Have you ever been given the advice that in order to rev up your metabolism you should be eating every two hours? Or 6 times a day? Did you know there is actually no science behind these statements?
We thought this would “keep our metabolism going” and "keep adding fuel to our fire". From sun up to sun down, eat, eat, eat. And with our new super fast and improved metabolisms, we'd be a lean mean fat burning machine! But, why do we think that eating all the time is the way to get thin?
What if I were to tell you there's some hefty science behind the benefits of not eating for 12-16 hours a day? Enter: Intermittent Fasting.
BREAKING DOWN THE BENEFITS
I talked about two weeks ago about how constantly flooding our bodies with sugar, we have no choice but to store excess sugar in our fat cells. Let’s add another layer to this:
When we eat and glucose is present in our blood stream, the body releases our fat storing hormone: insulin. Insulin's job is to store glucose as energy for later. Now, if you watched my mini lesson on sugar you know that if our liver and muscles are already filled to capacity with glucose, we can always store more in our fat cells.
Let’s say you are someone who eats immediately when you wake up all the way up until you get ready for bed. Chances are, unless you’re an athlete, your blood sugar level is always going to stay pretty high—and therefore, so is the amount of insulin in your blood stream.
If we are always eating, insulin is present.
If insulin is present, it will never allow our body to use its stored energy (which is FAT!).
When insulin is constantly present, our body builds up a tolerance for it. When our tolerance to insulin increases, we need more and more of it to do its job. Overtime, our bodies can stop responding to insulin and lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
So how does I.F. effect our sensitivity to insulin? When we fast for a prolonged amount of time, our body does not have to release as much insulin and our tolerance and sensitivity to is stays at a normal level.
HEALING LEAKY GUT
If you had a broken ankle, how fast would it heal if you ran 6 miles every day? Now, think of it this way: how fast will our leaky gut heal if we eat all day long? What if we are eating highly inflammatory foods? Foods high in sugar? Never giving our digestive system a break can really reek havoc.
Intermittent fasting allows our digestive system to rest and recover much like you do when you head to bed at the end of a long day.
Intermittent fasting allows your body to break down old cells, get rid of them, and create new healthy ones. Old cells make you look old! More on this later.
Growth hormone is our number one hormone in fat burning and insulin is our number one hormone in fat storing. They have an inverse relationship so when growth hormone is high, insulin is low and vice versa. Fasting stimulates growth hormone and since we are in a fasting state, insulin is low allowing our bodies to use some of its stored energy—stored fat.
Why is this different than the typical “portion control” diet?
Our bodies are really smart. When you cut back on calories, you will likely see an initial weight loss. However, over time your body will adjust and only burn the amount of calories you are giving it—it slows your metabolism.
Think of it this way, if you were making $100k a year and your company had to make cuts and you suddenly only made $50k a year—you wouldn’t keep spending $100k a year or else you'd go bankrupt.
Our body protects itself by only burning the amount of calories you give it. This is why there is typically very little lasting success with standard “diets” that suggest restricting calories. But, if our body slows our metabolism when we restrict calories, what does it do when we fast?
Intermittent fasting vs. restricting calories
Our metabolism can never be zero. If it was, we’d be dead. Because we have to stay alive when we are in a prolonged (12-24 hours) fasting state, our body has no choice but to tap in to it’s stored energy—our fat cells. This is a natural process! Think of our ancestors who did not have food available at all times. If you never let your body go into a fasting state, you will always be burning food because it’s always there!
Restricting calories puts our bodies into starvation mode—consuming so few calories our body thinks it is in danger. It then produces our stress hormone—cortisol, and stores all of our food away instead of burning it off because it’s not sure when it’s going to get more again. What doesn’t put our body into “starvation mode” is actual starvation--not eating for 12-24 hours.
On Friday I will be talking more about my experience with I.F. and the ways that it helped me!
That's all for now, stay smpl.