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Intermittent Fasting and the Benefits Thereof!

I learned in my thirties as a competitive bodybuilder about restricting food intake to earlier hours in the day to facilitate a lean, muscular look. When preparing for a bodybuilding show, I never ate past 4:00pm and this is a habit that I have continued throughout my life simply because it is a good way to stay lean. 

By Jane Riley

There are many current research projects that underline the health benefits of intermittent fasting and timed eating. The benefits are not simply a good way to get and stay lean but actually confer many other important health benefits.

Although the idea of intermittent fasting might sound like a radical approach, it is much more easily accomplished than other types of remedial eating patterns. You typically will eat less in a day and you will eat within certain times of the day, which can reduce the stress of meal preparation and clean-up. You want to focus on eating healthy omega-three fats from fatty fish and nuts, and eliminate as much as possible the hard, saturated fats or trans-fats from prepared foods. You also want to consume organic veggies and fruit, and carbohydrates from whole food sources. Simple! Clean eating. 

Here are some of the proven benefits to intermittent fasting:

• It gives your body a break from the energy-dependent digestive process and provides it an opportunity to cleanse.

• Multiple studies indicate that this style of eating reduces the risk of breast cancer, lowers triglycerides and blood pressure and raises the good cholesterol levels (HDL).

• It improves the symptoms of autoimmune diseases such as lupus and multiple sclerosis.

• It helps improve the management of blood sugar issues because it is proven to lower insulin resistance and increase metabolism.

• The caloric restriction, and the fact that you are working with your body’s natural metabolic cycle rather than against it, encourages body fat loss. Leptin is a hormone largely responsible for fat storage or use of fat for energy. When the body is under chronic inflammation, it becomes leptin resistant which causes the body to continually store fat rather than use it for energy. Chronic inflammation dulls the brain’s leptin receptor sites. Intermittent fasting will, paradoxically, curb your cravings. You might think that restricting food intake to certain times might make you hungrier but the reverse has been shown to occur.

• Fasting is implicated in increasing cognitive function and has even shown positive impact with those affected by such disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

• It improves lung health and has shown positive ability to decrease asthma symptoms.

• It has shown positive results in helping heal the gut of inflammatory diseases such as IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Of course, you should always check with your health care provider to ensure that this style of eating is not counter-indicated by any pre-existing conditions that might prohibit your undertaking of the plan. This is especially true if you have a history of disordered eating.

To begin a lifestyle of intermittent fasting, the easiest way is to simply restrict your calorie intake to the hours between 8:00am and 6:00pm. You get 14 hours of fasting every day and will derive benefits from that. To up the ante, simply extend the window of fasting by a few hours. I personally try not to eat past 4:00pm as this keeps me healthy and helps me rest well and feel good. Although you are not consuming calories, it is necessary to stay hydrated. Drinking clear tea, herbal tea or water is important to help you flush out the toxins from your body.  

Still another way of fasting intermittently is to do a full day fast in which you consume nothing but water, tea or a nutritional cleanse product and limit your calorie intake to approximately 500 calories for women and 700 calories for men. Using water and tea or a cleanse product, plus a few healthy snacks throughout the day, helps you achieve a deeper cleanse than the timing of food intake on an everyday schedule, but both plans have excellent health benefits.   

The benefits are many. I encourage you to give your body a break and use intermittent fasting to improve your health. 

Jane Riley, Ed.D., M.S., B.A., is the Fitness and Wellness Director at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. She can be reached at jriley@cordilleraranch.com or 808.212.8119. 


Nutrition Noon

Join Jane Riley for monthly seminars highlighting ways to improve your fitness and wellness through healthy eating habits. Each seminar takes place at Noon in the Cabana Dining Room and includes a two-course lunch and beverage for $45.00.

(Plus taxes and 18% gratuity, reservations required with a 48-hour notice of cancellation.) Contact Kelsey Grudle at 830.336.9172 or kgrudle@cordilleraranch.com. 

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