In Part 1 of Demystifying Healthy Living The Art of Eating and the Science of a Healthy Body, we discussed the basics of fasting in general and intermittent fasting in particular. And we started discussing the methods of intermittent fasting.

In Part 2 of Demystifying Healthy Living The Art of Eating and the Science of a Healthy Body, we learnt the importance of intermittent fasting in our life, how we need to change our eating habits and busted some myths about snacking and low fat foods.

Let’s go further.

Intermittent fasting unveiled

When it comes to our eating habits, they are very deep rooted. Recipes are carried forward from one generation to another, secrets of introducing the right foods to a new born are passed from mother to mother.

These food habits vary culturally, geographically and socially. When the world became globalized, food was exchanged globally too.

At this point the real logic of eating, and the appropriate pairing food was lost. For example, all fruits are available throughout the year. But in nature, foods grow according to the season. In hot weather hydrating foods like melons, in cold weather apple, peach etc.

Earlier, people living in a highly humid climate tend to drink coconut water, but now people living in cold weather also drink coconut water, whether their body requires it or not. Instead of eating what is required, we eat what is convenient.

Intermittent fasting is what helps us to get out of this rut.

1. Is there something called too much water?

When it comes to drinking water, there are different schools of thoughts.

Drink 8 glasses a day or 3 liters a day.
Drink warm water or ice water.
You will find, everyone has a suggestion.

Also, there is something called Hyponatremia. It means water intoxication caused by drinking excessive amount of water in a short span (more than 0.8 to 1.0 liter of water within an hour).

So, the question is, how much water should we drink? Water consumption varies depending upon climate, type of food consumed, health issues, physical activity and so on. Also, our mind sends the same signals when we are hungry or thirsty.

  • Drink some water first when you feel hungry or thirsty.
  • Fruits like melon, watermelon and coconut water provide a lot of hydration. So drink water only when you are thirsty.
  • During winter or rainy season, we need less amount of fluids as we don’t sweat. So listen to your body.
  • Specially, those who eat low carb foods need more water intake to keep their electrolytes balanced.

Rule 6: Drink when hungry, Drink when thirsty

2. Drink your electrolytes during the fasting window.

Drinking too much water can leave you dehydrated, as every time you urinate or sweat you lose electrolytes.

So what are electrolytes?

An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water. All humans need electrolytes to survive. Many automatic processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function. Electrolytes in human body include: Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Bicarbonate, Chloride, Phosphate.

For those doing Intermittent Fasting, electrolytes are very important. You can drink them throughout your fasting window. You can easily buy a sugar free electrolyte drink or make at home as per your convenience.

Here’s a simple Recipe:

3 Liters filtered water
2 lemon or limes
0.5 tsp Organic Pink Salt
0.25 tsp Cream of Tartar
Grated ginger (Optional)
Mint Leaves, cucumber slices (Optional)

Electrolyte water has many benefits while taken during fasting window. It suppresses hunger, helps in low blood pressure, heart palpitations and headaches, prevents kidney stones, bleeding gums, spider veins, loss of collagen, nose bleeds, bruising and micro hemorrhaging and many more.

3. What’s all the fuss about Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple Cider Vinegar is basically acetic acid. It helps to balance pH of our blood. PH is a scale to measure acidity and alkalinity in any liquid.

From 1 to 7 on the pH scale is the acid range, 1 being more acid than 7. From 7 to 14 on the scale is the alkaline range; 7 is less alkaline than 14. On the pH scale, 7 is neutral, meaning optimum.

When we talk about ‘acid-forming’ and ‘alkaline-forming,’ we are looking at how much acid the stomach has to produce in order to digest the food. An orange, even though it is acidic outside the body, when we eat it, the stomach has to produce almost no acid. Therefore, oranges are ‘alkaline-forming’.

Apple cider vinegar is clearly acidic when sitting on your counter. But, inside your stomach, it becomes ‘alkaline-forming,’ because the stomach has to produce almost no acid to digest it.

Conversely, something like bread requires a lot of acid to digest, so it is considered to be ‘acid-forming’. So, if we are eating too many acid forming food, we can suffer from Acid Reflux, Indigestion (Gas), Bloating, Heartburn, Constipation, Gastritis, Candida, Headaches, Cramping, Arthritis, Twitching in eye, High BP and so on.

Many of the membranes in our body require an acid pH to protect us and to help us digest food. It has been suggested that an alkaline- forming diet may prevent a number of diseases and result in significant health benefits. Apple cider vinegar is a great remedy to maintain the alkalinity of our body. It helps in Mobilizing of calcium, Absorbing Minerals, Digesting protein better, Helps immune system, Protects against Cold and Fever, Viral Infections.

I recommend drinking Raw – unfiltered, organic apple cider (With ‘the mother’). You can drink it before every meal

Recipe:
1tbsp ACV
1 glass water
1/4 lemon
Grated ginger (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Warning
Drinking undiluted or large quantity of ACV can cause extreme diarrhea and nausea. Start with 1 tsp and slowly build up to 1 tbsp. Always drink diluted. ACV is an acid, and it can erode your teeth enamel. Use a straw while drinking lemon water or ACV.

4. Lunch – Dinner (Two Meals a day or TMAD)

Rule 7: 20/4 fasting. Which means eat within 4 hours and fast for 20 hours

Next and the most important step in Intermittent Fasting is to shrink our eating window to 4 to 6 hours. This means you will be fasting for 18 to 20 hours a day.

Well yes, it’s a long period. That’s why step 1 is important.

By slowly pushing your breakfast farther during the day you will be able to transition to two meals a day. For example, if you were eating breakfast at 10 am, now eat at 12 pm. This will be your first meal of the day. You can have your next meal at 4 pm, thus closing your eating window. There are no hard and fast rule about when to eat, so long as you eat within 4 hours.

By doing this we are not starving ourselves, but healing. In this stage you feel your cravings are gone or under control, your energy levels will be high, your metabolism will improve, inflammation will reduce and so on.

You can transition from three meal a day to two meal a day, slowly.

You can TMAD twice a week or more as you feel comfortable to manage in your routine. But for those who are trying to lose weight or are trying to heal themselves from diabetes, cholesterol or any other disease should consider it as a very important step.

The shorter your eating window, the more time your body will have to heal. When we are between 18 to 24 hours of fasting state our body sees greatest drop in insulin and increase in fat burning. This is the time when our body enters Autophagy.

5. One meal a day (OMAD)

The last step to intermittent fasting is to eat one meal a day, which can be either breakfast, lunch or dinner. This stage is practiced by people who want to heal themselves from hormonal imbalance, obesity, cancer and almost any disease. Autophagy is the most important benefit of intermittent fasting. So when you are fasting for more than 18 -24 hours, your body enters autophagy, which peaks around 36 hours.

You must be thinking, what is autophagy? This word literally means self-eating. It is a natural process where your cells eat up scraps of dead, diseased and worn out cells and use the resulting molecules for energy to make new cells. In simple terms body recycles its own cells, thus stopping cancerous growth, metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes, improving immunity and most important, slowing the aging process.

There have been studies suggesting that autophagy can lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Remember the old saying,

Eat food for living, don’t live for eating.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sheetal Arora is a Yoga Practitioner and a Pastry Chef. In her spare time, she’s either reading Dr. Brian Weiss or Paulo Coelho and experimenting with the chemistry of baking. She can be reached at yogawidsheetal[AT]gmail.com.

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