Intermittent fasting is certainly ‘on trend’ these days. And for good reason.
The world’s “oldest new diet” is proving to be a super hit in the wellness community and beyond due to its ability to fight inflammation, improve digestion and boost your longevity.
If you’re not overly familiar with it–intermittent fasting involves going for long periods of time without eating, or from the other perspective limiting the window of time in which you’re allowed to eat.
I’ve been practicing intermittent fasting for over a year now and to say it’s had a positive impact on my life would be a vast understatement.
I fast each day – don’t eat until midday and have dinner by 7 p.m. (sometimes earlier). This gives me a good 17-hour window of fasting, allowing my body to rest, recharge and focus on other things.
The benefits are both physical and mental. I’ve never had more energy or vitality and approach life (not just eating) in a different way entirely.
Here are the five biggest benefits I’ve experienced since beginning intermittent fasting.
My productivity increased
Intermittent fasting isn’t just for weight loss, it has also been proven to boost productivity. In a fastened state, focus, energy and the motivation to get things done all increase. Rather than using energy to digest food, your body is now accessing body fat and creating energy from that (rather than from food and glucose).
The research backs it up. Intermittent fasting is a cognitive enhancer, improving memory and learning abilities.
My mornings are now significantly more productive than they once were. I love hitting the laptop in the a.m. with a strong (black) coffee and a killer playlist. it’s really when I get my best work done.
My hunger levels decreased
No really, they did! After a while, your body gets used to the fact that you’re not eating as much so when you do eat, your portion sizes are smaller and you’re more conscious of what you’re putting into your temple.
And did I mention goodbye cravings?! No longer do I reach for the cookie jar when I’m feeling peckish or have a hankering for a super greasy cheeseburger.
Lastly, I’ve become more diligent in getting in an adequate amount of water in each day. Most of the time we feel hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Knowing this, I always drink a tall glass of H2O to calm those hunger pangs. And you know what – it works!
My skin and gut improved
Wait – that’s two things. Intermittent fasting resets your gut and digestive tracts, supercharging your body’s ability to repair itself. It releases Motilin and Ghrelin both of which regulate the digestive tract. It also activates an anti-inflammatory response in your gut – protecting that precious gut microbiome.
But it’s no surprise as intermittent fasting has a positive change in the overall composition of gut microbiota and there’s a big gut-skin connection. Ergo: good gut health = good skin. I used to suffer from hormonal blemishes especially around my jawline. It’s like the same pimple would rear its ugly head in the same spot, every damn time. For the last six months, my skin has become considerably clearer and while I still suffer from a spot here and there, they’re hardly noticeable.
So here’s the other connection – gut-brain. Fasting increases our ketones, which are compounds that are neuroprotective, which basically means they guard brain cells. So in a way, when we slow down our brain activity, we protect it by allowing it to recharge, too.
Once your body adjusts (and it will adjust) you learn how to deal with the discomfort of hunger. It then has a lovely flow-on effect on dealing with other issues in your life. Meditation becomes a powerful tool in helping you adjust and disassociate from the feelings of hunger too as it teaches you to treat all sensations and urges as one in the same and all impermanent.
My willpower increased
I’m not going to lie, in those first few weeks, fasting was tough. I’d been a breakfast eater my entire life and solemnly believed that it was the most important meal of the day. Now, after experiencing the surge of energy I have in the mornings, I couldn’t go back.
Our willpower decreases with each decision we make – what to wear, what to have for breakfast, which email to respond to first, what kind of mid-morning healthy(ish) snack to have, what to have for lunch. With intermittent fasting, you’ve just eliminated three decisions and it’s only lunchtime! Willpower levels remain high and now even the scent of a donut doesn’t faze me in the morning.
This has spilt into other areas of my life that require willpower: exercise, eating well, less screen time etc. Basically, I’m a better, more in control, kick-ass version of myself thanks to intermittent fasting.
So, if you have been considering intermittent fasting – I highly recommend. Start slowly and take your time in working up the hours you fast for. You’ll notice the benefits after a few weeks, and when you do, enjoy them. And at the end of the day, intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone so if it doesn’t work for your body, that’s ok too.