2nd March is Ash Wednesday this year, the start of the Christian period of Lent – it is 40 days of fasting in preparation for Easter.  Regardless of religious beliefs various forms of fasting have been popular over many years for weight loss but is it really effective and a healthy option for everyone?

Fasting can mean various things to different people, some examples are:

  • Cutting out all food for so many hours a day eg 16:8 diet which is essentially not eating for 16 hours a day so eat only between 12 noon and 8pm or 8am until 4pm
  • Reducing calorie intake on certain days eg the 5:2 diet where calories are limited to 500 on just 2 days a week 
  • Cutting out certain food groups eg carbohydrates, fats, sugars, processed food etc

All forms of fasting require water throughout the day and during non-fasting hours it’s recommended to stick to healthy fats, protein, and vegetables so as not the experience carb cravings or dramatic dips in blood sugar. That said, before embarking on an intermittent fasting of any type please ask your doctor, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, under 18, or have any pre-existing conditions.  Intermittent fasting isn’t recommended for anyone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past.  

My top tips for entry level fasting, improved wellbeing, and healthy weight maintenance and reduction is:

  • Clean your teeth after your last meal of the day
  • Find you window for fasting to suit your daily life and build up gradually from an 8 hour fast to a 16 hour max and build it into your daily routine
  • Maximise your sleep time as best you can 

A teeth clean, immediately after your last meal of the day will avoid any subsequent snacking.  Exactly when to stop eating before bed varies from person to person since the speed of our metabolisms will vary.  Typically food would need c3 hours to digest before bed.  This will make for a more comfortable and restful night, as well as giving you an additional 3 hours to your sleep time for a period of fast.  This will give time for your food to move from you stomach to your intestines.

Bringing your final meal of the day forward, pushing your first meal of the day backwards slightly and upping your sleep time will all extend a fast period for you with minimal impact on your daily life.  

Whilst we are sleeping we are fasting of course, and the body is repairing.  Lack of sleep can affect everything from your mental health to your waistline.  A lack of sleep also appears to affect your immune system and ability to fight infection may decrease.  The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute share that people with sleep deficiency are more likely to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.  For optimal health, whether fasting or not, sleep is one of the most important things you can do for optimal health – it’s a priority.  The National Sleep foundation recommend that all adults need between 7 and 9 hours sleep per day.  It’s best to note how you feel after x amount of hours sleep and do your own study for how many hours make you awake the best.  The answer could be 6, 7 ,8 or 9!

Fasting for 16 hours a day has been proven to increase your metabolism, improve heart health as it reduces the bad cholesterol that clogs the blood vessels and heightens the changes of heart disease, and helps regulate blood sugars as it helps your body cope better with starches and sugars by causing cells to respond better to glucose.  Studies have shown longer life and better ageing benefits associated with regular fast periods. 

Spring 2022 starts on Sunday, March 20th bringing more sunlight hours across the day and warmer temperatures.  We have already started to see the spring blooms with the snowdrops breaking through in February.  So, we need to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful wonders of nature, safely catch the suns rays and start absorbing that vitamin D which is great for bone health and immunity.  Regardless of the outdoor temperature, always protect sun exposed skin with a SPF.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, I am happy to answer them privately, or in the next edition.  Just email me dianne@rejuvenateathypoxi.co.uk.  Previous copies of my health column can be found at www.rejuvenateathypoxi.co.uk

Spring into spring with great health and wellbeing.

Best wishes, Dianne x

Share This