Did you know that more than 61% of us prefer to skip breakfast? Without knowing, we’re tapping into the growing trend of intermittent fasting – when you limit food intake for set periods.
“Popular reasons to fast include weight management, improved focus and increased longevity,” says Nutritionist Roxane Bakker. Yet it’s not always easy. It helps to remember that ‘”fasting isn’t a diet but a lifestyle,” adds Roxane. Find what works for you, and you could gain life-enhancing benefits!
Here are five changes to expect when you start fasting:
1. Your body shape may change
“While it depends on duration, type of fasting and overall energy expenditure, fasting promotes fat loss, as the body starts using stored fat for energy when it’s not receiving food,” says Nutritionist Christina Mamada. The trick is not to overeat during non-fasting periods, while ensuring all your nutritional requirements are met.
2. You may think more clearly
“Fasting can help to regulate blood sugar levels, which prevents fluctuations that can lead to brain fog,” says Nutritionist Sophie Trotman. During longer fasts (12+ hours), you may also feel more focused than usual because your body starts to use ketones for energy when its glycogen stores (a form of glucose) are used up.
“Ketones are an efficient fuel for the brain, potentially enhancing its function”, says Sophie.
3. Energy levels could dip
What if you want to exercise? You may feel as if you’re running on empty. “Opt for lower-intensity activities that don’t require as much glucose for fuel, such as walking, yoga or gentle cycling,” says Sophie. You should also ensure you’re drinking enough water, as dehydration can exacerbate tiredness.
4. Tempted to binge
This could undo much of your hard work, but there are ways to outwit the intense cravings you may feel after a prolonged period without food. Firstly, plan your non-fasting meals in advance so you can eat something filling, tasty and nutritious immediately. Then, ensure you’re not lacking sleep, as this can increase hunger and cravings, says Sophie.
5. The risk of chronic disease may decrease
“In some people, fasting can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation, and help with cellular repair and blood pressure regulation,” says Sophie. In part, this is down to a process called autophagy, which is stimulated during fasting. “This is when the body starts to clean up damaged and broken cells, and improve overall cell function,” says Roxane. A topic of scientific debate, some may reach autophagy just 14 hours into a fast.”
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