Originally posted on Medium, Sep 13, 2019.
By now you’ve probably heard of Intermittent Fasting.
You’ve probably done it yourself, or at least heard whispers of some new trendy diet where you don’t eat a couple of days a week.
But, have you really looked at the science? A little research will show you that the health benefits go way beyond the typical goal of losing weight.
Maybe not, but that’s why I’m here! Let’s first look at what intermittent fasting is.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting is an umbrella term for ways of eating that restrict calories by fasting during a certain window of time. It can mean eating one day and not the next. Or eating for 5 days a week and fasting for 2. Or it can be done daily, eating for 8 hours and fasting for 16.
This last option is called Time Restricted Feeding and it’s what I have been doing for the last few months.
Another term I’d like to mention is Circadian Rhythm. This is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. Circadian comes from the Latin circa, meaning “around”, and diēm, meaning “day”.
By combining fasting AND circadian rhythm we can get some pretty amazing health results!
Some of the science behind this combo is best described by one of the top scientists researching this area: Satchin Panda. Here is a TED talk he did explaining some of his teams findings. He also has a great book that I love called The Circadian Code. Below I have a summary of some of the IF findings. I highly encourage you to check out the book or at least watch the full 16 minute talk.
In one of the studies they gave 2 groups of mice the exact same diet for 18 weeks. Exact amount of calories and macronutrients. The only difference was that 1 group ate their food throughout the entire day and night while the other group only ate in an 8–12 hour window (time restricted eating) during the day. At the end of the study the time restricted eating mice were totally healthy. However the group that ate at all hours was more obese and had a list of other diseases.
The most amazing part was that if they then took the obese and disease ridden group and started feeding them in the same 8–12 hour window the mice got healthy again! They found that WHEN we eat is just as important as what and how much we eat.
They’ve since done a human trial to measure when people eat. They found that most people eat around the clock like the unhealthy mice. This pattern also leads to a host of different diseases in humans like the mice. They then took a group of those around the clock eaters and asked them to restrict their eating to a 10 hour window of their choosing. Within 3–4 months this group lost weight, felt better, had more energy, higher mental acuity and slept better at night. Over longer periods they even suffered less from diseases.
I am now 2.5 months into my own time restricted eating routine of aiming for an 14–16 hour fasting window each day. I use an app called Zero Fasting that makes it super easy to track when I start and end my fast each day. I’ve already noticed my energy is better throughout the day. I sleep deeper at night, and my digestive system is on point! (which is a nice way of saying I poop better)
Digging further into intermittent fasting you will find there are huge benefits for cardiovascular diseases, auto-immune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer treatment.
As you can see, IF is not just a fad and it’s not just another way to lose weight. I highly encourage you to consider intermitting fasting for yourself if you’d like to improve your health. You’ll appreciate the benefits!