A new practice called “intermittent fasting” is now sweeping the nation because of its effectiveness in weight loss and numerous other health benefits.
“There are several approaches. One is to fast on water for one or two days each week,” Jesse Schwartz Ph.D. a leading nutrition expert and president of Living Tree Community, writes. “Here at Living Tree Community we fast for about 32 hours each week.We begin Sunday night and end on Tuesday morning,” Schwartz adds.
“My personal recommendation is to fast every day by simply scheduling my eating into a narrower window of time each day, states Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading physician and nutrition expert. “I find this method to be easier than fasting for a full 24 hours or more, twice a week.
In order to understand the concept of fasting while still eating every day, it is important to understand how our metabolism works.
It takes most people around 8-12 hours for the body to burn sugar to glycogen. Most people do not deplete their glycogen storage because they eat 3 meals or more a day. This gets our bodies used to burning sugar as our primary source of energy rather than fat. So in order for intermittent fasting to help with weight loss, the fast must be at least eight hours, which is much easier than a full day fast.
“You could restrict your eating to the hours of 11am and 7pm,” Mercola said. “Essentially, you’re just skipping breakfast and making lunch your first meal of the day instead. This equates to a daily fasting of 16 hours—twice the minimum required to deplete your glycogen stores and start shifting into fat burning mode.”
However, it is not just about fasting. When practicing intermittent fasting, a proper healthy diet with organic foods becomes even more important, because you are eating less.
So before trying to fast, healthy diet practices must be adopted.
Exercise is very important for weight loss and overall health as well. It is not just about fasting “A potent combination is vigorous exercise while fasting, Schwartz said. “Imagine waking up in the morning and doing stretches, push-ups, situps, and the like and then having the first meal of the day at lunchtime. Switching to a fat burning mode may take some weeks but once you’re there feelings of hunger will vanish. You will feel lighter and more alive.”
Three reasons why intermittent fasting works:
1. Impacts insulin sensitivity:
Excess sugar in the diet promotes insulin resistance, which is a major risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. With intermittent fasting, fat becomes a fuel source for the body instead of sugar, which lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
2. Reduces oxidative stress:
Fasting decreases the amount of free radicals in the cells, which prevents oxidative damage to our cells which is associated with disease and aging.
3. Increased resistance to stress, disease and aging:
Intermittent fasting activates a response in the body similar to exercise, which helps the body cope with stress and resist disease and aging.
A study published in the Journal of British of Nutrition compared the effectiveness of intermittent fasting versus caloric restriction in overweight women. There were three groups in the study. Two intermittent fasting groups and one calorie restriction group. According to the study: “The two intermittent restriction groups lost twice as much weight as the chronic restriction group, but the intermittent groups didn’t differ from each other. In addition, more people in the intermittent groups lost weight: 65 percent of intermittent restrictors, compared with 40 percent in the chronic restriction group.”
A study from the Intermountain Medical Center showed that intermittent fasting might provide heart health benefits as well. When fat is the primary fuel source during intermittent fasting, cholesterol levels and the risk of diabetes decrease. Diabetes and high cholesterol are considered major risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Other health benefits of intermittent fasting:
Normalizing hunger hormone levels
Lowering triglyceride levels
Reduces inflammation and free radicals
Preserves memory function
“To get started, consider skipping breakfast, and avoid eating at least three hours before you go to sleep. This should effectively restrict your eating to an 8-hour window or less each day,” Mercola recommends. “Remember, it usually does take a few weeks, and you have to do it gradually, but once you succeed to switch to fat burning mode, you’ll be easily able to fast for 18 hours and not feel hungry,” Mercola add
Dr. Jesse Schwartz had this to add: “The hardest thing about fasting is coming off a fast. Coming off a fast or breaking a fast is as important, if not more important than the fast itself. If you come off a fast improperly, you can do yourself harm. We recommend breaking your fast on a green smoothie of kale, parsley, lettuce, Swiss chard and celery along with chopped carrots and beets.”
Dr. Jesse Schwartz’s green smoothie recipe:
- 3 chopped carrots
- Chopped organic parsley, lettuce, Swiss chard, celery, beet greens, kale, and collard greens
- 4 freshly squeezed oranges or 2 cups of spring water
- 1 chopped beet
- 3 ounces of chopped ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Half an avocado
- Drink immediately
Makes sure all ingredients are organic.
“For vigorous exercise we recommend enrolling in a dance or martial arts class and training regularly,” Dr Schwartz recommends. “We also recommend yoga and stretching. It is important to start your day, prior to breakfast, with a sequence of stretches. We do not recommend jogging.”
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