Fasting is an ancient tradition that is still practiced today by many religions including in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism for natural health healing and spiritual awakening. In Buddhism fasting is also used as a way to create self-discipline in order to reach a state of self-awareness and control.
These traditions follow the lifestyle of our ancient ancestors on their hunter-gatherer plight. Our bodies still have this natural ability to preserve stores of energy (in the form of fat adipose tissue), which can be up-cycled to glucose energy in the event of fasting if no food is available. This ability to maintain abstinence from food evolved over centuries, and today we continue to be able to happily function without food for long periods of time.
The western-world is now adopting these fasting traditions in an effort to gain control over physical and mental wellbeing.
I fast for greater physical and mental efficiency.”
Can fasting help me to lose weight?
Intermittent-fasting is a powerful dietary intervention that is easy to integrate into your lifestyle by simply abstaining from food for 16 hours 2-3 times per week. The English language already suggests this method of eating: Break- FAST. This approach allows the body time to deplete its glycogen storage in the body, so that we can switch to fat as fuel.
What’s so good about fasting is that research has shown that reducing the independence of insulin to control our energy from food we stop over-working this machine and this helps insulin-resistance that may lead to the onset of diabetes. The secret here is that integrating this into our lifestyle helps us to control the energy we eat, and at the same time depletes energy storage so we burn fat faster.
Does this affect my hormones?
Yes, intermittent-fasting alters your hormone levels by lowering insulin and increasing your growth hormone levels, together with boosting the release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline) to action FAST weight loss.
5 top tips to intermittent-fasting
- Leave a 16 hour window Eat your last meal at 7pm then eat brunch at 11am. This will deplete your liver glycogen storage to kick-start mild ketosis, which switches your body to a fat-burning mode to promote weight loss.
- Keep hydrated Drink plenty of non-calorie fluids such as water, green tea, and coffee with a touch of almond or soya milk. Caffeine is an appetite suppressant so you’ll feel less hungry, it also helps to boost metabolism.
- Cut sugary carbs Watch-out for carbs on the high glycaemic index (GI) as they break down easily and cause a fast rise in glucose which leads to insulin response and fat-packing! Reduce you carbs and let your body feed on fat instead. What’s more, lowering your insulin will help your kidneys to flush out excess salt and water to beat the bloat.
- Boost protein, healthy fat and veggies Eat a variety of protein to get all your essential amino acids, such as chicken, turkey, lamb, salmon, tuna and seafood, and perfect-protein eggs. Eating protein helps satiety so you are less likely to snack; what’s more it burns a lot of calories when it breaks down. Eat lots of nutrient-dense healthy fat to help you feel full, try oily fish, avocados, coconut oil and butter. Switch to low GI veggies, including lots of leafy greens such as kale, broccoli and spinach. Insulin doesn’t respond so rapidly to these veggies, which stops fat-packing in its tracks. Eat: 20–50 grams per day of carbs.
- Lift some weights! Your metabolism will start to slow down as you start losing weight, so to keep the momentum going by lifting weights 3-4 times/week. You’ll burn calories exercising, and as your muscle mass increases you’ll also increase your metabolism as muscle burns more energy than fat tissue due to diet-induced thermogenesis. Or, why not try HIT training, or another cardio workout instead such as jogging, swimming or cycling to keep the momentum of weight loss going.