Restrict Your Eating Window: Transform Your Life with Intermittent Fasting
A recent article on CNN highlighted the benefits of intermittent fasting for living a longer, healthier life (I have been preaching this for years now, but it’s hitting mainstream)! The benefits of intermittent fasting are profound, both for preventative and healing a wide range of diseases and illnesses. Today we will explore how eating within a 6-hour window (and fasting for 18 hours per day) may be the health solution you’ve been in search of.
How To Intermittent Fast
Intermittent fasting is the act of mindfully restricting your eating window, daily. Technically we all fast every single night (hence the name break-fast), but most people mindlessly eat for a substantial portion of each day. Eating doesn’t necessarily mean having a whole meal; it can be a handful of nuts, or a piece of chocolate before bed. As soon as you consume anything but water: the clock starts, and it ends after you take your last bite of food or drink (other than water) before sleep.
The benefits of intermittent fasting start at 12 hours and increase as your fasting window increases. The cost-benefit of intermittent fasting seems to peak around the 18-hour mark, whereby you eat daily within a 6-hour window each day.
For a 6/18 split, this generally means skipping one meal per day (either breakfast or dinner). The ‘better’ option depends on what is most sustainable for your lifestyle. Ideally, you don’t want to be eating food within three hours of bed to promote a night of deeper sleep.
Another type of fasting that may be more sustainable, and yield similar benefits, is the 5:2 split, whereby you eat ‘regularly’ for five days a week and fast entirely for two days per week. The two days do not need to be consecutive.
The Benefits of the Eating Window
Intermittent fasting has a wide range of benefits, many of which are rooted in the process of autophagy— a self-eating process that cells undergo during periods of fasting. Autophagy happens when the body is ‘fat-burning’ mode, brought on through ketosis and even more-so during fasting.
While the body is in this fat-burning state and starved of food, it resorts to burning old, unwanted, or unneeded cellular debris. In doing so, the body rids itself of a wide range of potentially diseased cells that may have resulted in illness down the line.
During the re-feeding period, the body created a surge of new stem cells, which go to work to replace the lost cellular material with fresh and healthy cells.
Intermittent fasting benefits health in various ways, including:
- Improves sleep
- Better cognition
- Improved neuroplasticity
- Better heart health
- Improved athletic performance
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Reverse type 2 diabetes
- Reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Reduce the risk of developing cancer
- Promotes longevity
- Promotes weight loss
- Youthful skin
- Increased muscle tone
- Increased libido
The Eating Window: It’s Not What You Eat; It’s When You Eat
Studies suggest that when you eat is more important than what you eat. In his book The Circadian Code, Professor Sachin Panda explores the benefits that are merely constricting your feeding window can have on your health, even if your diet itself doesn’t change whatsoever.
His studies on rats demonstrated the ability for intermittent fasting to reverse obesity, high fatty cholesterol, liver disease, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease—without actually changing the type of food the animals we’re eating.
It’s ideal for eating a healthy diet—but the critical point here is that the timing of when you eat it can have an even more profound impact on your health. When combined, intermittent fasting and a clean diet are like rocket fuel for achieving your health goals.
Eating Window: Don’t Eat Less, Eat Less Often
The key with intermittent fasting is not to eat less, its to eat less often. The benefits do not come from caloric restriction, but from the time restriction. Although intermittent fasting does tend to reduce the caloric intake in overeaters, you do not want to be hitting a daily caloric deficit over a long period.
The body is brilliant, and chronic caloric deficits lead to a slower metabolism. The body goes into self-preservation mode when it is chronically underfed, which leads to a tactful storing of body fat. The storing of body fat can lead to a ‘skinny-fat’ look instead of turning you into a fat-burning machine.
Intermittent fasting can be a part of what we call ‘diet variation,’ whereby you have some bigger feast days, and some fasted days. It promotes metabolic flexibility and acts like training for your metabolism. Finding a fasting period that works for your body is vital, that challenges your body but not too much, allowing it the time to rest and repair.
Is Intermittent Fasting For Everyone?
There are a few limitations or caveats to fasting. Although everyone can benefit from fasting, not everyone is hormonally healthy enough to dive straight into a 6/18 split. If you’re new to fasting, start at a 12-hour feeding and 12-hour fasting window. The benefits kick in at 12 hours, so start there and increase the fasting window with time.
Although the most important thing is when you eat, note that if you end up binge eating after an 18 hour daily fast, you may need to focus on either eating more nutrient-dense foods or easing off the length of the daily fast. Find something that works for your lifestyle, and doesn’t promote any unhealthy habits.
It can be difficult when you first start becoming adapted to intermittent fasting, but with time the mood swings or “hangry” sensations that occur when you’re typically used to eating that 3rd meal will decrease.
Eating Window: Summary
Intermittent fasting is the art of daily restricted eating. The benefits start to kick in around 12 hours of fasting, and 12 hours of feeding– but the real magic hovers around the 6 hours of food and 18 hours of fasting mark. Autophagy is the primary mechanism that promotes health and longevity, and the benefits include improved sleep, cognition, heart health, and athletic performance, as well as decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.
My Fasting Secret: Fasting With Pique Tea
The advantage of fasting with tea (versus something like water or juice) is that you consume no calories, and yet you get nutrients that support your metabolism… suppress your appetite… and give you energy. Fasting with tea, in most cases, will produce the most dramatic weight loss results. Especially with the right tea.
The best tea for fasting, in my professional opinion, is Pique Fasting Tea. Here’s why:
Their Fasting Matcha has been reformulated to contain the following ingredients…
1) A proprietary blend of high catechin green Tea Crystals – Catechins in green tea suppress the hunger hormone ghrelin and increases thermogenesis (burning fat for fuel). This helps people stay fasted – caving into cravings is the #1 reason fasting doesn’t work.
2) Organic highest ceremonial grade matcha – Using the same grade matcha as our renowned Sun Goddess Matcha, increased levels of l-theanine calm you during fasts so you can overcome the mental challenge of fasting. This top-grade matcha also has a creamier, umami-rich (instead of grassy) taste.
Pique has other teas (including non-caffeinated)—again, I like matcha due to the antioxidant, energy, and weight loss benefits—and you can learn about them all here.
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