SFH #17: Intermittent Fasting 🍴

What, why, and when

We are living in an age of abundance. One could argue that our industrialized food culture is the best example of abundance gone awry. I've practiced several methods throughout the last two decades to move away from the convenience and unhealthy nature of processed foods and fast foods. One of my favorite methods currently is intermittent fasting. I love to start the day eating a big salad for 'break'fast. 😋

Intermittent fasting has been a growing trend over the last few years. IFing is simply a version of fasting where the aim is to shorten your eating window inside a given day. The range of fasting is typically between 12 and 16 hours. Suppose you finished dinner at 7:00 pm, then you wouldn't eat your next meal until 7:00 am up to 11:00 am the next day. There are protocols of IFing where you can go longer than 16 hours for a fast, though most proponents recommend testing what cadence and periods work for you. I've tried myself and found that I enjoy and see the most benefits doing 3 to 4 days a week with a 15 to 16 hour fast, and other days I fall back to 12 hours. Twelve hours doesn't feel like a fast to me any longer. I frequently find that I'm not receiving hunger signals until 13 hours to 14 hours later.

What is intermittent fasting, and why do it?

What are the key benefits we can receive from IFing?

  • Neuroprotection. Fasting was found to stimulate the growth of new neurons.1 This 'recovery' period can optimize neuroplasticity, learning, memory, and the brain's resistance to stress. 🧠

  • Insulin sensitivity. Fasting between meals allows our insulin levels to go down, and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar for energy. IFing allows our insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat. Our current culture of frequent snacking and hyper-palatable foods has caused massive insulin resistance. These patterns are why the number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. 🔥

  • Circadian health. The timing of our meals plays a big part in our circadian clocks. Our circadian rhythm is like a master clock for our body. This clock sends hormones—mainly cortisol, to keep you alert and awake, or melatonin, to put you to rest—to every cell of your body to keep everything in sync. Following an IF protocol in line with your natural circadian pattern can make for healthier blood sugar levels, better weight management, improved sleep, and more. 🛌