Extend Your Overnight Fast

With a new year and a new decade just two sleeps away, it’s natural to start thinking about ways to make a fresh start and improve one’s quality of life.  For many, that means a renewed commitment to healthy lifestyle choices like eating well, getting more exercise and possibly dropping a few pounds.  But there’s so much conflicting information in the media, it’s hard to know what is the best approach for weight loss.  And it starts from the moment we wake up; do we eat a healthy breakfast or is it better to hold off and lengthen the overnight fasting period?

For what seems like forever, we’ve been told that breakfast is the most important meal and will set the stage for healthy habits throughout the day.  But a number of recent studies have found that when it comes to weight loss, we might be better off waiting until mid-day to eat our first meal, giving our bodies more time to burn fat.   According to a recent Harvard Health Blog, intermittent fasting of at least 16 hours is associated with weight loss and better metabolism.  Fasting overnight also lowers blood sugar and insulin allowing the body to use fat as fuel, but eating breakfast halts that process and the body will use the food to power itself.

Sometimes we need a good breakfast, and for many, it’s their favorite meal of the day.  Don’t deny yourself a healthy breakfast that includes protein and fiber.  But if you are trying to lose weight, it might be worth considering just sticking to black coffee, unsweetened tea or water first thing in the morning and stretching out the overnight fast as long as possible.  Then enjoy a healthy lunch and dinner; avoiding any late-night meals or snacking.  

Intermittent fasting is also associated with greater longevity, according to a recent study by the National Institute on Aging.  Researchers found that on mice studied, health and longevity improved with increased fasting time, regardless of what the mice ate or how many calories were consumed.  An extended fasting time between 12 and 16 hours allows the body to repair and clear itself of waste, helping to reduce age-related metabolic conditions.  

Learn more about fasting diets and caloric restriction by following this link to the NIA Healthy Eating page.