We hear about Intermittent Fasting a lot, lately, as a healthy way to eat, or “not eat.” But what does it mean and is it really beneficial?
Fasting has long been a health practice, and sometimes it is used as a spiritual practice. Our body was not designed to be consuming calories all day long and into the evening hours. We are supposed to consume the calories and nutrients we need, then have an opportunity to digest, utilize and burn off the macro and micro nutrients from our food. Remember that the process of metabolism creates oxidative stress and so consumption of adequate anti-oxidants is necessary to balance that process.
Let’s take these facts about our metabolism one step further and realize that we do not want to constantly “stoke the fire” of our metabolism for 16-18 hours. Giving our digestive process an opportunity to rest in between meals, and especially overnight, is essential. That is where intermittent fasting can be helpful.
Many studies are now showing that our brain health is improved if we do not eat or drink for 2-3 hours before going to bed. Then by getting 7-8 hours of good sleep in the night, and not rushing to eat right away in the morning, we are giving our body an opportunity to finish its digestion and take a break for healing and regeneration. So where do we start? If we finish dinner by 7PM, don’t eat or drink before bed, get 7-8 hours of sleep and delay our breakfast until 1-2 hours after waking, we have already gotten 10-12 hours of fasting, instead of just 7 or 8.
If we are so inclined to try to incorporate fasting into our routine, try not to eat for 2-3 hours before bed. That alone has been shown to have health benefits and may get us started on a healthier way to eat, or “not eat.”