There are many different ways one can fast.
You can skip dinner.
Participate in a seasonal four-time yearly fast.
Avoid food for a 24 hour period once a week.
Drink nothing but juice for an extended period of time.
But none of these fasting options sound all that desirable to me. However, 12 hour intermittent fasting is a different story. In my opinion, 12 hour intermittent fasting is the easiest and least painful way to go about fasting. If you are following an otherwise nutrient dense clean eating diet, it should actually be easy to do. As mentioned, I have been doing it more or less by accident for years.
Why Would You Want to Fast in the First Place?
For much of human history, sporadic access to food was likely the norm, especially for hunter-gatherers. Fasting to improve health dates back thousands of years, with Hippocrates and Plato among its earliest proponents. Although the idea of eating five or six small meals throughout the day has been popular among dieters, if you think about it, it is highly unlikely that people who lived 1000 years ago were eating three meals a day plus snacks.
Science is now starting to agree that keeping your stomach filled to the brim with food all day long might not be the healthiest thing to do after all. More recently, fasting diets are starting to gain popularity among mainstream doctors and scientists.
Modern Physicians are Incorporating Fasting Protocols Into their Diet Recommendations
***As a side note, Dr. Perlmutter is my former neurologist, he also wrote the foreword to my first book, The Gold Coast Cure. Dr. Wahls is a medical doctor who has reversed her symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) with nutrition and lifestyle modification.***
But Fasting Is Nothing New!
“There is nothing new, except what has been forgotten.” – Marie Antoinette
“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.” – Hippocrates
Of all the various ways to fast, 12 hour intermittent fasting seems to be the easiest and most pleasant way to go about the whole thing…
4 Health Benefits of 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting
There is good research to support a number of different health benefits of fasting. And you don’t need to avoid food for days on end to reap the benefits either! Here are some of the benefits of 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting.
- Improved Brain Health. Fasting has been shown to support mitochondrial health and anything that supports mitochondrial health also improves brain health. According to research published in Dr. Wahls book, there is even some evidence that intermittent fasting may reverse progressive brain disorders.
- Enhanced Detoxification. Your body is constantly trying to detoxify itself 24 hours a day. The body uses a great deal of energy to detoxify, but it also uses a great deal of energy to digest food. When your body is not busy digesting food, it can focus its energy on eliminating toxins and healing. Giving your body time to focus solely on cellular repair through the process of 12-hour intermittent fasting can be incredibly beneficial for optimizing detoxification.
- Reduced Inflammation. Fasting “turns on” the NRF2 gene pathway, which not only produces a dramatic increase in antioxidant protection and enhanced detoxification, but also decreases inflammation.
- Weight Loss / Weight Management. In general it takes between 6 to 8 hours for the body to burn through its glycogen supply. When glycogen is depleted the body will then turn to the energy stored in fat cells. Eating throughout the day makes it much harder for the body to burn fat. Extending the time between eating with 12 hour intermittent fasting will force your body to tap into stored fat reserves.
How to Incorporate 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting Into Your Day
If you want to try incorporating a 12 hour intermittent fast into your day, you’ll need to leave at least 12 hours between your evening meal and your morning meal. In other words, if you typically eat dinner at 7 pm then you will want to wait until at least 7 am before having anything else to eat.
If you have our book, you know we believe that it is never a good idea to eat if you are not hungry. My husband is never hungry for breakfast so he skips it all together. As for me, I find I typically can go about 14 hours between dinner and breakfast. Because of my husband’s work schedule, we typically don’t eat dinner until around 8 pm and I find I am not hungry for breakfast until at least 10:30–sometimes as late as 11!
I should point out though that if you are new to clean eating, you may find it very difficult to go for long periods of time between meals. Before I changed my diet, I distinctly remember how I not only always needed an after dinner snack, but I would wake up in the morning ravenous. I think you really need to be eating a nutrient-dense diet and have stable blood sugar before you can start going for long stretches without eating and still feel comfortable.
And speaking of feeling comfortable, I am not at all hungry during the dinner-breakfast “fasting” window either. I don’t think it’s a good idea to ever eat when you are not hungry, but I also think it is a bad idea to let yourself be miserable and hungry for hours on end too. Having said that, I do think if you are eating a nutrient dense diet and a solid and healthy dinner, you should find it rather easy to go 12 hours without eating. You could potentially be doing your body a big favor too!
Have You Experimented with 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting?
If so, please be sure to leave a comment and let me know how it has worked for you!