To Fast or Not to Fast

Time-restricted eating

What is it?

It is an eating plan that focuses on when you eat, not what you eat. It is a pattern of eating where you eat all of your calories (meals and snacks) within a specific window of time each day. The period when you consume your calories is usually called the eating period. Eating periods can be from 4 to 12 hours. Outside of the eating period, you don’t eat any calories. This is the fasting period and ranges from 12 to 20 hours. In this period, you can drink water, black tea and black coffee with no sugar.

How to do it

Choose an eating period that is works for you. You can start off slowly and add an hour each time you are ready.

For the 16/8 type of time-restricted eating, you fast for 16 hours and eat for 8 hours. You can eat dinner at 7pm and then start eating again at 11am the next day. Skipping dinner may be beneficial as your body can process food in the morning better than in the evening when it is shutting down for the day.

Focus on nutritious, balanced meals with protein-rich foods with each meal. These will make you feel full longer. Ensure you’re drinking enough fluids during your fasting period.

Tailor this eating plan around your timetable, without being obsessive – if you break the fast every now and again, it won’t make too much of a difference.

What are the benefits?

1. Weight loss and management

Fasting increases the body’s potential for fat burning and it gives the body less time to take in calories. When you’re eating, your body releases insulin to convert the food to glucose for energy. Fasting lowers insulin in the body. Prolonged periods of low insulin forces the body to burn stored glucose for energy, and when that’s been depleted, it turns to fat. This way of eating also helps normalise ghrelin levels. Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone”, it stimulates appetite, increases food intake and promotes fat storage.

2. Increases human growth hormone (HGH) production

HGH helps lower body fat, promotes lean body mass, increases bone mass and muscle strength. This can help athletes.

3. Lowers inflammation

A inflammation in the body is responsible for developing several chronic conditions.

4. Can help athletes

Exercising during fasting can help counteract muscle aging and wasting, and boost fat-burning.

5. Slows aging

Whilst fasting, your cells have time to detox and recycle, slowing down your body’s ageing process and could help prevent age-related diseases.

6. It gives your digestive system a break

During fasting, your body has the opportunity to undertake some much needed house-keeping. This is the time when your gut is cleanses of excess debris.

7. It complements the circadian rhythm

Digestion runs on a daily rhythm just like our body clocks. Our bodies are optimised to process food during daylight hours. It is better to eat most of your calories in the morning as your body is much better equipped to handle sugar and fat in the morning rather then the evening when it is getting ready top shut down.

8. Good for dental health

Finishing meal early can reduce acid erosion and dental products have more time to take effect.

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BANT Registered Nutritionist,  

Registered Nutritional Therapist CNHC & Health Coaches Academy Certified Health Coach

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© 2016 by Michelle Boehm