This article, written by Dr. Nagula, was first published on www.Nutritiontastic.com.
Eating well isn’t just about what you eat, but also when you eat. Unfortunately, it’s hard-wired in our brains to eat a big breakfast as soon as we wake up, and regular meals and snacks throughout the day until we go to sleep. However, the latest research shows that this eating regimen really isn’t best for our health. In fact, a healthy eating schedule falls more in line with the intermittent fasting strategy.
What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves reducing your feeding window. Instead of eating throughout your waking hours, you restrict your mealtimes to an eight- or twelve-hour period. For example, I typically restrict my eating to 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
What are the biological mechanisms of fasting?
Cellular autophagy: Without fasting, your body never gets a chance to rest and repair – constantly eating, digesting, and preparing for the next meal. This is the key goal of intermittent fasting: giving your body and metabolism a break. By doing so, your body can enter a state called cellular autophagy. Cellular autophagy is a state wherein the body repairs itself on a cellular level, fighting off mutations that can lead to poor organ function and even cancer.
Ketosis: In a fasted state, your body also spends more time in ketosis. When in ketosis, your body has to use stored fat for fuel because it doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to burn. Many health benefits are associated with ketosis including blood sugar regulation and reduced inflammation.
Tips for moving toward a healthier eating schedule:
Trust me, I get it. It can be overwhelming to even think about making changes like this to your eating schedule. But also trust me in saying that it is worth it. Here are some tips for making the transition to intermittent fasting easier:
- Ramp up slowly. Don’t start out with a 48-hour fast (which should only be done under medical supervision anyway). Try starting out with a twelve-hour eating window, then go down to ten- and then eight-hour windows. Your body will adapt to this new schedule, and you can tolerate longer periods of fasting as time goes on.
- Everything in moderation. Give yourself a free pass once a week, a day when you don’t have to follow your intermittent fasting schedule. My free pass day is Saturday, and I allow myself to eat whatever and whenever I want. This helps me maintain focus and motivation to adhere to my schedule for the rest of the week.
- Make eating convenient. I like to use meal delivery services and meal prepping. For meal delivery services, I use Blue Apron and Green Chef for healthy, organic, and convenient meals delivered straight to my door. Meal prepping in bulk twice a week saves time and money, and helps me stay true to my intermittent fasting schedule, as well.
About the author
In 2014, I was a busy doctor and entrepreneur when I received the news that I had stage four cancer. Prior to my diagnosis, I ran from patient to patient all day long, rarely prioritizing my own diet or health. Obviously, this lifestyle caught up to me. My cancer was undoubtedly fueled by my diet: both what and when I was eating.
Thankfully, cancer was a wake-up call for me; I realized it was time to put my health and wellness first. I overcame cancer and am now in the best health of my life. Moving forward, I hope to share the lessons I learned in my journey to better health with others. For more health and wellness tips, check out my book, “From Doctor to Patient” here.