fasting, please take your time and increase the fast period gradually. As with nutritional changes and exercise introduce it slowly.
It will help to get your friends and family involved so that they can support you
Without thinking about it, we all fast for about 8 – 10 hours when we go to bed. The goal of intermittent fasting is to stretch this time window and only on some days.
Your job, exercise levels, diet, attitude, the people around you, the availability of foods, the seasons…all have an effect on how possible this practice will be. Simply start experimenting and find what works for you with your present lifestyle.
As with exercise, my approach to fasting is constantly changing. There are no rules to stick to and you will find your own path with this.
And a Bonus – On these fasting days, you’ll have more time. Think about it…less food prep, less time eating and less washing up.
Simply give it a go. Enjoy the practice, the challenge and the self development that fasting can bring.
Here are 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
From the website, Authority Nutrition
- Intermittent Fasting Changes The Function of Cells, Genes and Hormones
- Intermittent Fasting Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat
- Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in The Body
- Intermittent Fasting May be Beneficial For Heart Health
- Intermittent Fasting Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes
- Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Cancer
- Intermittent Fasting is Good For Your Brain
- Intermittent Fasting May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
- Intermittent Fasting May Extend Your Lifespan, Helping You Live Longer
For the full details of this blog, please see external links below
Fancy giving it a go? Here are the basics of how to start
Try this 16 hour fast one day a week for a month.
You can then increase to two days a week and increase to 18 hours, for example.
You will adapt mentally, physically and metabolically.
- Finish your last meal of the day around 6pm.
After that, consume only water, black tea/coffee (I recommend organic ‘swiss water processed’ decaf if having coffee after 2pm) or some Pukka TM herbal tea.
Sorry no wine or milk on fasting days!
On a side note, not eating at least 3 hours before sleeping is a good boost to your health. Your body should be focused on repair as you sleep and not digesting a big meal.
If you have been used to a late night snack or milky drink, at first you might have a craving for that pattern.
Resist…that’s a key part of fasting. Enjoy the challenge for your mind and taste buds.
Sit quietly for a moment and allow yourself to feel that “need” without acting on it. The apparent need will pass.
Remember, this is only one night a week and part of the goal here is to break old patterns.
Till now, you have been controlled by your patterns and taste buds. The next level for you is to place health at the top of your agenda.
- Delay Breakfast
When you wake, the fast is broken with ‘break-fast’. To keep in a fasted state, you just need to delay that first meal.
That first meal doesn’t have to be in the morning before work.
It may be your lifetime habit to have a bowl of cereal at 7am, but do you need to eat yet? (By the way, please stop eating cereal – carbs should not be the first thing in your body after sleep).
Note – Often when you think you’re hungry, your body is asking for hydration (especially in the morning). Start your day with a large glass of water.
Every time we eat it should be done consciously and when hungry.
Not in front of the TV or just because it’s a certain time of day.
- What to do instead of eating food
Start with a large glass of water, take a little bare foot time in your garden (seasonal of course) and then make a good quality cup of black tea or coffee (important point: remember the glass of water first).
Again, rather than caving in to your taste buds, old beliefs and perceived hunger…enjoy the challenge of fasting.
What a great time to meditate. Just sit quietly for 10 minutes to interrupt any doing. Observe your experience and body sensations, but keep still.
In a nut shell…
…WATER – EARTHING – COFFEE – MEDITATE
- How long can you stretch your fast? If you stopped eating at 6pm and you break your fast at 10am…you have just fasted for 16 hours! Well done.
Many people do a 16 hour fast as a daily practice. In other words you just get used to eating within an 8 hour period.
I am suggesting that you try this one day a week.
However, pretty soon your body, your energy, your digestion will want to fast more often.
When you do eat, as always, keep it simple and delicious – veg, salad, healthy fats such as avocado, salmon, eggs with home-made dressing. Finish with a slice of cake…read on!
My Current Personal Fasting Practice
Most days I fast for around 18 hours and eat in a 6 hour window between noon and 6pm.
However this past week I have switched the timing, finishing around 2pm or 3pm and then fasting till breakfast at around 8am.
I find I sleep really well and wake refreshed.
If I’m not hungry at 8am, I delay eating until later in the day.
About once a month, I have been enjoying taking a whole day off from eating.
For example, I’ll have a good meal on saturday evening and then either eat 24 hours later or sometimes I go till breakfast on the Monday. Surprisingly, some 36 hours later, I am not that hungry and feel fantastic.
Now, when I wake each morning, I listen to my body and decide whether to have breakfast or not. It am not just eating because it’s a certain time of day.
If I do have breakfast before work, it’s usually a high quality home-made chocolate cake. This gives me an energy rich, satisfying, low sugar, high fat start to the day.
Or, I’ll have a healthy blended drink made with water, whey, avocado, frozen blueberries and a squirt of Sweet-Leaf TM stevia.
Here is one of my raw chocolate recipes on the ‘Healthy Eating & Recipe’ category – see photo.
On the days I do choose to fast, I am often a little peckish around chocolate-cake-a-clock. That’s around 8am and it has been atleast 14 hours of fasting already.
But I resist, hydrate with water, have a cup of half-caff black coffee, then I’m off to teach a couple of Dojiva classes.
Here’s the interesting thing. When I return home around noon I am NOT hungry. The 8am hunger wasn’t true…just the age old pattern of having breakfast and possibly dehydration after a night’s sleep.
So, at this stage, I continue the fast until my tummy really speaks up (this is helped with a second cup of half-caff). Then I make and slowly eat a healthy and satisfying lunch.
Fasting is not a punishment. It’s a way of caring for yourself and taking control over what and when you eat.
Even after several years of practicing fasting, every fast for me is still a challenge.
However, once I decide to commit to the fast, be it 16 hours or 36, then I commit.
Energy levels, productivity with office work and good spirits accompany me with the fast.
Food and hunger no longer control me and I rest in the knowledge that I am supporting the health of my future self.
Give intermittent fasting a try, you might find you enjoy it.
Enjoy your body.
Please see great info-graffic below from dr. Mercola:
Intermittent fasting is not a form of starvation but a way for you to time your meals to maximize your body’s ability to burn fat. Embed this infographic on your site to serve as a guide for you to create a healthy eating plan, and reap the many benefits of fasting done the right way. Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.