Intermittent fasting is currently one of the worlds’ most popular health and fitness trends. Should you try it? Ask yourself this. Have you mastered the basics?
When you fast, several things happen in your body on the cellular and molecular level. For example, your body adjusts hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Your cells also initiate important repair processes and change the expression of genes. Here are some changes that occur in your body when you fast:
Human Growth Hormone (HGH): The levels of growth hormone skyrocket, increasing as much as 5-fold. This has benefits for fat loss and muscle gain, to name a few.
Insulin: Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible.
Cellular repair: When fasted, your cells initiate cellular repair processes. This includes autophagy, where cells digest and remove old and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells.
Gene expression: There are changes in the function of genes related to longevity and protection against disease.
These changes in hormone levels, cell function and gene expression are responsible for the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Yes, there can be benefits to fasting. But ask yourself these few questions before you try anything.
Have I mastered the basics of healthy eating? Do you have solid eating habits already? Have you eliminated processed foods from your diet and most simple sugar? Do you eat well most of the time? If you know you are eating well and you have solid habits, then maybe you are ready to try something like this.
If you eat out multiple times a week, still eat packaged and processed foods often or if you only eat one or two meals a day then I would suggest building basic healthy habits before you try something to the extent of fasting.
When do you workout? If you are fasting overnight until lunchtime the next day, then the ideal time to workout would be after your lunch has some time to digest. If you workout in the afternoon or evening that would work best.
If you workout first thing in the morning and you are fasting until lunch, then your morning workout will most likely suffer. You will not have energy needed to get you through an intense morning workout as you will need to fuel before and after your workout to get the most benefits. If you are doing low intensity exercise such as a walk that should be fine.
I myself have not tried fasting as I love to eat too much. I know with my morning workout routine I would not have the energy needed if I did not fuel prior to my morning workout and my body and muscles would breakdown overtime if I was not able to fuel after my workouts.
Whenever thinking about doing anything like this ask yourself a few questions first.
Have I mastered the basics of healthy eating?
Is this something that I can do consistently and fit into my lifestyle? Is it maintainable in your long term health and fitness plan?
Is this going to get me closer to my health and fitness goals?
If you can answer yes, then maybe it will work for you. If you have said NO, then stick to the fundamentals.