What if I could show you a way of eating that allows you to eat until you’re satisfied, gives you more energy, helps you lose weight, and maybe even helps you live longer? Would you be interested? If so, read on to learn three surprising benefits of intermittent fasting.
I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting since July 2015. I originally started because I wanted to lose weight and restore my health. I knew that the body prioritizes digestion over other functions because it’s necessary for survival, so if I limited the time my body spent digesting food, I would have more time for my body to work on healing itself, as God designed it to do.
What it is
Intermittent fasting is not about what you eat, it’s about when you eat. I eat all of my daily meals within a 6-8 hour time frame. The rest of the time, I am fasting. (24 hours per day – 8 hours eating time frame = 16 hours of fasting per day.) Currently, I eat breakfast at 11 am, lunch at 3 pm, and dinner at 7 pm. Allowing only 4 hours between meals eliminates the desire to snack, which cuts down on caloric intake.
Some people prefer to fast for 24-hours every few days, or once a week. I’ve found that the 16-hour daily fast works best for me. I urge you to experiment to find what works best for you.
Please note, if you are hypoglycemic, diabetic, or pregnant/nursing, intermittent fasting is NOT recommended.
Here are some of the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Simply put, when you are eating every few hours, whether small meals throughout the day, or constantly snacking or “grazing,” the body remains in a “fed” state. That means the body is constantly being called on to digest the food you are constantly eating.
The fed state begins when you start eating in the morning and ends approximately 3-5 hours after you stop eating at the end of the day. Insulin levels drop when the body isn’t busy with digestion, thus making it easier for the body to burn fat.
If you eat a “midnight snack” at 11 pm and have breakfast at 6 am, your body has only 2-4 hours of digestive rest. This simply isn’t enough time for the body to repair all damages done to it through daily toxin exposure.
Many people find that they can easily lose weight without changing the types of food eaten simply by practicing intermittent fasting. I do, however, encourage you to eat whole, real foods, which will increase your weight loss when combined with intermittent fasting.
Health benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Reduced risk of chronic disease, from diabetes to heart disease, and even cancer
- Decreased triglyceride levels
- Decreased inflammation and free radical damage
- Increased ghrelin levels, thereby reducing overeating
- Increased levels of HGH (human growth hormone)
- Decreased metabolic disease risk
- Increased insulin and leptin sensitivity
- Decreased blood pressure and resting heart rate
Many people fast to cleanse, detox, and/or purify their bodies. Some extol the spiritual virtues of fasting. Fasting is less about what one gives up, and more about what one gains. Since our bodies do not belong to us (1 Corinthians 6:19), fasting takes the focus off oneself and allows one to focus on God.
Fasting has been found to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety for 80% of patients that have chronic pain.1 It can play a preventative and therapeutic role in mood disorders like anxiety and depression.2
Making the Change
So, how do you deal with not eating until late in the morning? It did take me several days to get used to it. I found that if I structured my morning time and included my workouts at that time, the time until I ate my first meal went by quickly without much agony. Now, it’s just habit/routine for me.
I found this quote by Dr. Michael Eades that may help you in the transition.
“Diets are easy in the contemplation, difficult in the execution. Intermittent fasting is just the opposite — it’s difficult in the contemplation but easy in the execution.
Most of us have contemplated going on a diet. When we find a diet that appeals to us, it seems as if it will be a breeze to do. But when we get into the nitty gritty [sic] of it, it becomes tough. For example, I stay on a low–carb diet almost all the time. But if I think about going on a low–fat diet, it looks easy. I think about bagels, whole wheat bread and jelly, mashed potatoes, corn, bananas by the dozen, etc. — all of which sound appealing. But were I to embark on such a low–fat diet I would soon tire of it and wish I could have meat and eggs. So a diet is easy in contemplation, but not so easy in the long–term execution.
Intermittent fasting is hard in the contemplation, of that there is no doubt. “You go without food for 24 hours?” people would ask, incredulously when we explained what we were doing. “I could never do that.” But once started, it’s a snap. No worries about what and where to eat for one or two out of the three meals per day. It’s a great liberation. Your food expenditures plummet. And you’re not particularly hungry. … Although it’s tough to overcome the idea of going without food, once you begin the regimen, nothing could be easier.” — Dr. Michael Eades
Do you think you could benefit from intermittent fasting?
Here’s an infographic from Kara McMahon that explains intermittent fasting plans:
If you need help making good food choices, learn more in my new book, Be in Health: Bible-Based Health Restoration: Living in Harmony with God’s Ways Regarding Health. Available now.