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Intermittent fasting: how often are we supposed to eat?

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There’s a lot of different theories around eating; one of the elements in this debate is about frequency of eating.

Classically, the average person thinks about eating in regards to the names that we have used to describe meals.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  You’ll hear about people saying things like “3 square meals a day.” Or “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I would imagine the average person eats shortly after getting up in the morning, and often find themselves eating something after their planned dinner whether that be dessert or snacks nearing the time that they go to bed.

In regards to an eating window, many people will eat during their day throughout a 14-16 hour window (eg. 8am – 10pm). 

The only time that most people are not consuming food is when they are sleeping.  Let’s spend a minute here…

When you go to sleep for a reasonable amount of time, let’s say 10pm – 6am. During those 8 hours, unless you’re a sleepwalker, you’re not consuming anything ;).  Naturally, your body will use up any available energy taken in at the end of your day to do what it needs to do in regards to repair, rebuilding etc..  Upon waking, having not consumed food for 8 hours, you are technically getting close to what we would call a fast.  So congrats, every one of you have already fasted in your life many times.  It’s even in the name of your first meal “break-fast.”

When we’re talking about fasting in this context, we’re talking about the CONTINUATION of the natural fast that you’re already in when you wake. This can be more difficult because once awake, we now might have cravings to eat.

Think about reducing your eating window.  

What if I was to tell you that to fast, you simply need to reduce your eating window.  Drop it from 14 hours to 8 hours (as an example).  This would force you to fast throughout the day for an additional 6 hours.  Now where would you put those 6 hours?

For the 8am – 10pm (14 hours) example above,  one way that you could do it would be to get up, eat breakfast and have your last meal at 4pm, or you could delay your first meal of the day to noon or 2pm and maintain your end of day eating habits. Another example I prefer, is to delay eating until noon and also cut out the late night eating by avoiding food after 8pm.

A BONUS to choosing the morning fasting example is that you’re already in a fasting state (nighttime)…

…and by continuing with that fast through the morning you will get a longer state of fasting (8 hours of sleep + additional 4-6 hours) that will make for a longer fasting state of 12-14 hours long, more than half of which you’ll be asleep for!!!

Benefits to participating in this vary.  It depends on what you’re interested in, but some of the main factors are in the realm of control of blood-sugar, production of ketones, and maintaining a ketogenic state, all of which have a slew of health benefits that range from reducing free radicals, boosting growth hormone, lowering triglycerides and giving you more sustained energy.

Do your research and consider that physiologically, our bodies are not designed to be opening the fridge every couple of hours and have such readily available access to food.  Traditionally, humans would have naturally eaten less frequently throughout a day, and ultimately would have semi-regularly had even longer periods of no food that may have lasted entire days or multiple days in a row.

Also, what you eat, makes a huge difference in your body’s biochemistry…

(email Carmen at info@uclife.ca and ask her to send you a couple of documents I wrote about Ketogenesis and a game plan for diving deep into eating low carb/low sugar diet). Ultimately, regardless of your diet plans, experimenting with reduced eating windows is worth exploring to see how your body responds and how it may help you achieve your health goals.

Any follow up questions, send them directly to me at drkittleson@uclife.ca or check us out on FaceBook and ask your question directly there @UCLifeChiropracticCentre

Have fun!

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