Intermittent Fasting: What You Need to Know
Someone brings up intermittent fasting at a party or event, and you start searching for something to contribute to the conversation. You’ve heard of it, you might have even tried it, but do you really understand it?
Is it for weight loss? Is it for health benefits? Do you have to do it every day? Is it safe?
I’ve heard from my online clients and office patients alike that they have many questions regarding this new way of eating. Now is the time to clear up the confusion around intermittent fasting (IF) and to offer some helpful information so you can determine if this is a practice that might fit into your wellness plan.
It’s all about when you eat, not about what you eat…
You can try intermittent fasting in a variety of ways, but the most popular method is to eat within a certain window and then stop eating for anywhere between 12 and 16 hours.
Even though that might seem like a long time, think about this helpful fact: You’re asleep for much of that fasting time, especially if you start after dinner and fast until lunchtime.
Personally, I find the process a very easy one because I’m not a breakfast lover, so waiting a few hours to eat isn’t difficult. In fact, not eating in the morning comes rather naturally to me. However, if you must have food in the morning, you might want to eat an early dinner or just stick to 12 hours of fasting, drinking only plain water, tea, or coffee in the meantime.
Here’s an example of how intermittent fasting might work in your schedule:
If you end your dinner at 7 p.m., you would only have to fast until 7 a.m. or to 11 a.m., depending on the timeframe you choose.
You can select from many options (timeframe, days of the week, etc.) how be successful at intermittent fasting, so you should be able to find one way of doing things that fits into your lifestyle comfortably. You don’t have to fast daily, either, because even just a few days a week can produce healthful benefits, as long as you’re eating within an eight to 12-hour window. Most of the time, this schedule results in eating less food throughout the day. And while the first week of intermittent fasting appears to be the most challenging, after that initial introduction, people have reported that cravings and sugar-related mood swings often diminish. The practice just becomes easier over time.
So, what’s in it for you?
Studies are showing that intermittent fasting might:
- Enhance digestion and lead to lower inflammation–help your gut flora and balance the microbiome
- Lower blood sugar levels—help blood sugar become more stable and even possibly lessen insulin requirements for those with diabetes
- Benefit brain health—help you achieve more clarity and better focus
- Increase energy—we all need more of this!
- Reduce blood pressure—effects on the heart are now being researched
- Stabilize weight—it’s a lifestyle shift, not a diet
How is that for health-promoting reasons to give it a try, even for a short time? And while no real food restrictions are set for during the eating window, healthful choices would be an important consideration.
Does the thought of fasting sound scary?
Not eating for long periods of time might seem drastic, uncomfortable, or unhealthy, although our bodies are very capable of producing energy from stored reserves. Fasting actually offers our bodies time to heal and reset. At the same time, fasting also contributes to a natural process called autophagy, the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, and in turn regenerating new, healthier cells.
Intermittent fasting is being researched daily, so continue to educate yourself, and read what the experts are finding out and do what works best for you.
Check with your doctor before beginning any major change to your diet or health plan. And be sure you inquire about supplements or vitamins to aid you in the process.
Caution! Spoiler Alert:
It’s important to know from the start that there are groups of people who should not try intermittent fasting:
- children or teens
- people who are underweight
- people who have an eating disorder, are easily triggered , and/ or have a binge issue.
- people taking medications or dealing with a chronic health issue
- women who are pregnant or nursing
If you want to chat more about intermittent fasting or your health plan in general, don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll gladly offer practical advice to determine how intermittent fasting can fit into your schedule. I’m here to help you try to incorporate this way of eating into your lifestyle if it’s appropriate for you.