Living Life in the Fasting Lane
Keto has had its time; now the limelight is on fasting. BWB breaks down the basics. Could fasting be for you?
Fasting has changed my life in a number of ways, just as it has for so many people. While the spiritual component of fasting dates back several centuries in many traditions and cultures, there are also many benefits that impact your mental, emotional, and physical health.
When we abstain from food and drink for a period of time (typically between 24 and 72 hours), we can experience everything from weight loss to more optimal brain function. This detoxifying measure sharpens our focus and brings us back to what is really important. The physical act of fasting helps us reach a place of stillness and clarity where we can acknowledge the magnificent functions of our body and mind.
Fasting increases our levels of human growth hormone (HGH), which can lead to fat loss and muscle gain, as well as improved insulin sensitivity. Fasting gives your body a much-needed reset, so it can repair cells, regulate genes, promote longevity, and protect against disease.
For people who are new to fasting, I highly recommend intermittent fasting, which involves fasting for up to 16 hours at a time. It’s not so much about what you eat, but when. When you do intermittent fasting, you either eat nothing or simply reduce your intake of food dramatically. The most popular protocol for intermittent fasting is the Leangains method, which restricts your window of eating time to 8 hours. After that, you fast for 16 hours. You can also fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, although the Leangains method is generally more sustainable and convenient for busy lifestyles. Intermittent fasting can lead to weight loss because your body takes in fewer calories, but also because your hormone levels change and release a fat-burning hormone called norepinephrine.
Complement intermittent fasting with soothing practices like meditation, outdoor activity, unplugging from gadgets.
Although I recommend not eating at all during fasting, it’s fine to drink water, tea, or other non-calorie beverages. Some people find that coffee is useful during fasting because it can reduce hunger, but others find that caffeine has a more agitating effect. It is always best to experiment to see what works for you! Complement intermittent fasting with soothing practices like meditation, outdoor activity, unplugging from gadgets. The detoxification period is most beneficial when it extends to other aspects of our lives that need more simplicity.
Of course, fasting isn’t just a quick fix; the practice merely assists a changing lifestyle of mindful eatingpatterns and habits. For example, the Longevity Diet offers practical guidelines for changing these patterns in a sustainable, long-term way. Typically, dieters engage in the plan for a month and undergo a food challenge every week. Rather than counting calories, they focus on healthy eating through slow and steady modifications. Each week, you add one new food item or category to your diet, and you take another one out of your diet. In Week 1, you double the vegetables while cutting out dairy; in Week 2, eliminate meat and eat more nuts; in Week 3, add fish to your diet and eliminate all white foods; in Week 4, enjoy tons of fruit and remove harmful chemical additives.
Make a detailed action plan for your dietary habits! This can truly amplify the benefits of fasting and help you get over the relentless yo-yo between binge patterns and periods of minimalistic eating.
A leading integrative fertility expert, Angela Le is founder of Fifth Avenue Fertility Wellness in New York City, and one of the first acupuncturists in the country to focus only on fertility. Since 2001, her practice has supported, treated and empowered thousands of patients. As a leader in the women’s health movement, Angela is committed to embracing infertility as an opportunity for transformation and a catalyst for deeper healing and awakening.