Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Many people have heard of fasting and specifically Intermittent fasting (IF), though few understand how it works, the benefits it provides, or the knowledge of how to get started.
The most common concern I hear about IF is that it is too intimidating or difficult to ‘miss’ or ‘skip’ a meal and not eat for more than 12 hours –
“How will I have enough energy?” “How will I deal with the hunger pains?” “Isn't it unhealthy to skip a meal?”
In this blog post, I will break down the myths of IF from the perspective of a nutritionist and health coach, and share with you the science-backed facts about Intermittent Fasting and tips on how you can get started; because IF is such a powerful tool and to give up before ever starting IF would be too much of a missed opportunity to better how we look and feel, as well as improve our overall health and quality of life.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. The best part of IF is it can be very straightforward and simple to adopt. The most common and adopted method of IF is to fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window per day. For most people this usually occurs by not consuming breakfast in the morning and having the first meal from 11am to 1pm and eating dinner from 7pm to 9pm, and then fast for 16 hours until the next meal in the next day. This fits well into the average person's work/life balance.
What are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
Less Taxing on Your Body
Eating and fasting in specific daily windows like this gives our bodies that much needed break from digestion; this is vital because out of the thousands of processes our body undertakes per day, digestion is the most taxing and when our large intestine isn’t working hard to digest food, our bodies rejuvenate and replenish at a rate equivalent to when we are sleeping.
Regulating Hunger Hormones
When we eat within a restricted window it is not only easier to eat less than compared with eating throughout the entire day; it also has many hormonal benefits such as regulation of our hunger hormone (ghrelin) and our satiety hormone (leptin) which conversely signal to our body when we are truly hungry and when we have had enough food respectively, which is important when it comes to not overeating from a physiological standpoint.
Improvement in Energy Level and Metabolic Flexibility
This results in improved and consistent energy levels due to a more stable blood sugar level and tuning the body regularly per day to function without constant carbohydrates. This allows our body to build higher efficiency in our metabolic flexibility (the ability to function normally without glucose in the bloodstream) – which in turn reduces overall body inflammation and reduces the chances of developing many illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, stroke, arthritis and asthma to name a few.
Enhancement of Mental Clarity and Concentration
Over time the consistent break from our digestion will result in an enhanced ability to focus and concentrate on tasks throughout the day due to an efficient release of toxins from the bloodstream, allowing a cleaner flow of blood to the brain; this will improve mental clarity and concentration.
Beginners’ Guide to IF
When it comes to IF the best part is – it can be very straightforward and simple to implement. Choose your fasting and eating schedule; you can start with the most common and adopted method of IF which is to fast for 16 hours and eat within an 8-hour window. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
On the days leading up to beginning IF, try eating within a shorter window by an hour or two for a few days and then shorten the eating window by more until the ideal eating & fasting window is achieved.
Another strategy is to eat normally throughout most of the week and incorporate your intended fasting hours in full for 1 or 2 days per week, before increasing to say 3 or 4 days per week the week after.
Finding a friend or partner to begin your fasting journey with or planning this with your health coach can increase your accountability, support and motivation until this new healthy habit is formed.
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As long as the fasting is not restricted in caloric intake (maintained at similar level as pre-IF) and is being done consistently over time, concerns about being hungry and not having energy will fade away as the benefits strongly become evident and applicable to your daily life.
Josh is the lead health coach of SSFitLyfe, an online health and nutrition coaching platform. He is originally from Australia and has over a decade of experience working as a certified nutritionist, personal & rehab trainer, and life coach in different parts of the world. His passion is to empower people to live their best life and reach their healthiest potential in both body and mind through a truly holistic and science-backed approach to healthy living.
Credentials Highlights: Bachelor Degree in Food Science (Nutrition) and Behavioural Science (Psychology) at Queensland University of Technology; Australian Institute of Fitness Certified Personal Training and Fitness Coach
間歇性斷食 - 健康生活的進食模式
許多人可能有聽說過斷食，尤其是間歇性斷食 (Intermittent Fasting - IF)，卻只有小數人真正了解IF的原理，IF提供的好處，以及怎樣正確地實行間歇性斷食。
間歇性斷食 (IF) 是一種在禁食和進食之間循環的飲食模式。 IF 作為飲食模式的優點在於IF非常簡單且容易執行。最常見及被採用的 IF 方法為每天禁食 16 小時，於 8 小時內進食。對於大多數人來說，這通常為早上不吃早餐，從上午 11 時到下午 1 時吃第一頓飯，晚上 7 時到 9 時吃晚餐，然後連續16小時禁食。這禁食及進食時段，對於大部分人來說，頗為容易配合工作及生活平衡。
減少對身體的負擔 – 這樣持續地每天於特定的時段內進食和特定的時段內禁食，可讓我們的消化系統獲取更充分的休息時間。因為我們身體每天數千個身體機能過程中，消化為最費力的；當我們的腸胃於禁食時段不需要吃力地消化食物時，我們的身體會如同我們睡眠時般迅速地恢復活力和補充能量。
調節飢餓荷爾蒙 – 當我們於受限的時段內進食，與整天不受時限進食相比，不僅更容易少吃，還可幫助調節荷爾蒙，包括飢餓素(ghrelin)及瘦體素 (leptin), 讓它們於更適當的時候向我們的身體發出飢餓或食物充足信號。從生理的角度來說，可幫助防止暴飲暴食。
改善能量水平及代謝靈活性 – 於更穩定的血糖水平底下，及每天定期調整身體在沒有持續碳水化合物的情況下運作，身體的能量水平可獲得持續性的改善。這使我們的身體在代謝靈活性（血液中沒有葡萄糖的情況下正常運作的能力）方面提高效率，減少炎症及減少患上許多疾病的機會，如2型糖尿病、癌症、中風、關節炎和哮喘等。
提高頭腦清晰度和注意力 – 持續地消化系統每天固定於斷食時獲取充分的休息，令血液排毒功能更有效，讓更健康的血液順暢流動至腦部，提高頭腦的清晰度和注意力。
在正式開始 IF 前幾天，嘗試比往常縮短進食時段一、兩小時，持續幾天後，再加倍縮短進食時段，直至達到理想的IF禁食及進食時間表。
另一種策略是在一周的大部分時候正常進食，並於每週 1 或 2 天內將你理想的IF禁食及進食時間表，然後在下一周增加至每週 3 或 4 天。
Josh是健康及營養指導平台 SSFitLyfe 的首席健康教練。他來自澳大利亞，在世界各地擁有超過十年作為認證營養師、私人及康復教練，以及生活教練的豐富經驗。他熱衷於以全面及科學化的方式，協助更多人發揮身體的潛能，活出全方位的健康生活。