Creating Healthy Habits: Fasting

I had such a fun time with the people who showed up for our Creating Healthy Habits talk for Restoration Health last night. I barely touched my notes as there were so many helpful questions that I felt like I had covered most of it before I started to read them. It's always great when a session is more interactive like that.

One of my favourite quotes was a lady who said 'I always used to think fasting was a duty, that you had to do for spiritual reasons but it was miserable. Now I'm excited about trying it again'. That, to me, is the heart behind Restoration Health. Positive choices shouldn't be about misery, they're about freedom.

If you wanted the full version, I'm afraid you had to attend(!) but the quick summary is here:
  • intermittent fasting shows almost identical health benefits to continuous fasting
  • intermittent fasting is actually superior to continuous fasting for managing metabolic disease markers such as high cholesterol, blood pressure, triglyceride levels, heart rate and more 
  • Fasting increase insulin sensitivity (and therefore reduces insulin resistance)
  • It takes around 8 hours from your last meal for your body to begin a fasting state
  • You can fast whilst you sleep, and yes, that counts
  • You don't enter 'starvation mode' until you have been fasting for more than 72-96 hours
This month we are challenging ourselves to attempt to build regular fasting into our lives. We're aiming for five days a week. You can download the habit tracker here. All you do is colour in the bar for every day that you go more than 10 hours between dinner and your next snack or meal. Practically speaking this means that if you finished dinner at 9pm and you had breakfast at seven, you only colour 10 hours. If you finished dinner at 6pm and had brunch at 11 am you get to colour in 17 hours. If you had a cup of hot chocolate at 10pm though, you are back to just 13 hours. 

Nobody else is going to see it, so don't cheat yourself. It's only a record for you. Start small and see what you can build up to. You might feel hungry initially in the morning, but usually that's actually dehydration. Have a glass of water and see if you are still hungry in an hour. If you are, break the fast. Try again tomorrow. No pressure, no stress. We're building healthy habits, and building takes time.

If you are interested in more research on this, here's my recommended reading list:

Canadian Medical Association Journal March 20, 2013
American College of Cardiology in New Orleans. 2011 annual scientific session
International Journal of Obesity 2011; 35:714-27
Washington Post December 31, 2012Free Radical Bio Med 2007; 42:665-74
Cell Metabolism December 2, 2014: 20(6); 9911005
British Journal of Nutrition 2013 Oct; 110(8): 153447
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences November 25, 2014: 111(47); 1664716653
British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease March/April 2013: 13(2): 6872


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