Intermittent Fasting: All You Need To Know

Recently there has been increased interest in the press about Intermittent Fasting (IF) as a possible strategy for improving metabolic health and sustaining weight-management.

Fasting provides an environment which enables the body to cleanse, purify, and detox. While abstaining from solid food for periods of time may sound unappealing, our bodies are designed to go through intermittent periods of feast and famine. In today’s world, many chronic health problems arise from bad eating habits. The media constantly exposes us to processed and convenient foods chemically-altered or containing high-fat toxic ingredients lacking essential vitamins and minerals our bodies require. Our diet is a major cause of disruption to our body’s natural state of balance. We consume a diet greater than what we require, forcing our body to store substances that it accumulates and is unable to use, but even when our diet is adequate, it is still possible for waste to accumulate. 


Fasting promotes healing by getting rid of toxins that we have accumulated from the air, water, food, medicines and social toxins (cigarettes, alcohol, sugar). A fast is an extended period of abstinence from anything that triggers digestive function, meaning no solid food including smoothies (because they contain fibre). While fasting, you can consume water, herbal tea and fresh vegetable and fruit juices, it’s important to note that juices should be predominately vegetable. 

There are a number of reasons for fasting, it is the best method of cleaning the body, it promotes detoxification by mobilising and eliminating toxins, switching on repair genes, burning up diseased and inferior protein and fat tissues, it also reduces the amount of the growth hormone IGF-1 that leads to accelerated ageing and cancers. Fasting also encourages us to lose weight, regulate our blood sugar levels, rebuild our immune system, reduce high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and reduce the severity of inflammatory disease. Many people report that even a short fast can help to break unhealthy eating patterns and restore taste buds. 


Making time for fasting affects our gut, skin, and brain in many beneficial ways. Fasting gives your intestines a complete rest from digestion, allowing it to heal in many ways. Healthy bacteria thrive during a fast while bad bacteria struggle to survive, this helps to restore and balance your gut flora. When you have a good balance of healthy bacteria it will be much easier to eat healthily. Probiotics, the healthy bacteria that reside in the gut, keep infections, such as parasites, from taking over.

When toxins exit the body during a fast, your bowel or kidneys, along with your skin, are routes of elimination. When the body is very toxic the bowel and kidneys can become over burdened and those toxins will start to show up on the skin, after a fast improvements in skin health can be significant. It has been shown in many studies that fasting can also improve mood and protect the brain from dementia and cognitive decline. Our digestive process uses up to 70% of our daily energy supply, and the brain tends to use 25-50% when given the chance. While fasting, there is much more energy available for brain activity. By the end of the fast you will have more clarity, focus, concentration, and sharper senses. 


Our busy lifestyles, being constantly on the go and preoccupied with work, family or our social lives, make it hard for us to find time to fast. Juice detox retreats and programmes can also be time consuming and a bit expensive. One method of intermittent fasting that may be easier to take on if you have trouble arranging time for a juice cleanse is the 16:8 diet. In this routine, you eat within a window of 8 hours each day, for example from 12pm to 8pm, and fast during the remaining 16 hours. Within the 8-hour eating time frame, you eat as you normally would, but while fasting you can consume only those liquids listed above. Benefits of 16:8 fasting include increased fat loss, reduced cravings, improved insulin response, and improved overall health. The 16:8 diet can also help your body into ketosis, the state of fat burning faster.

Chloe Cunningham