Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
This time of year, you are likely overwhelmed by all the different quick-fix diets and everyone is trying to tell you what the best diet is for you. One trend you may have heard about recently is intermittent fasting. While this may be new for some, fasting has been around for thousands of years for health and religious reasons. Intermittent fasting has recently gotten more attention due to the promising early science for preventative and adjunct therapy in cancer1, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, improved gut health and several neuropsychiatric diseases.
Intermittent fasting is essentially time-restricted eating in which you eat all your calories for the day within an eight to twelve hour window. There are several other strategies for fasting, but the 16-hour fast/8-hour eating window is the most studied. Treating the body to an extending fast allows the gut to rest and repair without having to digest food.
Just like when starting a new exercise program, our muscles need proper rest to progress and function at their highest level. As a result of this rest and recovery, many people report improved digestion, less bloating, more restful sleep, improved skin health/less acne, and even improved anxiety.
If you are new to fasting, start with a twelve-hour eating window and slowly work towards an eight-hour window. You can even start with just two or three days per week instead of daily, if you find this difficult to accomplish with your currently lifestyle. Whatever eating/fasting window you choose, always be sure to stay hydrated with unsweetened, beverages like water, unsweetened tea, or black coffee. Any sugar in your beverage will end your fast.
The only macronutrient that will not break your fast is fat. If you are feeling hungry during your fast, you can have a small amount of health fat. For example, blending hot tea or coffee with organic coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or organic ghee to make a latte would be a good choice.
One point that is extremely important with intermittent fasting is: this is not a calorie-restricted diet and this is simply not skipping breakfast.
It is very important to get adequate calories during your eating window to not only make your fast period more comfortable, but to ensure your body has proper fuel and micronutrients to do all of the repair work that happens while fasting. Remember: it is not what you do on any given day, it is what you do over time that counts, so be sure to choose nutrient-dense foods and get what you need for your health.
Like any dietary approach, intermittent fasting may not be right for you, if you have a history of an eating disorder, or have medications that need to be taken a specific time with food, have just recently been on a restrictive diet, or have a history of hypoglycemia. Starting with a twelve hour fast is generally safe for most people, but talk with your functional medicine provider for personalized advice on fasting.
If you think intermittent fasting is a safe approach for you, but you would like extra support and a personalized plan, call and schedule an appointment today with our dietitian.
1. Mindikoglu, A. L., Abdulsada, M. M., Jain, A., Choi, J. M., Jalal, P. K., Devaraj, S., … Jung, S. Y. (2020). Intermittent fasting from dawn to sunset for 30 consecutive days is associated with anticancer proteomic signature and upregulates key regulatory proteins of glucose and lipid metabolism, circadian clock, DNA repair, cytoskeleton remodeling, immune system and cognitive function in healthy subjects. Journal of Proteomics, 103645. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2020.103645