As we at Homefield know, fasting has a myriad of health benefits. Our clients leave us feeling lighter and brighter both physically and mentally. Their skin is glowing, their eyes are bright and shiny, their digestion feels much more comfortable and their energy levels have soared.
The act of digesting, assimilating and eliminating food is thought to use up 30-50% of the body’s energy. Fasting allows that energy to be diverted into healing, cleansing and restoring the body to health. Research has shown that fasting triggers many physiological processes that allow the body to clear cellular wastes. One of the most important of these processes is called Autophagy (literally ‘self-eating’) and is thought by experts to be the single greatest factor in slowing down the aging process. Another process is Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, whereby the body targets malignant and dead cells that may interfere with healthy ones. The unhealthy cells are flushed from the body during fasting, allowing healthy cells to function at optimal capacity. When we allow the body the time and space to perform these important processes, cellular dysfunction and free radical activity are virtually non-existent.
Fasting has been shown to decrease the risk of many diseases and to improve the quality of life and longevity. The question is once you leave Homefield, how do you incorporate these benefits into your every- day life?
Daily calorie counting or restriction is tedious and difficult to maintain. However, Intermittent Fasting or Time-Restricted Feeding are two ways of easily cutting down the amount of food you eat.
This form of eating was popularized by Michael Mosely in his book “The Fast Diet”. The 5:2 Diet as it is also known involves eating normally (but healthily) for 5 days per week, and fasting on 500-600 calories for 2 days per week. Another version of this is Alternate Day Fasting where you eat normally (but healthily) for one day and fast for the next. Many people have found both of these methods to be an easy way to shed extra pounds and maintain a healthy weight long term. Improved energy, reduced blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin, cholesterol, and inflammation levels are additional benefits.
However, your choice of how to “spend” your calories on your fasting days is very important. If you choose to waste your 600 calories on a Mars Bar and a packet of crisps, don’t be surprised if you don’t achieve or maintain the weight loss you desire, and this will certainly do nothing for your health. But chose instead to have, for example, a vegetable juice for breakfast, a veggie-based smoothie for lunch, and a veggie soup for dinner and you have achieved your calorie allowance in a way that will support your overall health.
A study with mice compared two groups. Both were given the same amount of calories per day but one group was allowed access to food throughout the day and the other only allowed access to food within a 12-hour window. The restricted feeding group extracted fewer calories from the food they ate, had lower body fat, better liver function, and cholesterol levels and a far healthier microbiome (gut bacteria).
Again there are different versions of Time-Restricted Feeding (TFR) but a 12 hour overnight fast is the easiest way to incorporate TFR into your regime. In other words, if you eat dinner at 7 pm, you don’t eat breakfast before 7 am. When you can, e.g. at weekends, try to do a 15-16 hour overnight fast, having a late brunch instead of breakfast, and having just two meals instead of three.
Thinking has also changed with regard to snacks. Whereas the conventional wisdom was that a healthy snack mid-morning and afternoon would keep blood sugar levels stable, the new thinking is that constant snacking releases a constant drip of insulin, and leaving a gap of 4-5 hours between meals is the best way to stabilize blood sugar and allow the body to process waste. However, try not to leave much longer than 5 hours and carry a healthy snack such as an apple and some nuts with you to prevent you reaching for the coffee and chocolate.
Regular Day Fasts
Another way to incorporate fasting into your life is to allocate a day a week to fasting. If you can’t manage that, then make it one day per fortnight or even a day a month. Choose vegetable juices, smoothies, and soups to give your body a rest and a cleanse. Try to also make it a “me” day when you go out for lovely walks, get a massage, treat yourself to an Epsom Salts bath, watch a good movie.
Or even better, come back to Homefield for the Re-Boot package. Spending Fri – Mon with us enjoying our nutritious juices and soups and having some fabulous treatments is a great way to allow your body to cleanse, heal and restore, and to keep you on track.