Monday 5th September 2016

By mira

I went from all-day snacking years ago to finally eating meals and cutting down on snacks, but only recently have I started intermittent fasting. This is something I’ve not previously heard of (possibly because it’s not brand oriented), but I feel better now than I’ve felt with any diet (and I’ve tried many)! So I had to share it.

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To give you some background, ‘The overarching concept is that as the body has to spend less time and resources on the high energy tasks of digestion it has more capacity to focus on activities that benefit us in other ways’ says Brad Shepherd on Dr Axe’s website. ‘These include ridding the body of toxins as well as repairing and rebuilding tissues. In addition, the smart approach to fasting also puts the body in an ideal state to lose weight. All of these things have significant potential to increase potential and our ability to avoid disease.’

I thought that fasting for 16 hours a day would be difficult but when you factor in sleep time, it simply involves not snacking at night and skipping or delaying breakfast, which is actually so much easier than you think, especially after a couple of days of getting started. You can start with 14, then extend to 16 and then to 18 hours a day, drink plenty of water, a few mugs of hot water with lemon and cinnamon if you like it and maybe some coffee if you need it (no milk ideally but I usually add a dash). For those who don’t tend to snack, 14 hours is probably the normal number of hours to go without food, but for someone like me, a fasting period cuts out all the possible blunders of unnecessary snacking.

You’ll realise very quickly that you’re often eating out of habit rather than actually feeding your hunger. I certainly did not realise how much I mindlessly snack because I think I need and want food. In fact, I now don’t get hungry after waking up until I actually start eating, at say 2 or 3pm. This does not mean that I fast like this every single day, but I’m having less dips and slumps during the day, I’m eating well when I do eat and I feel more energetic.

‘The most common eating pattern in modern societies of three meals daily, plus snacks, is abnormal from the perspective of human evolution, an international group of researchers wrote in an article published online Nov. 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.’ (from Live Science) ‘Ancient hunter-gatherers often ate only intermittently, the researchers noted in their article. This suggests that the ability to function at a high level both physically and mentally during extended periods without food may have been crucial in human evolution, and that the human body may have adapted to perform at its best with intermittent fasting.’

The benefits of fasting really are endless, and the first thing you’ll find is a new lightness, feeling thinner, more active and awake. You’ll manage yoga, running or the gym first thing in the morning without needing any food or drink to kickstart your body. I’d say try it 5 days a week and allow 2 days off to make it sustainable and more manageable. When you break the fast, have something wholesome and filling, avocados, salad, quinoa, brown rice, mung beans, daal… anything that will give you nutritional energy and goodness. And by giving yourself a couple of days off, you can still indulge in a well-deserved weekend brunch with full satisfaction.

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