Your Intermittent Fasting Plan For An Inflammation-Free Christmas
In 2017, intermittent fasting became one of our favorite ways to fight inflammation, balance blood sugar1, improve cognitive function, and fight disease. It's praised by functional and integrative medicine experts all around the world, who are increasingly recommending it to their patients for way more than just weight loss. At its core, IF is about reconnecting with the way our ancestors lived. At revitalize this year, Dr. Steven Gundry explained that "our ancestors didn’t crawl out of their cave and say 'What’s for breakfast?' There wasn’t any refrigerator or even any storage system." They would go long periods of time without food, and we're now finding out how that can be incredibly healing for the body and brain.
The holidays are the perfect time to experiment with fasting, as we are often indulging in more inflammatory foods than we are used to and it can be hard to maintain our happy weight through the month of December. But where do you start? Here are three great ways to experiment with intermittent fasting for an inflammation-free holiday season.
1. The 12-hour fast.
The best part about intermittent fasting is that it's simple. Either you are eating—or you aren't. If you're an IF beginner, the 12-hour fast is a great place to start and can easily be done over the holidays. Basically, you create a 12-hour daily fasting window. For example, you have dinner at 8 p.m. and don't eat again until 8 a.m. Many people do this naturally, but if you're someone who likes to indulge in some late-night snacking—or who feels like they need to eat as soon as they wake up—this is the perfect plan for you. According to Dr. Vincent Pedre, "When you don’t eat for 10 to 16 hours, your body reaches into its fat stores2 for energy—a desirable effect if your goal is losing weight."
2. The 8-hour eating window.
For those that are more comfortable with the idea of fasting, the eight-hour window is a great intermediate program. Essentially, you restrict your eating to an eight-hour window each day, meaning you are fasting for 16 hours. You might have your last meal by 6 p.m. and wait until 10 a.m. to eat breakfast. Or you might have a larger holiday meal that ends at 10 p.m. but then you sleep in and don't eat again until 2 p.m. the next day. Research supports3 this type of fast for preventing obesity, diabetes, and liver disease, and it is a great way to keep you feeling light and energized through the holidays.
3. The fasting-mimicking diet.
The ProLon fasting-mimicking diet was developed by Valter Longo—a biochemist at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Longevity Institute—and it's perfect for the more experimental among us. You will need to dedicate five full days to this program, either before or after the holidays. To complete this diet you have to fill out an online questionnaire or get a doctor's approval. Once you've been cleared and purchased the program, you get sent a big white box in the mail with everything you need to complete the fast. You'll be eating about 700 to 800 calories a day—in the form of soup, olives, and granola bars that are surprisingly delicious—and sipping on an electrolyte drink throughout the day. It's challenging, but you'll likely notice lasting changes in your hunger signals, inflammation levels, and hormone balance. It's a good way to recover after the holidays but equally good to do in the days before the holidays, as it will reconnect you with the true meaning of food as a fuel source and will cause you to appreciate every bite of delicious food you consume during this special time of year.
I tried the five-day fasting-mimicking diet. Here's what happened!
Gretchen Lidicker is an mbg health contributor, content strategist, and the author of CBD Oil Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness and Magnesium Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Epsom Salts, Magnesium Oil, and Nature's Relaxation Mineral. She holds a B.S. in biology and earned her master’s degree in physiology with a concentration in complementary and alternative medicine from Georgetown University.