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By Shane Young | December 21, 2017 |
The concept of intermittent fasting has been around for thousands of years, and has been practiced by many different cultures. Some cultures have used fasting as a spiritual or religious technique, while others have recognized the numerous health benefits that can be gained from extended periods without eating.
So what is intermittent fasting, and how can it improve your overall health and quality of life?
Intermittent fasting is a general term used to describe different approaches to timing when you eat. It can apply to the 24 hour period of each day or, alternatively within a week.
The emphasis is on the fasting aspect, which as the name implies, involves a period of time greater than that of just sleeping, when you abstain from eating. There are numerous different approaches to intermittent fasting. Today, I would like to take a look at 3 of the more popular styles:
Some of these benefits include:
Altering the function of cells, genes and hormones –
Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation –
By helping reduce free-radicals and inflammation within the body, intermittent fasting may help slow the aging process and help protect against numerous diseases, including cancers.
Supports a healthy cardiovascular system –
Intermittent fasting can help regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation within the body, all of which help promote a healthy heart.
Lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes –
Intermittent fasting has been shown to lower insulin resistance as well as dramatically decrease blood sugar levels, both of which can attribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.
I think it is important to point out here that there are a few risks that should be taken into consideration as well.
Intermittent fasting is only recommended for people who are already in good health. Let me repeat that! Already in good, if not great health! If you do not have a firm foundation from which to work from, then disrupting your body’s energy supply can actually have a detrimental impact on your health. The same can be said for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, because during these times their bodies need a constant supply of nutrients.
The bottom line? Intermittent fasting is most appropriate for people who are in good health, are not pregnant or breastfeeding, and who balance the fasting by eating a healthy, nutrient rich diet.
If you are opting for the 5:2 fasting program, then it is unadvisable that you plan a high activity day on fasting days. You probably don’t want to go on a 20k run on a day you have not been fueling your body with energy.
The bottom line? You need to fuel your body for excessive exercise, because you need both the energy to power yourself, and the materials to build and repair any muscle damage. So be mindful when rostering your weekly workout schedule.
Dehydration can be a risk, because a lot of the fluid we consume comes from the food we eat. So make sure you stay hydrated with water during the times you are fasting.
Prolonged periods of not eating can cause an increase in stomach acids which can cause heartburn. So if you are a person who experiences heartburn, then you may find that fasting creates an issue for you.
So at the end of the day, when practiced appropriately and with awareness, intermittent fasting can assist you in your fitness goals and enhance your quality of life!
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