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Intermittent Fasting

The popular 5 and 2 diet has been around for ages. This can have weight loss benefits cutting your calories down for the week; however, in my opinion fasting daily, for either 12:12, 14:10 or 16:8, has greater benefits and is easier to sustain. It is important to ensure that your first meal of the day is high in fibre, protein, and micro-nutrients with no refined carbohydrates and only a small portion of complex carbohydrates.

This isn’t necessarily about cutting calories but more about the significant benefits to your overall health. However, generally you will consume less calories due to the window of eating being reduced, and the increase in the amount of muscle mass within the body, due to the increased secretion of the human growth hormone (HGH), which depletes as we age.

Fasting allows the liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands to rest. This will also help to control blood sugar levels by insulin sensitivity increasing and insulin levels decreasing. This also allows cells to regenerate rather than replicate reducing the risk of chronic diseases and will significantly reduce inflammation within the body. The pressure is taken off your pancreas to produce insulin, reducing the risk of developing a resistance to insulin, therefore, helping to prevent type 2 pre-diabetes and diabetes. Relieving the strain on the adrenal glands will reduce the production of cortisol and adrenaline, again reducing inflammation and aiding the cell’s ability to utilise the energy produced within the mitochondria. It takes approximately 90-180 minutes to fully digest your food so if you are a grazer this puts extra strain on the digestive system. Think about having 3 meals each day with sufficient calories, to ensure we give adequate time for our digestive system to rest.

We naturally fast for approximately 8 hours a day, whilst we sleep but the research shows that fasting for longer can provide numerous benefits to your health and well-being.

The Benefits of Fasting:

· Cardio-metabolic risk factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin-resistance.

· Your immune system and inflammatory responses due to the reduction of cortisol and free radicals being released from the mitochondria.

· Chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, by reducing levels of the C - reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation.

· Improve blood sugar control, lowering the insulin production, especially for those at risk of diabetes or overweight around the abdominal area.

· Improve focus, mental clarity, and brain function and prevent neurodegenerative disorders, by reducing inflammation.

· Increase the secretion of growth hormone (HGH), improving development of muscle, sustaining muscle, and improve metabolism.

· Increase weight loss and boost metabolism by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which can enhance weight loss.

· Improve body composition, more lean muscle, and less fat.

· Increased energy levels due to the reduction of cortisol which in turn allows the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) to function more effectively.

· Easy to follow as it doesn’t involve counting calories and because you do this daily your body and mind will adapt to the change easier.

How to fast?

I advise fasting overnight with your last meal no later than 8pm. Fasting the evening and through the night and morning. If your last meal is at 8pm then your first meal will be at lunch time around 12pm, dependant on fasting window.

If you last meal is earlier, the first meal will be earlier the following day. Listen to your body if you are starving eat, otherwise you will eat into muscle mass, always fast for a minimum of 12 hours. Each day doesn’t have to be the same. One day you might fast for 16 hours and the next 12.

Make sure your first meal is high in lean protein, fibre, and a small amount of complex carbohydrates, to ensure the first meal of the day doesn’t spike your blood sugar and therefore trigger the insulin response and rollercoaster beginning. This will then set you up for the rest of the day and your sugar craving will decline.

Many of the symptoms related to peri-menopause and menopause can be improved through intermittent fasting, such as losing the stubborn abdominal fat and improve energy levels, and brain fog, however there is no research to show that it will increase the production of hormones so you may still experience some of the symptoms.


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