By now, if you are a foodie or dieter, the term “intermittent fasting” has likely crossed your path. It’s a term that describes several types of fasting, but first, a word or two about this practice.
Much as we like to think we’re quite adaptable as humans, the brain actually changes very slowly. In ancient times, humans had to forage for their food just like all members of the animal kingdom. There were times where long periods passed before they found their next meal.
To survive and not die of starvation, their brain adapted to this unpredictability and would slow calorie burning (metabolism) down to a crawl until the next meal was found. Hence the experience of fasting became part of our DNA.
Intermittent fasting is a way to cycle between periods of fasting and eating. The 16/8 format is currently a very popular method to lose weight and improve health. That means you fast for 16 hours per day and eat everything else within an 8-hour time frame.
Water and unsweetened black coffee or herbal tea are the only exceptions. Healthline states that in addition to enhancing weight loss, 16/8 intermittent fasting is also believed to improve blood sugar control, boost brain function, and enhance longevity.
The 16/8 method has shown promising results in a number of studies. People report a loss of 10 pounds over 2–3 months of fasting.
If you are curious about how you would do with this eating style, decide on the 8-hour time frame that works best for you. You may also opt to stay on the 8-hour time frame for a few days a week rather than every day as you adjust to a schedule.
Dr. Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute studies the effect of intermittent fasting on mice. A control group eats any time, and the experimental group is limited to 8 hours of eating.
The experimental group repeatedly showed a 28% drop in weight and improved markers for healthy aging. It also showed an improvement in sleep as the hormone melatonin works more effectively once the hunger hormone leptin quiets down.
Various studies are ongoing on intermittent fasting and its effect on aging, disease, weight, and overall energy. There are several forms of intermittent fasting you might want to explore. You’ll be hearing much more on this topic in the next decade, and I will continue to track this practice in my blog posts.
While there are countless theories about weight loss that come and go, what remains the single best way to nourish yourself and maintain a healthy weight is a diet of simple whole foods.
Your plate should consist of about 1/4 protein (lean meat, fish, tofu, beans, lentils), 1/4 whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, farro), and 1/2 vegetables (a mix of sweet vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, beets and bitter vegetables like greens) with a piece of fruit if you like dessert.
My book, Food Becomes You – Simple Steps for Lifelong Wellness, contains many recipes and menus to make this work easily in your life.
What do you know about intermittent fasting? Do you practice it? Have you tried the 16/8 format? Which time frame works best for you? Please share your thoughts and experiences with our community!