For me, the idea of dietary fasting does not sound appealing, but I only recently realized 12 hour fasting has unintentionally been part of my lifestyle for years now.
And the health benefits are definitely worth taking note…
5 Different Ways to Intermittent Fast
Here are 4 different ways that you can intermittent fast and make an impact on your health, digestion and more. Keep reading for the BIG 4 Health Benefits to Intermittent Fasting.
#1: You can skip dinner.
This seems simple enough in theory, but I love making dinner with my husband and we love eating dinner together as a family. I’d rather not skip dinner. What about you?
#2: Participate in a seasonal four-time yearly fast.
A seasonal fast is just that — you fast for a period of time (think 3-4 days every time the seasons change) by choosing a method and follow this yearly. If you want to know more about Seasoning Fasting, stop by Ryan’s article where he shares how he implements this into his yearly routine.
#3: Avoid food for a 24 hour period once a week.
As Brad Pilon shares in his book Eat Stop Eat, a 24 hour fast once per week is a lifestyle that will help most people burn through the glucose they have stored in their bodies and subsequently transition to using fat as an energy source instead.
#4: Drink nothing but juice for an extended period of time.
Yes, that’s right — you would juice everything and if you’ve been around Clean Cuisine for any length of time, we don’t recommend juicing because it remove vital nutrients from your foods.
#5: 12 HOUR INTERMITTENT FASTING
Truthfully, none of these fasting options sound all that desirable to me. However, 12 hour fasting is a different story.
In my opinion, 12 hour 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.
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.
As mentioned, I have been doing it more or less by accident for years.
What are the Benefits of 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting?
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
But Intermittent 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
BIG Health Benefits of 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting
There is good research to support a number of different health benefits of 12 hour intermittent fasting. 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.
#1: Improved Brain Health.
12 Hour Intermittent 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.
#2: 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.
#3: Reduced Inflammation.
12 Hour Intermittent Fasting “turns on” the NRF2 gene pathway, which not only produces a dramatic increase in antioxidant protection and enhanced detoxification, but also decreases inflammation.
#4: 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.
(Since writing this post, I’ve learned so more benefits of Intermittent Fasting that I wanted to pass onto you.)
#5: Improved Workouts
According to PubMed, training with limited carbohydrate availability can stimulate adaptations in muscle cells to facilitate energy production via fat oxidation.
Which means, when you workout during the fasting window of your 12 hour intermittent fasting, your body gets better at burning fat for energy since there are no foods to pull from.
#6: Live Longer
Scientists have known for a long time that restricting calories can lengthen life. Intermittent fasting activates many of the same mechanisms for extending life as calorie restriction does.
Even Plato in 420 BC and Hippocrates in 460 BC were writing about fasting.
How to Incorporate 12 Hour Fasting Into Your Day
If you want to try incorporating a 12 hour intermittent fast into your day, you’ll need to follow these important considerations:
• Leave at least 12 hours between your evening meal and your morning meal. This is called “12 hour fasting”.
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. This will leave a break of a 12 hour fast in between your eating schedule.
• Eat a nutrient-dense diet and have stable blood sugar
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.
• Make sure that you can go long stretches without eating and still be 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 do a 12 hour fast. You could potentially be doing your body a big favor too!
How to Begin 12 Hour Intermittent Fasting
There is no reason you need to start out fasting for the full 12 hours. This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It takes time for your body to adjust to not eating especially if you typically have an evening snack or grab breakfast right when you wake.
For me, I typically take my evening supplements around 9pm. Then, I wake up slow and take my time getting ready in the morning.
Your Body Will Adapt
When are you first starting out, you may experience some hunger pains. This is because you taught your body that you are going to feed it first thing in the morning. If you extend intermittent fasting by 20-30 minutes a day, within a few weeks you can extend your fasting period from 8-9 hours to the 12 hour fasting window.
Same things happens in the evening. Perhaps you have taught your body that when you sit down to relax after dinner, you like to have something sweet to eat. By reducing this back by 20-30 minutes a day, you can optimize your 12 hour intermittent fasting window.
12 Hours of Feeding + 12 Hours of Fasting
You have to decide when to start fasting, add 12 hours and then starting feasting. I tend to go with the 9pm – 9am fasting period and sometimes, will extend my morning by 1-2 more hours a few times a week.
This helps to keep my body guessing when I am going to feed it, which helps my focus and prolonging the detoxification process.
BUT… 12 Hour Fasting May Not Work
If you are anything like I was with hormone issues, gut imbalances, sleep issue, a liver needing detoxed or any vitamin deficiencies, 12-hour Intermittent Fasting may not work for you.
I always suggest to anyone interested in implementing a 12-hour Intermittent Fasting schedule, to get their bloodwork and labs. This helps to ensure your body is in optimal shape to change your diet.
Consider the following labs: hormones (thyroid, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone) along with vitamins and minerals.
If your lab results show an imbalance, check out a few articles at Clean Cuisine to get you back to optimal health so you can begin taking advantage of all of the 12-hour Intermittent Fasting benefits.
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!