Sometimes, when the movie marathon goes late into the night and you’ve been eating popcorn the whole way through, you might wake up the next day feeling like you have a coating of oil on your skin. We know what we eat impacts our skin, but what about when we eat? Fing how inermittent fasting can impact your skin.
What is intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting has been a bit of a buzzword of late, but what does it actually mean? You might hear fasting and picture days with just water, but it’s not that scary at all. Inermittent fasting is actually just the practice of limiting when you eat to a certain window of time.
The idea is, if you only eat during certain hours, your overall caloric intake is lower as a result. Instead of relying on glucose stores for energy, your body has to utilize the ketone bodies and fat stores.
There are several different approaches to inermittent fasting, all of which focus on the same idea of eating only at certain times.
- Alternate day fasting: Eat only every other day, either fasting completely on off days or consuming around 500 calories. The non-fasting days have no restrictions, but remember to eat healthy foods and not binge to compensate.
- The Warrior Diet: Fruits and veggies during the day followed by one large meal at night.
- 16/8 Fasting OR Time Restricted Feeding: Fast for 16 hours and eat for 8. You can section this off however you like, typically people eat their first meal around 11 a.m. and then refrain from any snacks after 7 p.m.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Pick one or two days out of the week and fast for the entire 24 hours, and eat a normal caloric intake on the other days.
- 5:2 Diet: Eat normally five days out of the week and limit yourself to 500-600 calories on the other two days.
Inermittent fasting, also known as cyclic fasting, is a popular weight loss tactic. However, the effects of this way of eating can also be beneficial for your skin.
How it helps your skin
Many of the benefits that help people lose weight through intermittent fasting can also help you achieve healthier skin. There are two main things that happen in your body as a result of fasting.
- Lowered levels of oxidative stress sent to cells throughout the body
- Improves your body’s ability to deal with stress at a cellular level
These two benefits directly impact your skin, as less stress means less stress induced breakouts and inflammation. But let’s break down the other benefits of intermittent fasting that can prevent breakouts.
Blood Glucose Levels
Fasting can regulate your blood glucose levels which directly impacts skin health. When blood sugar is too high it can cause dry skin and collagen damage.
Collagen is that protein in your skin that gives it lift and bounce. Collagen needs sugar to produce properly, but too much sugar can cause what is known as glycation. Glycation happens when the collagen is forced to use the wrong kind of sugar. These sugars can eventually turn into advanced glycation endproducts or AGEs. A fitting acronym, since AGEs cause tissues to stiffen which promotes the appearance of skin ageing.
So blood sugar is pretty important. Fasting can regulate your insulin levels which are responsible for transporting glucose to the cells from the bloodstream. Other healthy side effects of this glucose balance include increased energy, weight loss, and reduced symptoms of diabetes.
One of the reasons this diet is so effective is because your body is programmed to respond to schedules. One you might be familiar with is your circadian rhythm, an attribute of your sleep schedule.
Your circadian rhythm is a function of the environment. Basically you sleep when it is dark out and you are awake when it’s light and your body likes this. More importantly, those sleeping hours are when your body does maintenance. When you are asleep, your body is relaxed which means energy that would go to other daytime functions can now be devoted to other systems.
One of these maintenance items is fighting inflammation. Sleep is when your body finally gets a chance to process all the fuel you’ve given it throughout the day. Without this process time, the body has to respond with inflammation causing cells that can lead to deeper gut issues that will show up on your skin.
Intermittent fasting can fight this by putting your food intake on a schedule that aligns better with your circadian rhythms that help your body regulate inflammation more efficiently.
We touched on this a little before, but gut health is a direct link to skin health. A stressed and leaky gut will lead to stressed and inflamed skin. Just like getting enough sleep, giving your stomach and digestive system enough time to process food can benefit your gut health by helping with the replenishment of good gut bacteria.
If you feel constantly bloated or like you’re not digesting your food, you may be right. Intermittent fasting allows your body ample time to digest without new food coming in and halting the process.
Best Way to Fast
The best way to fast depends on your schedule and how you naturally tend to eat. The schedule that is most effective for you is the one that is least stressful, because stressing over your eating habits is exactly what we don’t want to do.
For beginners, the easiest method is the 16/8 fast. If you eat a late breakfast and then stop snacking after dinner, you naturally fast for 16 hours each night. This method has the majority of the fasting happening while you sleep, which is ideal for beginners because you don’t have to focus on it.
Unlike other “diets”, intermittent fasting isn’t a change in what you are eating but how you are eating. With adapted hours, you can enjoy what you eat without caloric amounts being at the forefront of your mind.
That being said, intermittent fasting is not an excuse to pig out for five days and starve for two. For the healthiest, most effective results, eat well rounded meals of organic healthful foods. Keeping your body and skin healthy is a sum of several parts, so make sure all the parts are ones you’re proud of.