On the surface, the idea of fasting for good health doesn’t make sense. “You are what you eat” comes to mind, along with a ton of other little sayings that have become the norm. “Eat many small meals throughout the day,” they say. “Eat a full and hearty breakfast,” they say. “Fat makes you fat,” they say.
Could “They” be wrong?……………..Absolutely!!!
Recent studies have shown that over 35% of Americans over the age of 20 are considered obese. The percentage of overweight people is magnitudes higher than that. What’s going on? Is it the food we eat? Is it a sedentary lifestyle? Is it the way we eat?
It’s actually a combination of all of the above. In the past 60 years our society has evolved into such a mad rush that it seems almost impossible to slow down and look after ourselves. You can’t be everywhere and do everything, it’s just not achievable. All we can do is try to take back a little control in our lives when it comes to our overall health. The changes that we make to the types of food that we eat, and how we eat them, will give us the most bang for our buck when it comes to overall health.
Changing the way we take in calories, and the more healthy foods we choose, will increase energy levels. With increased energy we are more likely to adopt some sort of an exercise program. This in turn will give us even more energy and good health. It’s a building process that takes time. It took us a few years to get out of shape and it only makes sense that it will take some time to get our health back. Baby steps and consistency are key.
Staying away from those overly processed foods with ingredients that we can’t even pronounce is the best way to start. If it comes in a box, it’s buyer beware. You might want to start reading exactly what you are putting into your body. Sugar, and more sugar is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to additives. It’s not easy to totally change our habits when it comes to eating but making little changes and sticking with them is a good place to start.
What does fasting have to do with good health? And……
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
There are many ways to fast. Intermittent fasting (IM) is all the rage for the past couple of years. Bodybuilders are using it to cut fat and build muscle and everyday folk are using it to detox and lose weight. Maybe watching what we eat along with skipping a few meals is the answer to the obesity epidemic. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Skipping meals is an obvious way to take in less calories. Of course, this system of fasting won’t do any good if you eat twice as much after skipping a meal.
Most people that are trying to lose weight look for a diet plan to follow. Thinking a little bit outside the box and incorporating a fasting system can speed up the process of weight loss and better overall health. The types of food that you eat for weight loss and good health are important but developing a dieting pattern may be of equal importance.
That is where fasting comes into play. IM fasting means that you eat your calories during a specific time of the day and you don’t have any meals for the rest of the day. There are many variations on exactly when to fast and when to eat. It’s the same as exercise programs. Experiment and see which system works best for your body and lifestyle. We are all unique.
Basically, what IM fasting does is to force your body to burn stored fat as energy. When there are no sources of energy, like carbohydrates from recently consumed meals, the body is forced to look elsewhere for something to burn. Training your body to use fat instead of carbs makes sense for those looking to lose weight.
Being a long distance runner, I am familiar with the concept of teaching the body to burn stored fat as energy. The long slow distance run is a must when training for marathons and longer distances. By running very long and slow once a week your body becomes accustomed to using the fat in your body when all the carbs have been used up. The body becomes efficient in using the fat and this builds stamina and strength. You develop the ability to run for longer periods of time without hitting a wall. Burning fat is a good thing. More and more people are adopting a low carb and higher fat diet with great weight loss and improved health being the result.
The science and the studies of fat consumption are starting to dispel a lot of the old school teachings about diet. It looks like they may have been wrong about a lot of things. We may just see a lot of those recommended food pyramids with carbs on the bottom level, come tumbling down. The foundation of future food pyramids may very well consist mostly of healthy fats and not the carbs we see on there today.
I have seen first hand the weight loss benefits of a high fat and low carb diet. I burned more weight by increasing healthy fats and lowering carb intake than by training and running endlessly for months. It just makes sense. Fasting for periods of time has also been easier while being on a high fat diet. Not being as hungry and not craving carbs makes it easier to incorporate fasting as one of the tools to use for better health.
Overall, the process of IM fasting can best be described as a way to teach the body to use the food that you consume more efficiently. When done properly, fasting is a great way to promote weight loss and muscle building. Like everything else that is worthwhile there is a learning curve and some commitment involved. Fasting is just another tool that can be used, in combination with healthier foods and lifestyle, to make you look and feel better.