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Fasting- Is it for you?

Posted by Melissa Finlay on July 16, 2023

The most recent research findings on effective weight loss strategies shows that the old calories in - calories out = weight loss just does not work.. and yet some doctors and weight loss specialists are continuing to recommend this to their patients as an effective form of weight loss treatment. Eat less calories than you burn in a day and you will end up with what is called a "caloric deficit" and subsequently lose weight.

For some people this can be true at first. But studies show now that when we reduce our calorie intake to burn more than we put in, our bodies begin to alter our metabolic rate- that is the rate that we burn calories for energy. So we reduce our portion sizes and eat less food to try to lose the weight, but our bodies catch up by simply requiring less calories to burn! This gets us nowhere in terms of weight loss.

Trying to take in less calories ultimately leads to lethargy and increase in the hormones that control our hunger signalling, making us feel hungrier and hungrier. We simply just cannot sustain this kind of eating!

The recent research is showing that there is a much more effective way to tap into our fat stores and burn them for energy- leading to weight loss as well as disease control, and that is therapeutic fasting. Or intermittent fasting as it called more often.

Intermittent fasting involves not eating for a prescribed period of time. By doing this we now know that the zero calorie intake begins to decrease the levels of insulin in our body and allows our body to start using its fat stores as the primary energy source instead of using the energy we convert from the foods we eat, like carbohydrate.

The other amazing findings from research into intermittent fasting is that as you continue to fast, our metabolic rate is maintained so we are burning energy from the fat stores we have switched on more efficiently than if we were trying to lose weight from caloric deficit. It also reduces the excretion of hunger signalling hormones (ghrelin) so that we aren't craving or hungry for any particular food. That urge is effective switched off.

There are many ways that you can introduce intermittent fasting into your lifestyle. One of the most popular way is the 16:8 approach. Where you fast for 16 hours in a 24 hour period. This would mostly take place whilst you sleep, and then delay your first meal until around 11am the next day. This approach can be easily incorporated into your routine without too much trouble and you will see the positive effects very quickly.

However prolonged periods of fasting isn't for everyone. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have thyroid issues or you're dealing with cortisol imbalances and burnout, fasting could make things worse. Some times people who are otherwise completely healthy find that fasting makes them feel unwell, and if that's the case, listen to your body,

You could try just simply stopping eating after dinner and not snacking in the evenings, then eating breakfast an hour after waking. This would give your body a break from food for about 12 hours or so, studies are showing that even this window of time is beneficial to our health.

Are you thinking of trying fasting?  If you do, let me know how you go! Place a comment below or shoot me an email I'd love to hear from you.

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I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that I work, live and raise my children on. This land belongs to the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations, and I pay my respects the Wurundjeri elders, past, present and emerging.