Intermittent fasting is a hot topic these days, even though it's been around for centuries. Being such a health junkie, I had to look into the research to see why it is making so many headlines and if it is something I should be using as a standard practice in my quest for optimal health. While diving into the research, testing and experiencing the benefits, I learned that there are several reasons anyone who is looking to boost work performance should consider Intermittent Fasting.
Let's start by defining what Intermittent Fasting is...
Intermittent fasting (often referred to as IF) is best described as a pattern of eating where you will be in one of two states: Feeding or Fasting. There are various ways to intermittent fast, my chosen ratio is 16:8. So therefore, I am fasting for 16 hours of the day and consuming all of my calories within the 8 hour window. Pending your goals, you don't have to restrict calories or change what you are eating (I can hear your sigh of relief)!
Although many people look into IF to lose weight, I was most interested in the health benefits, such as disease prevention by reducing inflammation, longevity of life, energy...and, well, more energy! My husband and I are outnumbered by our children (severely) and we are both on a mission to do great work while making an impact in our community... so, yes, energy is at the top of the priority list!
Here are the 5 Ways Intermittent Fasting Can Boost Work Performance:
#1 Produce More Brain Cells
Fasting has been shown to increase rates of neurogenesis in the brain. In other words... produce new brain cells & nerve tissues. The more neurogenesis being performed, the more we can increase brain performance, memory, focus and improve our mood. All of which are key for quality and better work performance. Dr. Mark Mattson, a professor of Neurology at John Hopkins University, has done great work in this area. Start with him to learn more.
#2 Boosts Production of "Miracle Grow For Your Brain"
Intermittent Fasting is known to boost the production of a hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor - or BDNF for short. It is often referred to as Miracle Grow For Your Brain. Without getting too into the weeds, pun intended, BDNF has been shown to play a role in neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to continue to change and adapt. Your brain will become more resilient to stress and more adaptable to change with higher levels of BDNF. More Miracle Grow Please!
#3 Boosts Human Growth Hormone
Get the image of a bodybuilder out of your head to start. Our bodies naturally produce Human Growth Hormone, also known as HGH. However, several factors can reduce the production of this important hormone, including age. HGH has been known to be a powerful anti-aging and longevity hormone, which is also known to improve cognition, provide neuroprotection, and increase neurogenesis. So it's important.
One study in particular showed that HGH had a neuroprotective effect, preserving your brain health and brain performance. [R] The way I process this (remember, I work at a CPA firm and am not a health expert... just health conscious) is that #1 and #2 are helping to grow the brain, HGH is helping to grow & preserve it! Let's preserve those precious brains of ours.
#4 Burns Fat for Fuel Instead of Sugar
I'm sure you are scratching your head on this one. Shockingly, fat is a better and cleaner source of fuel than carbohydrates. Not only does fat produce more energy per gram than carbohydrates do, but it also produces less free radicals, which cause inflammation.
Breaking it down, to make energy your cells mitochondria (think batteries for your cells) will burn the carbohydrates or fat. The byproduct is free radicals. Why is this important? Those free radicals cause oxidative stress to the body and are thought to be the cause of many chronic diseases we face today, including many neurodegenerative diseases. Intermittent fasting is one of the quickest ways for your body to burn fat stores vs. carbohydrate stores for energy. Cleaner energy... less disease... check.
#5 Increases Energy
Intermittent Fasting has been shown to boost mitochondrial biogenesis, put more simply, create new mitochondria. As we mentioned earlier, this is much like a battery. If you add more battery power, the result will be more burning of your fuel. Which is the source of your energy!
The more mitochondria you have in your brain, the more brain power you will have. In this world of increased responsibilities, tighter deadlines and demanding families (or is that just mine?), this one is at the top of the list for me. [R]
After the research, personally I was highly intrigued to produce more brain cells, add "Miracle Grow," boost naturally occurring HGH, burn fat for fuel and increase my energy. Although this short summary doesn't do the amount of knowledge I consumed justice, there are several resource links [R] for you to review. If you don't want to bore yourself with those and are intrigued enough to give it a go, James Clear wrote an incredible article diving into the details without over complicating things. He has created an Intermittent Fasting Quick Start Guide that you can download, which I found to be valuable when getting started.
Cheers to Intermittent Fasting and Boosted Work Performance!
Feel free to reach out to us in regards to anything in this blog! We'd love to hear your thoughts and opinions below!