A month ago I decided it was time to get serious about my fitness, or lack thereof. Thirty-six years after I started I finally graduated from university. With that milestone attained I realized that it was time to finally grow up and start adulting. With that came a new commitment to fitness. So far, so good.
I am one month into my physical fitness regimen; going to a gym with a private trainer three days a week and walking 5-6 miles on alternating days. I also started a new food intake pattern I learned about from my trainer: intermittent fasting. With this style of fasting I only eat between the hours of 12:00 noon and 8:00pm. That means I am fasting for 16 hours each day. I was skeptical at first because I had been eating small meals five times a day, which had been recommended by a dietician several years ago. I have to say that despite eating in constrained hours, I am rarely hungry, I eat an average of 400 calories less each day, and I have much more energy and my mind is clearer.
My trainer told me that intermittent fasting has some great benefits and I researched it to see if he was on point or just spouting a trendy new mantra for weight loss. What I found was really interesting. Recently, a study in the journal Cell Metabolism showed intermittent fasting may decrease risk factors for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, for example. I call that good news. But there was more.
Intermittent fasting allows the body to use fat as it’s primary source of energy instead of sugar. Many athletes now use fasting as means to hitting low body fat percentages for competitions.
Intermittent fasting gives your digestive system a rest, and this can energise your metabolism to burn through calories more efficiently. If your digestion is poor, this can effect your ability to metabolize food and burn fat. Intermittent fasts can regulate your digestion and promote healthy bowel function, thus improving your metabolic function.
Fasting has shown to improve brain function, because it boosts the production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF.) BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. This protein also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Intermittent fasting improves the immune system because it reduces free radical damage, regulates inflammatory conditions in the body and starves off cancer cell formation. In nature, when animals get sick they stop eating and instead focus on resting. This is a primal instinct to reduce stress on their internal system so their body can fight off infection. We humans are the only species who look for food when we are ill, even when we do not need it.
More research is ongoing to back up these benefits seen in early research. All I know is that I feel better, feel sharper, and I have lost 8 pounds in the past month. Forty more pounds and I will hit my goal weight of 235, which is down from an all time high of 417 about thirteen years ago. The plateau I hit and couldn’t break through has finally been broken and the weight loss is happening again.
OK, coffee time is over and it’s time to take the three mile walk home!