Intermittent fasting (IF) is a dietary approach that has become increasingly popular in recent years and seems to be all the rage right now. But what exactly is IF, and why is it so popular?
Intermittent fasting involves abstaining from calorie-containing food and beverage for a minimum of twelve consecutive hours. There are several ways of intermittent fasting which are determined by the duration of the timeframe in which food is consumed, and the timeframe in which food is avoided. During the “feeding window”, the person can consume food and beverages ad libitum, which means without restrictions. However that being said, it is still important to make healthy choices to ensure you meet your nutritional requirements. The fasting time can vary and can be cycled for optimal results. Below are some examples of IF:
Time-restricted eating(TRE) : the feeding window is 4 to 12 hours every day, followed by a fasting window for the remainder of the day when only water, bone broth, or black coffee is permitted. Depending which IF coach or health practitioner you speak to, some recommend only water during a fast. The most common variation of time restricted eating is 16/8, which involves 16 consecutive hours of fasting per day followed by 8 hours to eat. Some choose 12/12, others 20/4.
Alternate day fasting (ADF) : involves alternating one day of unrestricted eating with one day of complete fasting. Again, keeping in mind that on eating days, a wholesome diet is consumed.
Periodic fasting : fasting for one or two days per week with 5 or 6 days of eating as desired. Variations of periodic fasting include 5:2 and 6:1 fasting.
Health Benefits Associated with Intermittent Fasting
- Weight and body fat loss
- Increased fat burning
- Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels
- Possibly reversal of type 2 diabetes
- Improved mental clarity and concentration
- Increased energy
- Possibly an improved blood cholesterol profile
- Activation of cellular cleansing (Autophagy)
- Reduction of inflammation
How does IF work?
Your body’s number one source of fuel is carbohydrates. During the digestive process, carbohydrates break down into a simple sugar called glucose. Glucose is stored in the body in your muscles and liver for future energy demands when carbohydrate intake is low or blood sugar levels dip. The idea behind IF is that during a fast, the glucose reserves in the liver and muscles deplete, giving the body no choice but to use fat as a secondary source of fuel or energy. This is referred to as “metabolic switching”.
Is intermittent fasting safe?
Some people try intermittent fasting for weight management, and others use the method to address chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and cholesterol. But intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone.
If you are under medical supervision for any condition, it is best to consult with your health care practitioner before trying Intermittent Fasting. Some people should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems, they can but with close medical supervision
- Those with a history of eating disorders
- Those who suffer from adrenal fatigue
It is important to keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people.
If you are thinking of trying intermittent fasting please consult your primary care provider, to ensure it’s right for you.
Blog Written by: Kacia Mongeau