Bored, nothing to do, and a fridge stocked with food. A perfect combination for gaining weight.
It is simple, when we are bored we want something to entertain us, so we eat because it is so easy and very enjoyable. No wonder as a society we eat so much and so often! We are constantly bombarded with food advertisements, we see it everywhere we go. Most of us may say we think about food constantly! And this constant thought about what we are going to shove into our mouth next is killing us, our productivity, energy and focus.
We all need a break from eating. The work our bodies undertake to digest is intensive and exhausting. Our bodies LOVE the break they get when they don’t have to constantly digest. Fasting gives our bodies the necessary time it needs to recover from the immense strain of digesting.
To help us understand why fasting is good for us, think back to how humans used to operate in the early days of existence. They would hunt for food during the day, sometimes succeeding and sometimes not, and then they would feast on their harvest at night. This is how are bodies are meant to function. But because of the money involved, food businesses throw enticing advertisements at us all day everyday! And our bodies are taking an extraordinary hit because of it.
Previously I was eating well but at the same time eating way too much and way too often. I needed to cut back but didn’t have a legit plan I thought would work for me.
That is until I discovered the benefits of intermittent fasting.
I started intermittent fasting for a few reasons: to gain muscle, lose fat, and to not have food consume my thoughts and stomach so much.
Why fasting is good for us, the benefits and advantages:
Going without food for 16+ hours of the day has been tremendous for me. I was less consumed with the constant thought of food, which was draining me mentally, emotionally and physically. I was able to eat less and less often without feeling starved. And there is science behind why intermittent fasting works.
Fasting helps you not eat as much by normalizing the ghrelin levels or hunger hormone in the body. This hormone tells your body it wants food and these levels get back to normal when we only eat during an 8 hour period or less.
After 16 hours of going without food your body will release an exuberant amount of the Human Growth Hormone or HGH. Of all the benefits of fasting, I believe this is the most significant. HGH plays a vital role in our overall health. Natural production of HGH begins to decline in our twenties and eating too often restricts our bodies from producing this invaluable hormone.
What the Human Growth Hormone does to our bodies:
- Burns fat
- Helps in the anti-aging process
- Builds muscles
- Improves mood and mind
- Aids in hair and nail health
- Improves cardiovascular health
I love this infographic from Dr. Axe below. Here a list of what a lack of HGH may be doing to you…
Who should fast:
Adult men will benefit from it the most.
Intermittent fasting affects women differently than it does men. Some women find it helpful and others find it to be ineffective. Each persons body is different and women may have to experiment with it at first or perform their own unique way of doing it. Check out this great article which details why it doesn’t work for some and how other women use a specialized form of fasting for great health benefits.
Youth and children should avoid fasting as their bodies are still growing and need the constant nutrition.
How often should you fast:
For men, it is best to fast everyday or whenever you can. For women, see the paragraph above.
Timing of the fast:
Don’t worry about the times of fasting so much, do what works best for you. There are some who fast from 10pm-2pm, others from 8pm-12pm and others from 7pm-11am. Do what fits your schedule and lifestyle. Typically it is best to eat in the evening and fast in the morning.
What and when to eat after fasting:
If you are looking to gain muscle be sure to eat right before and after your workout. Eat fresh vegetables and unprocessed whole foods high in protein.
How to succeed at fasting:
It is critical to know how to properly fast intermittently in order to succeed at it. To put it simply, the healthier you eat the easier it will be to fast because the body will have plenty of actual nutrition to use as fuel. And understanding the timing and schedule that works best is crucial.
Eat when you are hungry. Most of us get the urge to eat when we see or smell something tantalizing. We should only eat when we get the urge from actual hunger.
We are hungry when our mind and bodies tell us, not our stomachs. Hunger is detected in the mind, when we feel we are starting to get weak or have very low energy it’s be our body telling us we are hungry. Our stomachs create a false sense of hunger and should not indicate to us that we are hungry.
It is best to stay busy so you don’t think about food. Keep food out of sight as much as possible.
Another tip is to drink lots of water, you don’t have to but it will help relieve false hunger you may feel. Water is perfectly fine to drink while fasting.
Combining fasting and working out:
High intensity interval workouts along with fasting dramatically increases HGH. Here is a video about how former NFL player Terry Crew uses lifting and fasting to gain muscle.