In this article:
- How does fasting work?
- How to retain your energy during a fast
- Natural supplements for an energized fast
Rather than a diet that restricts what you eat, intermittent fasting (IF) determines when you eat to burn through fat stores. In fact, many advocates of fasting consider it to be more of a lifestyle than a diet or nutrition plan. Fat burning and weight loss are not the only health benefits of fasting. Intermittent fasting can also benefit people with diabetes by reducing insulin resistance and controlling blood sugar, as well as protecting against obesity. It helps to manage inflammation and bloating, improve cognitive function, and may even promote longevity. It's also a great way to improve your heart health by lowering your cholesterol, decreasing blood pressure levels, and preventing diabetes. You’ll also hear top-performing entrepreneurs and biohackers talk about fasting as a way to optimize their energy, concentration, and ability to focus during the day. With that said, all of those lunch-deprived days seem to fly in the face of intermittent fasting. If food is our primary source of energy, how could purposefully going without it make us feel better and more alert? Here's how it works.
Intermittent fasting narrows your eating windows into a few hours, and limits caloric intake for the rest of the day. Common methods of intermittent fasting are the 16:8 (in which a 16-hour window of fasting is followed by an 8 hour eating window), alternate-day fasting, overnight fasting, and 5:2 fasting in which you can eat normally five days a week but restrict your calorie intake for two days of the week. As hunter-gatherers, our bodies are programmed for short-term fasts. During fasting periods, the body exhausts its blood glucose, then turns to the digestive system for food, and finally, starts burning body fat. By restricting our food intake, it forces our body to use fat as its source of energy.
Don't worry, fast days don't necessarily have to be 100% food-free. Your doctor can help to create a specific fasting plan for you, but in general, your caloric intake should be restricted to ~200-300. Snacking on veggies and low-calorie foods like yogurt, drinking coffee and tea, and taking supplements can help you to retain some of your sanity and satiate cravings. Additionally, your body adapts. Many people find fasting regimens difficult at the beginning until they get used to this new style of feeding their bodies. There is no one-size fits all solution to fasting.
During eating windows, you may be able to maximize your results by following the keto-diet and eating a healthy meal. This diet is characterized by low-carb foods that are high in healthy fats, as well as getting an adequate amount of protein. This helps to jump-start ketosis, a metabolic state that forces your body to burn fat for fuel rather than carbohydrates because your body is deprived of glucose.
So, how can you make sure that you're alert and energized throughout the fasting day without your daily caramel latte or mid-day snack? Here are some tips.
When you're cutting out calories, naturally your body is going to notice and feel depleted. Luckily, there are supplements that can leave you feeling fuller longer and provide much-needed energy without breaking the calorie bank.
Now before you jump into the intermittent fasting game, know your risks. Speak to your doctor first and ask if you should try intermittent fasting, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive. Fasting can also be dangerous for diabetics and is not recommended for people who have had an eating disorder. Fasting doesn't have to drain you! In fact, fasting today might even bring you better sleep and even more energy for the next day!