As a personal trainer I strongly encourage and advise my clients to be aware of their eating habits and choices. I’ve touched on gut health in a previous blog. Since then Kombucha is popping up in every supermarket. I cannot go without my daily dose of home brew Kombucha and Kefir. I’ve also started fermenting cabbage and making my own kimchi or sauerkraut. The benefits to my health have been significant from improved skin, stronger more resilient immune system, better quality and more sleep, and constant energy over the day.
I now want to talk about the next big thing in Health and Nutrition….. Fasting.
Fasting is part of many religions and cultures around the world and has been used as a healing tradition since the ancient Greeks. The problem with the word fasting is that people think of it as not eating for days. This thought is quite scary for some that absolutely love their food. To go without is a fearful thought. There are however other ways to fast. The latest studies show that intermittent fasting can have great health benefits including weight loss, improved concentration and energy, and delay the onset of many age related diseases.
It’s more about the patterns of eating, our habits that have evolved from childhood. We have been brought up in a very commercial world. The supermarkets have done their job very well by marketing the three meals and day and snacking. Of course they want to sell their snacks and foods for your big meals. However the human body and digestive system is not designed to function with so much digestion going on. Constantly snacking causes secretion of insulin levels which in turn blocks the powerful fat burning hormone growth hormone. Furthermore the extra calories consumed are generally not used and stored as fat. Fasting helps the body use fat as an energy sourced.
As the majority of us have most likely never thought of fasting, breaking your current habits is always tough especially if you are not aware that it is detrimental to your health. The first step is to reduce your food intake to three meals a day, without snacking. Once you have mastered this reduce your meal intake to twice a day. This is called 16/8 intermittent fasting, which is easily achieved through skipping breakfast. For example dinner at 6 pm and then not eating until 10am the next morning which is ultimately 16 hours of fasting. It is after the 14 hour mark that the body really resets itself to its true function of homeostasis. Then you can eat in the following 8 hours. I prefer to wait again to eat until the 8 hours is over and not snack. In these two meals it is important to eat whole foods, fresh fruit and vegetables, quality grass fed or biodynamic meats and fish along with healthy fats found in oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.
Some of you may have heard of Michael Mosleys 5:2 diet. This is restricting your diet to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men two days a week. I have tried this and find it quite tough mind you I didn’t give it a real crack. I think once you make it a routine it becomes easier especially when you know what you can eat on the restricted days. There are plenty of calorie counting apps that can help you in the beginning. I would definitely try the 16/8 which is very achievable. Everyone is different and you need to find out what works in your own lifestyle and schedule. It’s about taking responsibly for your own health and wellbeing.
Happy fasting….Happy tummy…. happy mind