The Fast … and the curious? How intermittent fasting – and some unlikely natural ingredients – could help you lose weight, look great and stay healthy.
What do Beyoncé, Bobbi Brown, Benedict Cumberbatch and a 74-year-old Japanese Nobel Prize-winning biologist called Yoshinori Ohsumi (not to mention Jimmy Kimmel, Nicole Kidman and a couple of the Kardashians?) all have in common?
Well they are all, in one way or another, firm believers in the powers and health benefits of intermittent fasting.
But intermittent fasting – where you alternate periods of eating, and periods of fasting – isn’t just for celebrities and Nobel laureates. In this post, we’ll look at how you can fit it into your life, and the many potential health benefits that doing so could have, from weight loss to anti-aging.
But we’ll also look at some of the incredible natural ingredients that harness similar processes to keep you looking and feeling great.
(Oh, and in case you were wondering, Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize 2016 for his work on “autophagy” – literally, “self-eating” – the process by which cells break down and recycle their own components, keeping the useful bits for energy or to build new cells (think of it as a ‘cellular detox’). Ohsumi found that starvation was an effective means of triggering this cleansing autophagy.
And Beyoncé is a Gra…. well, you probably know who Beyoncé is!)
Fast facts – the ‘what’ and the ‘how’
Intermittent fasting is actually an umbrella term for a range of different methods of having certain set times of low or no food consumption. Among the most recognised forms of intermittent fasting are:
- The 18/6 method – as in “18 hours fasting, 6 hours eating” – where, every day, you eat only during a set (in this case six-hour) window, and then fast the rest of day.
- The 5:2 diet – involving eating what you want on five days each week, but limiting yourself to around 500-600 calories on each of the other two days.
- Eat-Stop-Eat (or 24-hour fasting) – where at regular intervals (typically once a week or once a month) you go without food for a full 24 hours.
And there are further variations within and beyond each of these. But which to choose?
Well they all work in effectively the same way: they’re about getting the body into a fasted state during which fat is burnt and autophagy is stimulated.
And with each method, it isn’t necessarily about changing what you eat, it’s about changing when you eat. So really, it’s a matter of finding the method that’s right for you and your daily routine.
That said, of course, the basic health rules still apply. Intermittent fasting won’t be right for everyone – if you are on medication or have a pre-existing medical condition, speak to your doctor before beginning a fasting plan. And if you do fast, it’s vital that, on fasting days, you stay well-hydrated and should avoid highly strenuous activities.
Why Fast? The potential health benefits of fasting
- Weight-loss – Perhaps the most common reason so many are turning to intermittent fasting, and one of the most recognised effects, is its contribution to weight loss. When you haven’t eaten for some time, your insulin levels drop, and the body starts drawing on energy from stored fats, rather than blood sugar. Short-term fasting also increases your metabolic rate, helping you burn even more calories. A review of the scientific literature in 2014 indicated that over 3 – 24 weeks, an intermittent fasting plan could cause weight loss of 3 – 8%.
- Disease prevention – As Dr Ohsumi showed us, when the body is in a fasted state, it triggers autophagy, which various studies in animals have indicated could help protect against diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's.
Intermittent fasting has been linked to reductions in risk factors associated with an array of cardiovascular, neurological and other health conditions: factors like increased blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, inflammation, raised blood sugar levels and blood triglycerides (a type of fat in our blood associated with heart disease). And, as we’ve seen, intermittent fasting is an effective way to lose the excess weight and abdominal fat that we know can increase risks of conditions like diabetes or asthma.
- Brain health – recent studies have found evidence that, as well as potentially reducing the risks of inflammation and neurological diseases, fasting could contribute to brain health more actively by stimulating the growth of neurons in the brain, boosting memory, and increasing levels of certain brain hormones, which, if lacking, are associated with depression and other neurological conditions.
- Live longer, look younger? Alongside reducing risks of diseases that could cut our lives short, the cell regeneration inherent in autophagy could help to slow age-related degeneration of cells, and so have positive effects on healthspan (your length of healthy life) and the condition of your skin. Research also indicates that intermittent fasting could enhance resistance to oxidative stress – where the body produces free radicals at a greater speed than it can use antioxidants to detoxify them – which has been found to cause numerous skin (and indeed other health) problems.
Mother Nature’s Recipe
That’s quite a list of benefits, huh?
But even if intermittent fasting isn’t for you, or if you are fasting but just want to boost the results, there are a number of natural products that have been linked to a number of the same potential health benefits as fasting.
But they might not be the sort of things you’d expect.
So, for Cumberbatch, Kimmel and Knowles, now read coffee, ketone (the raspberry kind) and knotweed …
Coffee and Ketone
Green coffee extract contains compounds known as chlorogenic acids. Some believe these compounds have antioxidant effects, help lower blood pressure, and – whether you fast or not – help you lose weight (by the way, “green” means unroasted, so I’m afraid you won’t get the same benefits from that Grande Caramel Latte!)
Raspberry ketone – the primary aromatic compound of red raspberries – meanwhile, has been found to regulate adiponectin, a protein used by the body to regulate metabolism. This causes the fat within your cells to get broken up more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster and boosting your weight-loss efforts. (Again, I hate to disappoint you, but eating a handful of raspberries won’t cut it – to get the same benefit as the ketone from the whole fruit, you'd have to eat 90 pounds of them!)
A great source of both green coffee extract and raspberry ketone are Body Beauty’s 5 Days Slimming Coffee Capsules, which can reduce appetite and promote fat loss and lower cellulite deposits. The capsules also contain a range of other natural ingredients which could help stimulate weight loss, including green tea extract, Garcinia-cambogia extract and bitter orange powder. Best of all, these ingredients can be found in our Body Beauty Plus Slimming Capsules!
Knot just a weed
Type Japanese Knotweed into Google and you’ll see… well, in truth, you’ll see links to hundreds of angry gardeners complaining about the cost of ridding it from their garden… but get beyond those and you’ll see something far more interesting.
That is, that Japanese Knotweed Extract, also known as Resveratrol, has a whole bunch of health benefits. It acts as a powerful antioxidant, specifically targeting the free radicals linked to many types of cell and system damage and fights the toxins that act on the face and body to make them look and feel older. Trans-Resveratrol (the kind in Japanese Knotweed Extract) has also been said to help reverse the DNA damage linked to many skin problems that we think of as a natural result of aging, but which are actually caused by oxidative stress (on top of the many other risks of oxidative stress we’ve already talked about). What’s more, by pushing cells to produce energy for longer stretches of time, extending their lives – Resveratrol could help the fight against aging, both internally and externally.
But Resveratrol isn’t only found in Japanese Knotweed: other sources include red wine extract – which contains a variant of resveratrol that acts as an especially powerful antioxidant – and grape seed extract – which can help keep your skin radiant and wrinkle-free by neutralizing certain effects of sun exposure and protecting the skin’s natural stores of collagen. Indeed, the skin-preserving antioxidant power in grape seeds is 20 times stronger than vitamin E and 50 times stronger than vitamin C. And there’s more: these forms of Resveratrol are the only proven nutritional answer to the healthier mitochondria (known as “the power generators of the cell”) that can help increase your metabolism and boost your energy levels.
Beauty experts Relumins have certainly taken note. They’ve included all three sources of Resveratrol in their Resveratrol Reverse R3 capsules – available to buy now from Flawless Beauty & Skin – resulting in a powerful combination and provides visible improvement to skin in as little as 2 to 4 weeks.
So whether it’s “5:2”, “18/6” or R3, isn’t it time you tried the fast, natural road to a slimmer, healthier you?