What is Intermittent Fasting?

By Azzy Aslam

Performance & Change Coach. Helping you create new habits and turning them into your superpower!

27 Jan, 2020

Fasting has always been part of my life. Although it was mainly for a few weeks at one time of the year and that’s it. There was some pseudo science stuff about how fasting was good for you, but I never really got any sensible or detailed explanations.

It was around 2012 when I started to see bits of information based on science. In 2013, I came across the book ‘The Fast Diet’ by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer. There was also a science documentary on the same subject by Dr Mosley. The documentary and the book started to answer and, in my view, highlight some of the real benefits of fasting and it was backed by science.

This started my journey in learning more about how the body deals with food and what happens when it goes into fasting mode. Many of us, if not all, are genuinely concerned about our health and the health of our loved ones. I have seen the effect of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle on a few close family members and some friends and colleagues.

The subject has become over the yearswith many more scientific sources adding to out understanding of fasting. Some of which I will cover in other blogs. For now let’s focus in on what is intermittent fasting.

 

What is fasting?

The first thing is to take a look at what we mean by fasting.  There are slightly different versions of fasts! The two key ones are:

  • Dry Fast – This is when you eat nothing and have no fluids either. No food, no water, tea, coffee etc…nothing. You see this fasts associated with different religions across the globe.
  • Water Fast – You have no food as with a dry fast, but you can have water, black tea, black coffee, green tea. NO MILK or SUGAR! The key with any fasting is to stop the body from dumping insulin into your bloodstream – milk, and as we know, sugar does just that!

There are other versions of fasts, but the the above two are the ones you are likely to come across.

The other question about fasting is whathow long do you go without food (and fluids) for it to be recognised as a fast. The consensus appears to be anything between 16 – 24 hours. Some people feel faint just thinking aboiy not eating for 16 or more hours, but don’t forget you will be asleep for 7-8 hours. So don’t panic. You already go without food and water for 8-10 hours each night.

 

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is committing to a water fast a couple times a week and to fast for at least 16 hours. You can go with a dry fast, however, if you are starting out I recommend water fasting until you get to grips with what works for you and how you organise your timings.

Mondays and Thursday are the most popular days to fast or you can choose any two days.  Do leave 2-3 days between the fasts.

The best time to start your fast is the evening. Pick a time you will eat your evening meal. Sometime between 6pm – 8pm works well. This means you STOP eating by 8pm. (There are some brain benefits to stop eating 3 hours before going to sleep – will cover this in another blog). The next day you can break your fast at 12noon if you stopped eating at 8pm – this gives you 16 hours. If you can push for a little longer to make it 17 -18 hours, even better. Remember, keep drinking water. Plenty of it.

When you break your fast, focus on eating a balanced, light meal. Your digestive system has had a break and you don’t want to kick it into action to deal with a heavy meal!  What has worked for me is a brunch type of meal. Some protein (egg/tuna), salad, small toast, and tea. Other days I may just go with soup, and cheese on toast! There are plenty of suggestions on the web for you to check out.

Over the years I have moved to fasting most days. Currently I am do what is termed 5-1-1. Five days of 16-18 hour fasts, one day for a 24 hour fast and one day eating (or feasting) as I would have done before.

I am aware I haven’t written about the benefits of fasting, something I will do in future blogs otherwise this one will become way too long.

If you want to change your eating/fasting habit to change your life book my Power Habits 60 Minutes call.

 

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