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There’s a new health and fitness buzzword gaining traction lately: intuitive fasting. Wellness fanatic and Hollywood goddess Gwenyth Paltrow herself swears by it, so you know it’s worth investigating.
Intuitive fasting is essentially a combination of intuitive eating and intermittent fasting, two terms which may initially seem at odds with one another. However, the two different styles of eating can actually complement each other – and your body – very well.
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Intuitive eating is a self-care framework. It’s all about listening to your body, honoring your hunger and giving yourself what you need rather than following a strict diet. However, it’s a little more nuanced than “eating what you want, when you want.”
You see, the vast majority of us are shaped from a young age by the diet-obsessed world in which we live. For many, food has become a punishment, a reward, or a total taboo rather than an enjoyable way of nourishing the body.
We’ve either learned to ignore our hunger cues, or have gone the opposite way and use food as a crutch to deal with emotional issues. In fact, some people do both. This often results in an unhealthy cycle of bingeing and restricting, which I don’t have to tell you is simply terrible for your health and wellbeing.
Intuitive eating is all about getting back in touch with your body and giving your body what it needs rather than sticking to a restrictive set of rules, or living off of junk food that makes you feel bloated and lethargic.
It’s essentially about relying on your own hunger levels to tell you when it’s time to start and stop eating. The idea is that you’ll neither starve yourself, nor eat past the point of fullness, allowing your body to discover its own happy medium.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern. It’s not a diet because it’s about when you eat, rather than the actual foods you consume – although of course, you’ll reap the most benefits if you follow a healthy and nutritious diet.
This style of eating is actually based on the way our ancestors ate. Cavemen didn’t enjoy three square meals; they ate when they could and would often go long periods of time without food. The ones who survived were the ones who were best able to function for many hours at a time without food.
There are various different patterns you can follow, but the 16:8 pattern is probably the most popular (16 hours fasting and an eight-hour window in which to eat). Alternatively, some prefer the 20:4 ratio or the 5:2 method, whereby you fast for two non-consecutive days per week and eat normally for the remaining five.
Studies have found that intermittent fasting has a myriad of mental and physical benefits.
It has shown to increase concentration by boosting the BDNF protein in the brain by anywhere between 50-400%. This could explain why fasting has been used across many different cultures and religions to assist with prayer and meditation. There’s also evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
As for the physical benefits, intermittent fasting is thought to reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It can help with weight management by encouraging followers to eat less by providing a smaller window in which to consume their daily calories.
For a more in-depth explanation of intermittent fasting, check out this article.
Intuitive fasting essentially means finding the method of intermittent fasting that works best for your unique body.
Dr. Will Cole has written an entire book on the subject in which he devises a program that encourages users to trial many different intermittent fasting patterns and gives them the tools to understand which works best for their body.
Intuitive fasting is a flexible-four week program – as the ‘intuitive’ part suggests, there are no hard-and-fast rules that participants must follow. It’s a holistic approach to health that also aims to speed up the body’s natural metabolism and reduce the inflammation that can so often make us uncomfortable, whilst encouraging a healthy relationship with food.
When intuitive fasting, you can customise your fast to suit your particular lifestyle and your specific hunger levels on any given day. One day, it might be easy to fast for twenty hours but the next, you might want to be more flexible and fast for just ten.
This way, you still receive the amazing benefits of intermittent fasting but enjoy a more flexible relationship with food, which will ultimately make it much easier to stick to this pattern of eating in the long term.
Have you tried intuitive fasting? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out my article on 10 easy ways to detox your body.
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Your Luxe Lifestyle was founded by luxury world traveler Isabella Garofanelli bringing you the very best the globe has to offer in travel, lifestyle, and wellness.
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