Food and lifestyle coach Marjolein Dubbers is the author of the bestselling books ‘ Het Energieke Vrouwen Voedingskompas ‘ and ‘ Eat more energy ‘. She has inspired more than tens of thousands of women to change their diet. Marjolein Dubbers writes articles for Inspiring Life and tackles a problem every time. Today: Intermittent fasting; healthier and easier than you might think.
While writing my second book Eat More Energy , I discovered the power of intermittent fasting. Firstly because I read all kinds of scientific studies about it, but mainly because I started to apply it more in practice. To be honest I don’t really like fasting much but it turned out to be much easier than I thought and I feel really good about it. So let me tell you more about it today.
Intermittent fasting; occasionally skipping one or more meals
More and more people are discovering the power of intermittent fasting. By regularly not eating for a period of time, they notice that they not only get more energy, but also that it is easier to lose weight. There is also more and more scientific research that indicates that grazing every day is fine for cows, but a lot less for humans.
Intermittent fasting can be done in several ways:
- Occasional 24 hour fasting during which you only drink (water, herbal tea) but do not eat.
- Eat 1 meal a day and drink only the rest. Usually this is a lunch or evening meal.
- Only eat within a certain period of time: for example, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. This means 12 hours of eating, 12 hours of fasting. This can be extended to 10 hours of food and 14 hours of fasting or 8 hours of food and 16 hours of fasting.
A combination or alternation of the above methods is also possible. I’ll tell you later what I think is the easiest method.
Processing food is quite hard work for your body
Everything you eat is in fact foreign to the body. Your digestive system immediately gets to work to get it all digested, processed and removed what is not useful. Everything in your body changes the moment food enters. This represents quite an effort. It is therefore good to give your body a rest every now and then.
Intermittent fasting: the benefits of not eating for 14 hours
Intermittent fasting has been scientifically researched for decades. These studies show again and again that there are many health benefits of not eating for a certain period of time (14 hours or more). The good news is that in the end they all come down to giving you more energy! That’s why I’m such a fan of it. Here are a few of the most important benefits:
1. Body Cell Recovery
As mentioned, digestion costs your body quite a lot of energy. If you fast for a while, your body has more energy for the repair of body cells. Fasting initiates a process whereby damaged cells can repair themselves and the necessary waste material can be removed from the cells. There is now a lot of research that shows this.
2. Reducing Inflammation
Inflammation is the root of lack of energy and many chronic diseases. They weaken your mitochondria: your rechargeable power plants that you would like to keep as a friend. Intermittent fasting helps to reduce chronic inflammation and thus strengthen your mitochondria.
3. Restoring Insulin Sensitivity
A fluctuating blood glucose level makes you tired and sick: it is an enormous energy guzzler. Intermittent fasting restores your insulin sensitivity, making your blood sugar more stable. This significantly reduces the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
4. Increase in Growth Hormone Production
Periodic fasting will increase your growth hormone production (especially when combined with exercise). The main function of growth hormone is to aid in the repair and growth of body cells and tissues. More growth hormone means faster recovery from ailments and complaints. Growth hormone also stimulates your body to burn energy from your fat reserves and helps build muscle.
5. Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
Reduction of inflammation and recovery of insulin sensitivity means in itself a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, intermittent fasting can also help lower high blood pressure and has a beneficial effect on elevated LDL cholesterol and elevated triglycerides. Even more factors that help keep your heart and blood vessels healthy.
6. Delay Premature Aging
The only proven method in rats to help them live healthier lives longer is to reduce calorie intake. They sometimes live 80 percent longer. It seems that intermittent fasting (in rats) can achieve similarly good results. Since intermittent fasting provides so many health benefits (see above), it is likely that delaying premature aging is not only true for rats but also for humans.
7. Last but not least: it helps with weight loss
Everything that helps to lose weight if you are really overweight, also helps to get more energy. Intermittent fasting prompts the body to switch from burning glucose to burning fat. When the body learns to burn fat again, it will whine less about sweets and fast carbohydrates, which also helps with weight loss. Intermittent fasting also speeds up your metabolism, making weight loss easier. Because you do not fast for a long time, your metabolism does not decrease and your body does not end up in the saving mode. This prevents the yo-yo effect of crash diets.
Make it easy on yourself: choose time window fasting
The extent to which intermittent fasting can contribute to a higher energy level depends on how you do it and how your body responds to it. The easiest way is to extend the period that you sleep at night and therefore do not eat, with hours of fasting before or after. The fasting period should be at least 12 hours. Extend this to 2 to 4 p.m. If you feel comfortable doing this, you can do this several days a week.
If you have fluctuating blood sugar levels and find it difficult to do without breakfast, start eating an early evening meal that ends at 6:00 PM. After that, if you don’t eat anything until your breakfast at 8:00 AM, you’ve fasted for 14 hours. An excellent start.
Build it up slowly
If you have stable blood sugar, you can choose to eat early in the evening and postpone your breakfast a bit. If you finish your dinner at 7 p.m. and breakfast at 11 a.m., you’ve fasted a whopping 16 hours. You can do this as often as you want. This is my favorite pattern; I do this four to five times a week. Sometimes I skip breakfast and then have lunch around 12 noon.
Build it up slowly. If your normal fasting period is only 8 hours, gradually increase this to 12 hours. Then you can stretch it a little further. Don’t do it 7 days a week, otherwise your metabolism will adapt to this. Keep surprising your body again and again and eat at different times.
Of course, you will only get the greatest benefits of intermittent fasting if you eat as healthy as possible firstly, and secondly if you eat less than usual as a result. So don’t go bunkering before the fasting period starts, especially if you want to lose weight.
Not for everyone: your body is always right
It is still important to use your common sense. It may be that in your situation it is not such a good idea to fast, for example if you are recovering from surgery, an illness, are pregnant or already have a low weight. If you are too skinny, make sure that you do not eat less. Feel good whether this is a suitable method for you if you want more energy. It may be that ‘grazing’ is a suitable method for you.
If you are addicted to sugar or if your blood glucose level still fluctuates considerably, your body will benefit more from eating regularly. Then build up the intermittent fasting very slowly or leave it out for a while. First, work on stabilizing your blood sugar and training your body to use fat molecules as a source of energy.