While most people that you mention your intermittent fasting schedule to will either call you crazy or say that “they could never do that,” the practice is relatively easy and has lifelong benefits. Why would anyone want to deprive themselves of food for hours or days at a time? Widely debated studies have existed on the medical implications of controlled fasting for some time. However, there are a number of great benefits to intermittent fasting.
1. You’ll have better cognitive abilities
Despite what Snickers would have you believe in their “Why wait?” campaign, being hungry during the day can help you think more clearly and keep your mind sharp.
2. You’ll get more of your day back
Think about it: if you start your fast at 12:00 am when you go to sleep and don’t eat again until 4:00 pm, that’s 2-3 meals you aren’t having to prepare and cook or go and pick up. When you stop thinking about food, you’ll realize how much of your time you actually spend worrying about where the next meal will come from, your grocery list, and who you’re going to lunch with.
3. It’s closer to how our cavemen ancestors ate.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors hunted and foraged for food all day and then prepared it and ate after sunset. Have you ever seen an overweight caveman?
4. You’ll have a longer life
Simply put: your lifespan is directly related to what you eat, or in this case, what you don’t. While still being studied, some early clinicals suggest you’ll live longer.
5. It helps prevent disease
Two of the biggest killers today in America are directly food-related: heart disease and diabetes. With a scheduled eating regimen, you’ll be significantly reducing your risk factors for both.
6. You’ll have more energy
Assuming you are still getting your recommended caloric intake for the day, your body will expend less energy digesting and leave you with more energy to get all the things done in your day.
7. You’ll lose weight
With intermittent fasting, you are basically telling your body to stop burning sugars that you intake during the day and directing it towards burning fat.
The program itself is fairly straightforward and simple: you have a fasting window in which you don’t eat and an eating window in which you can eat what you want. There are many variations of this, so you’ll want to find your own rhythm, but probably the easiest is to stop eating an hour or so before you go to bed and start a 16-hour clock for your fasting window. This schedule is nice because you’ll spend a large portion of your fast sleeping. Let’s say you go to bed at 12:00 am. In that case, you will fast until 5:00 pm and then eat until 11:00 pm. Pretty easy.
Tips to help you stick to your plan:
1. Stay hydrated
Not only is water excellent for every faucet of health, it also helps you maintain a feeling of being full, which will stave off cravings.
2. Exercise right before you eat
This way, you’ll be able to resupply all those hungry muscles right after you finish your workout.
3. Set goals for yourself and measure your progress
If you don’t know where you’re going and consider your progress every now and again, how will you recognize the benefits?
4. Pack some emergency snacks the first few days
While there is evidence eluding to the fact that intermittent fasting can help regulate your insulin levels, the first few days may be a little tough — it’s okay to grab a granola bar or piece of fruit if you start feeling faint.
5. Stick to your plan
It takes a few weeks to break or change a cycle, and the first few days will be toughest. New fasters typically describe day 3 as “the wall,” in which you may be driven to drop your guard — stick with it. You’ll soon be reaping the benefits and be glad that you made such a positive lifestyle decision.
6. Stay busy
If you’re active and engaged in work or play, you’ll seldom have time to ponder on your hunger status.
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