To Fast or to Feast: Intermittent Fasting and Ayurveda

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intermittent fasting

I grew up being told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. My mom ensured that each day I went off to school with a full stomach, ready to power my brain. As I became more interested in nutrition, I observed fitness and nutrition influencers sharing recipes for a morning meal guaranteed to light your metabolism. However, in the past few years, the concept of intermittent fasting has become more mainstream. We answer the questions on Intermittent Fasting in this article, “To Fast, or to Feast: Intermittent Fasting and Ayurveda”. While the concept of fasting is not new,  Intermittent Fasting is certainly trending in the health and wellness space.

To Fast or to Feast: Intermittent Fasting and Ayurveda – Q&A to guide you

What is intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting doesn’t mean skipping breakfast. Instead, it means eating food within a 6-8-hour window. As a result, depending on when you start eating, there is an 8-15 hour fast in between your last meal of the day and your first meal of the next. Some people do skip breakfast and eat from 12 p.m.- 6 or 8 p.m., others eat breakfast at 8 a.m., but have their last meal at 4 p.m., and so on.

Why fast?

There are many reasons people choose to fast. Some research provides evidence that it increases fat burning, can help with those who are highly insulin sensitive, can help hormone functions, and can improve sleep. All of these benefits result from the fact that resting and digesting are opposites in the body. When our body isn’t taxed with the task of digesting food, it is able to repair it. This research that supports intermittent fasting is just as good as any research, in that it is limited by the participants who have been studied. These benefits may apply to many people: men, those with PCOS or extra estrogen, those with autoimmune diseases and neurological disorders, and more.

YouVeda’s My Healthy Digestion is an excellent choice to support digestive, liver and kidney health.

… So, breakfast definitely is no longer the most important meal of the day, then?

Not exactly. Skipping meals is not a new concept. Fasting has been practiced for spiritual and physical purposes for hundreds of years. Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine which many of YouVeda’s philosophies are based upon, has encouraged fasting to strengthen Agni or our digestive fire. Ayurveda categorizes individuals by doshas or mind-body types. The doshas are based on the five elements of Earth: air, water, ether, fire, and earth. Vata reflects air and water; Pitta reflects fire and water, and Kapha reflects earth and water. Fasting is particularly beneficial for Kapha body types, who do have a slower digestive system and a harder time losing weight. However, although Kapha people may benefit from eating two meals per day and Pitta and Vata people may benefit from occasional fasting, this practice is not recommended for everyone.

Who Should Avoid Fasting

Those with Vata imbalances already have light, airy characteristics. Vata is wind energy. Opposed to Kapha, they are missing grounding qualities. Therefore, Vatas are encouraged to established routine patterns in all areas of their lives, including mealtime. Additionally, it is common for Vata women to experience Ammenhorea (loss of a menstrual cycle). In simplistic terms, women’s hormones are more complicated than men’s. While men are designed to be able to hunt and gather and go without food, the female hormone system is designed to recreate life. As a result, while men can fast for longer stretches, women’s hormones require nourishment. This is not to say that women can’t benefit from intermittent fasting at all and need to have a feast every morning. However, it is to say that trends and the research that supports it,  do not apply to everyone.

As someone who tries to practice mindfulness, I hope this encourages you to tap into your own intuition. While research and current fads may be supported with thorough evidence, allow the experience in your body to guide your decisions. The beauty of the Ayurvedic perspective to health is that it recognizes that there is no “one size fits all” uniform for health. Understanding your unique constitution can help you understand whether fasting—or any wellness practice—can benefit you. If fasting is for you, take advantage of Fitness volt fasting calculator, check it out

Author – Marissa Cohen (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)

To further help support your digestion and intermittent fasting plan, try YouVeda’s My Healthy Digestion to support digestive, liver and kidney health.

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