With each new year we often examine how diet is affecting our body, and how we can make changes to our diet to improve overall health and optimize disease prevention. Intermittent fasting is a relatively simple change you can make to your daily eating habits to improve your overall health.
Intermittent fasting is designed to limit your feeding window. It restricts the number of hours in a day that you consume your calories. Intermittent fasting isn’t about what types of food you eat, but rather when you eat them. This fasting window gives your digestive tract a break from processing food.
There are a number of methods of intermittent fasting with various fasting lengths. Many people when first starting out should aim for a 12 hour feeding window. The goal is to work up to a 16 hour fasting window with an 8 hour feeding window. For many people this may look like skipping breakfast, having their first meal at 11 am and their last meal by 7 pm. People may also choose to incorporate a 24 hour fasting period 1 or 2 days a week.
When you fast your body has a number of physical responses including lowering insulin levels, improved insulin sensitivity and breaking down fat stores. Intermittent fasting is often used in conjunction with the ketogenic diet to promote weight loss. Fasting also increases the production of human growth hormone by the body, which helps with cellular repair. There is also evidence that intermittent fasting positively affects the gut microbiome (Patterson 2017).
Some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include:
- Promotes weight loss
- Enhances cognition and brain function
- Improves glucose regulation
- Decreases inflammation
- Reduce blood pressure
- Appetite control and decreased hunger
Although intermittent fasting technically only impacts when you eat, our naturopathic doctors recommend all meals should focus on nutrient dense, whole foods. It is also important to stay hydrated and drink lots of water during your fasting period to help promote detoxification.