Libby Limon's Intermittent Fasting guide
8th January 2020 / Health
Libby Limon's Intermittent Fasting guide
Here at Link Nutrition, we’re not big believers in fad diets when it comes to supporting long term health, however, Intermittent Fasting has most definitely caught our attention with studies reporting an array of health benefits. What we like about it the most is its adaptability and flexibility, making it easy to incorporate into your day-to-day. There are various forms of IF, of particular interest to us is time-restricted eating, a version on IF whereby you restrict your hours of eating. In our eyes, encouraging your natural overnight fast is an easy way to get your body back into a routine the natural way. We’ve caught up with our nutritionist, Libby Limon, to get an overview of intermittent fasting as well as a few tips for those wanting to give it a go this January.
Intermittent Fasting - what you need to know.
The words ‘intermittent fasting (IF) are often associated with a fairly extreme diet intervention and only for those in need of major weight loss. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is in reality, a very simple, flexible and effective eating pattern whereby you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. The focus is around when you eat rather than what you eat, making it easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Studies have revealed Intermittent Fasting to have a multitude of benefits; from enhancing focus and energy, to weight management and long term optimal health of the body.
Why is Intermittent Fasting so beneficial?
The key to its benefit lies in the number of mechanisms involved:
Firstly, when fasting, the body is pushed into a slightly stressed state, also known as hormesis. This hormetic effect encourages the body to respond to this stress adaptively and in a more efficient manner. The same way the body does in between exercise to make itself fitter and stronger.
Secondly, the bodies’ preferred source for energy production is glucose from carbohydrate foods. When we fast eventually stores run low of glucose so the body switches to burning fat stores. This switching can enhance excess weight loss, but more importantly, it makes our cells, in particular, the mitochondrial cells, which are the cellular power stations, healthier and more efficient. This can enhance our energy, focus and overall vitality.
Lastly, by shortening your eating window, you can reduce your overall intake of food. Generally, it reduces the likelihood of overconsumption, therefore being a simple and hassle-free way to manage weight.
So far so good but ‘won’t I be starving hungry’?
If you have heard of IF, you have probably heard of 16:8. This is where you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours, it is the most researched (more by coincidence than design) structure. However, you can start to get the benefits any time after your bodies metabolism switches to fat-burning, this can generally start at 12hrs. So, if you think you eat dinner at 7 pm, having breakfast at 8 am already gives you 13hrs - most people can do without even thinking. Stretching breakfast further to 9 am or 10 am would give you 14 or 15 hours of fast, again for most people this is not too much of a challenge.
Things to consider.
- Finding your ‘sweet spot’ where you feel more focus and energised, if a little hungry, is important. If you start to feel low energy, dizzy, faint, brain fog, have cravings for carbs or sugary foods or feel tired or nauseous, these are all signs of low blood sugar and that energy isn’t being produced via fat stores. In this case, the fast has become counterproductive and you actually overstressing the body, therefore you should shorten your fast time. Ideally, build up your fast time from 12hrs over a number of days and half-hour intervals to find the eating window that works for you.
- Your ‘break-fast’ meal is also important. It is important not to spike your blood sugar, so avoid a very carbohydrate-heavy meal. Having a healthy balanced combination of proteins, healthy fats, fibres and complex carbohydrates, will ensure that the glucose is released slowly and keeps you full for longer.
- A simple ideal ‘break-fast’ that includes all these elements would be eggs any way with wilted spinach, mushrooms and avocado on a wholegrain sourdough.No matter your diet, there are few basic supplements that everyone should really take to keep your macronutrient and micronutrient levels topped up. These include vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acid and magnesium.
- Intermittent Fasting is easily adopted by most people, however, it is important to listen to your body and not take it too far. Equally, if you have diabetes, blood sugar issues are pregnant or breastfeeding it isn’t advised.
Give it a go, you don’t even have to do it every day to get some benefit. The more you do it however, it is likely your body will become more efficient and it will become easier.
If you want to find out more, or get stuck into some reading, we would recommend taking a look at the work of Michael Mosley here.
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