Intermittent fasting is an approach to fasting that restricts eating periods to certain hours of the day. Intermittent fasting is relatively easy to incorporate into life, and many people are already practicing this style of fasting without even knowing it.
The typical time period for intermittent fasting is between 12-16 hours, so someone who is practicing this style of fasting could eat dinner in the evening at 6 p.m. and break their fast in the morning between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.
This is just one example that many people find to be an easy window, but others who like to eat a late dinner may decide to shift the fasting window back by eating before bed and fasting until lunchtime on the following day.
Why Practice Intermittent Fasting?
Many people have been told that eating small meals every few hours is a way to keep the metabolism steadily functioning for continuous digestion. Intermittent fasting takes a completely different approach.
Even a shortened intermittent period of fasting allows the body to completely rest from all digestive activity for a substantial period of time and on a regular basis, giving rest to the entire system.
Our metabolic systems are almost constantly overwhelmed by foods and beverages during waking hours.
This practice allows the body a true break and diverts energy to healing and other necessary bodily functions. The benefits to this style of fasting can include a loss of body fat, reduced inflammation and higher levels of energy.
What are the benefits of this particular style of fast? Scientific studies have shown that intermittent fasting can improve cognition, memory, and clear thinking.
This style of fasting also offers us insulin resistance, which can prevent fat accumulation and insulin instability by reducing a factor called IGF-1 thereby increasing insulin sensitivity.
This type of fasting could improve immunity, lower the risk of diabetes, and improve cardiovascular health. Fasting can also lower stress on the body, and neurological stress in the brain.
Intermittent Fasting for Woman
Intermittent fasting is effective for both men and women, however, specific concerns have been raised regarding intermittent fasting and women’s health. If done incorrectly, some women may be affected by hormonal imbalance. However, there is a logical explanation for the variance in approach for men and women.
Women are particularly sensitive to the signals of starvation due to their generalized ability to reproduce. If the body experiences a threat of starvation it will increase production of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which signal hunger.
In animal studies, it has been shown that intermittent fasting done incorrectly by women could lead to a hormonal imbalance, and long-term eating irregularity could cause fertility problems. The practice can also contribute to issues with eating disorders if a woman is prone to experiencing these diseases.
How Can Women Safely Incorporate Intermittent Fasting?
One of the easiest ways for women to incorporate intermittent fasting is by fasting only a few days per week, rather than every day.
In this approach, women gain increased benefit by practicing fasting, but are not required to completely change their eating schedule.
The practice of fasting a few days a week is just as effective, and is safer, for women than every day intermittent fasting. By taking a gradual approach the body is allowed time to adjust to fasting without entering a panicked starvation mode.
Women can fast 2-3 days per week on non-consecutive days and for a period of 12-16 hour. On fasting days, participating in yoga, stretching or a light workout is ideal, while on non-fasting days, a more high intensity training or strength training program is appropriate.
Anyone who is fasting should drink lots of water and only consume beverages that do not break a fast by stimulating metabolism. And, after a few weeks of successfully intermittent fasting with positive results, it is possible to add an additional day of fasting.
What Can You Consume While Fasting?
It is allowable to consume a few items during an intermittent fasting period that will not metabolically break the fast.
Herbal teas are good to consume during an intermittent fast because they have detoxifying and medicinal benefits and can reduce feelings of hunger.
Coffee will not break a fast, and caffeine provides energetic stimulation and is high in polyphenols, and enhances the brain and mitochondria.
Caffeinated coffee should be limited to 2-4 cups per day, while decaf coffee can be consumed without ill-effects. Coffee must be taken black or with an artificial sweetener that does not contain maltodextrin, dextrose or sucralose.
Stevia is an option for a natural sweetener that does not raise insulin levels or blood sugar and is therefore permissible during fasting. Apple cider vinegar contains minerals of potassium, magnesium and iron, and also balances electrolytes.
Breaking a fast gently can be done with some lemon added to apple cider vinegar. This will stimulate digestive juices and will prepare the body to consume food and drink.
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