Exploring the Power of Intermittent Fasting: My Personal Insights

Exploring the Power of Intermittent Fasting: My Personal Insights

I write about Intermittent Fasting, a dietary approach revolving around scheduled eating and fasting periods. It has garnered attention globally in the context of losing weight. Intermittent Fasting doesn’t dictate food choices but rather focuses on timing e.g. the 16/8 method that is the most common (16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours during which you eat), the 24 to 36 hour fast once a week, etc.

Over the years, I have experimented with various configurations of fasting, with my success metrics being my blood biomarker improvements (e.g. lower levels of triglycerides, visceral fat, inflammation) as well as for more qualitative improvements like better energy levels, less brain fog, etc. The latter are hard to measure but you know when you feel better.

I want to highlight a few benefits of Intermittent Fasting that I have observed.

- Cellular Repair: Fasting initiates autophagy, a process of clearing out damaged cells, promoting cell health. How long a fast is needed to trigger autophagy isn’t clear but it is believed that it starts happening around the 16 hour mark and therefore the 16/8 protocol.

- Brain Health: Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting may have neuroprotective effects and improve brain function. I can qualitatively state that I felt the benefits in terms of clarity in my thinking.

- Inflammation Reduction: Intermittent fasting has helped reduce my inflammation marker (hs-CRP) by about 20% (see post #6 for more context).

- Weight and Visceral Fat Loss: Intermittent fasting can improve metabolism and fat-burning processes. This is because after glycogen depletion due to Intermittent Fasting, the body turns to fat stores for energy. It is useful to note that most of us have enough fat reserves in our body to keep us going for days. Not that we should fast for long periods, because there are certain mechanisms that kick in during very long fasting periods that may signal to the body to accumulate fat rather than use it. I found that I lost visceral fat (9 down to 3) due to different forms of fasting coupled with eating right.

- Improved Insulin Sensitivity: My HbA1c dropped from pre-diabetic to normal levels using a combination of zone 2 exercise (walking at 60% to 70% of my maximum heart rate) and Intermittent Fasting.

I also want to talk about a few useful tips that I keep in mind when doing any form of fasting:

- I break my fasts with fiber followed by fat and protein and then carbs. I avoid breaking my fast with carbs because I have noticed even larger spikes in my glucose levels when I do that.

- I engage in weight training to ensure that I don’t lose muscle mass, especially when I undertake 24 - 36 hour fasts, which I do about once a month.

- I drink slightly more than my usual amount of water because I have found that it helps me adhere to my fasting periods that much better.

As always, speak to your doctor if you have any health issues before embarking on any fasting program.
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Nachiket Naik: How does this stack up against ‘eat a little every 2/3 hours’ ?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Nachiket each time one eats, it takes the body about 3 hours to digest the food. If we eat every 3 hours we are constantly putting stress on the digestive system. This can increase insulin resistance if the carb content of these mini meals is high (which it typically is) or if there isn’t enough protein and unsaturated fat in these meals. All in all, it’s possible to eat very healthy even in this configuration to avoid some of the issues but intermittent fasting is usually a more successful solution. Hope that makes sense.

Nachiket Naik: Thanks

Nachiket Naik

Madhurima Naidu: An absolute awesome fact based reasoning as to why intermittent fasting! I am absolutely going to send this to every person who says " Twins! Looking great kya karti ho 😁 "It may just be my personal experience… But I have been on intermittent for a long time before I got pregnant and I feel that it helped me not crave unhealthy foods or binge eat when I did the eat every 3 hrs when I was pregnant… I was all baby and no fat ☺

Nickhil Jakatdar: Madhurima yours is such a real practical story of the benefits of doing IF consistently and correctly. Thanks for sharing it. Are there any tips you can provide that really helped?

Madhurima Naidu: No tips really, I just followed the time strictly even when I was a little hungry, I am such a foodie that Intermittent is the only diet that worked for me. Because I could eat anything and everything. I think your body just gets used to a certain amount of calories and then doesn’t allow more. And yes whiskey is weight friendly than beer obviously when relegated to once a week 😁

Madhurima Naidu

Vrushali Chandwaskar: In my personal experience intermittent fasting is a great way to reset one’s digestive system( it has a time limit )…its just like when we have to organize a shelf we get all the clutter out first and then re-arrange, throw certain things out and make a purposeful space. Then the job is done! Just like that the body is put in a reset mode to observe what happens in the absence of food, people take this fasting / starving to a level where it triggers inflammation and other chronic issues. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in proper intervals, right proportions and proper food combinations is the key to health….above all slowing down is what leads to self-reflection and ultimate discoveries! People need to really understand this process!

Nickhil Jakatdar: Vrushali that’s great insight! Thanks for sharing

Vrushali Chandwaskar: Yep

Vrushali Chandwaskar

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir: I hope it’s ok to add a little to your very useful post. 😁 IF is a well researched method to reduce inflammation, deplete glycogen stores, lose fat, regulate the GI system, give neuro protection, improve blood sugar control, add to cardio metabolic health etc. Some people start IF with the goal of weight loss and still don’t achieve it… what one eats in the eating window is just as important. Caution for beginners is that they may experience lethargy, headaches, constipation and feeling nauseous. It is safe but not for everyone. Not recommended for people with – eating disorders – Pregnant and breast feeding mums Caution in folk with kidney stones and Gastro oesophageal reflux And finally … it’s important to take it at your own pace and stop if fasting is impacting your emotions, decreasing your energy levels, or causing extreme hunger.

Nickhil Jakatdar: Swapna excellent points. Thank you for adding them.

Swapna Gadgil Gambhir

Bimba Rao: Thanks Nickhil, very useful article! So I assume you’re doing 16:8 daily and the 24-36 hour fast once a month?

Nickhil Jakatdar: Bimba thanks. That’s exactly right. I’d like to do the 24-36 hour fast more often than once a month but practically I haven’t been able to pull it off as yet. I am going to be experimenting with a quarterly 5 day fast given some of its benefits but I’ll report on it if I ever manage to pull off even one of those successfully.

Bimba Rao

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