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What's the deal with Intermittent Fasting?

Metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are part of an international health crisis which researchers are diligently working to solve. Recently, intermittent fasting has gained popularity among researchers and the American public alike as a possible solution or at least a piece of the puzzle of metabolic disease. Fasting began its popular rise in 2012 with the documentary Eat Fast, Live Longer, as well as The 5:2 Diet book and 2016 bestseller The Obesity Code.

It’s important to note that fasting has historic and cultural origins as a part of and even predating modern religions. Until the invention of electricity, most humans were awake, moving, and eating exclusively during the day and sleeping at night. Although having lights certainly is convenient, many studies report that eating during a restricted window of daytime hours is better for the digestive system. For example, metabolism is higher and the stomach has better blood flow and ability to empty itself during the day. Some studies have also reported that longer resting of the digestive system between meals helps improve bacterial balance and decrease inflammation. It is also thought that using time-restricted feeding patterns may help reset metabolism and weight regulation by restoring a daytime rhythm.

The most studied approaches to intermittent fasting are among 3 types:

  1. Restricting calories by 25% for two days in a row and limiting food intake to an 8 hour window (ie 7am to 3pm or 10am to 6pm).
  2. Performing a 60-70% calorie reduction on alternating days
  3. Performing a fast with only 25% calorie consumption or less on alternating days

The benefits of intermittent fasting may include:

  • Weight Loss (often greater than with classic dieting)
  • Improvements in insulin tolerance (helpful for diabetes)
  • Binge Prevention (since normal calorie intake is allowed on non-fasting days, study participants were less likely to overeat than they were when under daily calorie restriction associated with classic dieting)
  • Lower likelihood of diet-induced stress hormone (cortisol) spikes
  • Minimization of the fatigue that can be caused by longer fasts
  • Decreased risk of weight loss resistance (adaptation of the body to a lower calorie state and prevention of further weight loss, the “weight loss plateau”)
  • Better memory and decreased risk of chronic diseases

Tips for success:

  • Eating a healthy, plant-based diet on non-fasting days
  • Let go of snacks and allow the digestive system to rest for several hours between meals
  • Exercise! (It helps with weight loss and improves digestion as well)

It’s important to note that fasting does not mean that you can binge on high fat, high-calorie foods such as hamburgers, french fries, and cake on non-fasting days; it’s still important to maintain a healthy diet which is primarily plant-based and supplemented with lean protein and healthy fats.

In contrast, numerous studies of night shift workers have suggested that eating at night may disrupt normal sleep patterns and be associated with eating more of high-calorie foods, as well as increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

You should avoid intermittent fasting if:

  • You are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are under the age of 18.
  • You have a tendency to severely limit your food (anorexia, bulimia, chronic dieting).
  • You take medications which require food intake or diuretics (“water pills”) for blood pressure or heart disease (fasting may make you more likely to experience electrolyte/salt imbalances).
  • Consult your medical doctor prior to using intermittent fasting if you have Type II Diabetes Mellitus

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5371748/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20921964/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23591120/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6128599/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26586092/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3680567/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4516560/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413118302535

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/intermittent-fasting/

https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30836132

Disclaimer: Information presented in this video and on this page is for educational purposes only and is in no way intended as medical advice, as a substitute for medical counseling or treatment, or cure for any medical condition, nor should it be treated as such. You should always consult a licensed healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, vitamins, prescription drugs, or exercise levels. the viewer assumes all risks of the use, non-use or misuse of this information. Dr. Chelsea Drda, D.C. and Atlanta Natural Health Clinic are not responsible for misuse of this information, even if this disclaimer is not read or if content is shared with other users or on other platforms without this disclaimer.

2 Join the Conversation

  1. salah chin says
    Mar 19, 2019 at 2:32 PM

    Hi Doc am doing this intermittent fast ...gave up soft drinks ...drinking a lot of water ...BUT still haven't dropped to much...but people i know doing it are skinny ...:(...I WORK OUT 3 TO 4 DAYS.. and i only lost 11/2 pounds ...not sure what am doing wrong..but am going to try with the carbs...i like crackers....lol

    • mrslisaengle@gmail.com says
      Apr 24, 2019 at 5:02 PM

      Hi Salah, If you haven't yet seen the changes you are looking for, we recommend speaking with a healthcare provider. One option is the Nutrition Response Testing that Dr. Hurd performs in our office, or you certainly also could consult with a naturopath or holistic MD for a nutritional consult. Resistant weight can be related to a large number of factors including toxicity level, food sensitivities, parasites, viruses, and more.

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