There are times when many of us have wanted to change up our routine to be healthier. Fad diets have come and gone over the years, making it hard to know the best way to fuel the body. Most recently, intermittent fasting has become popular. It’s seemingly more of a schedule than it is a diet, it focuses on when to eat rather than what to eat³ (given that eating whole, healthy foods is key to maintaining good health). Changing the relationship with food can be stressful and uncomfortable. Intermittent fasting can be done in several ways, allowing the flexibility to ease into change.
What exactly is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting¹ is a regimen in which someone eats for a certain number of hours and then fast for a set number of hours. In doing so, the body has more time to digest, allowing for the burning of stored fat. There are many different ways to do IF, but it’s always important to talk to your primary care provider before adjusting your current nutrition plan.
What are the Health benefits?
There are many ways that intermittent fasting can help your body, whether you’re trying to lose weight or create a more balanced relationship with food and overall wellness. In terms of general weight loss benefits, fasting plus exercise can be beneficial in lowering the risk of obesity-related ailments such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and even Cancer. In people with health issues such as Alzheimer's disease, asthma, and MS, IF can help relieve symptoms by supporting the body in fighting inflammation². When a person has been fasting for a sustained period, the “metabolic switch” happens. The metabolic switch is when the body switches its energy source from breaking down glycogen to glucose to breaking down the stored fat in the form of lipids for energy. This can benefit the body’s quality of energy and support fat loss. It can also increase ketones which are a vital brain fuel. Increased ketone levels stimulate neurons² in the brain which can allow for mental clarity and focus.
What can you consume while fasting?
First and foremost, make sure to drink water as it is important to stay hydrated during a fast. Coffee and tea (without added milk and sugar) or 1-2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar can help satisfy and curb cravings. Bone broth can also be a great addition that provides electrolytes and protein to replenish the body. When easing back into eating solid foods, juicing can awaken the digestive system as a slow introduction while also giving the body immediate nutrients.
Doing what’s best for you
Before making any major dietary change, please check with your primary care physician. Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone and should be avoided by: people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people under 18 years old, people with diabetes or issues with blood sugar, or Anyone with a history of eating disorders. At the end of the day, it’s important to listen to your body and what it needs.
1. Frey, Rebecca J. “Intermittent Fasting.”Intermittent Fasting, Definition, Origins, Demographics, Description,https://reference.jrank.org/diets/Intermittent_Fasting.html#:~:text=Intermittent%20fasting%20as%20a%20dietary,extend%20the%20animals%27%20life%20spans
2. Gudden, Jip, et al. “The Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Brain and Cognitive Function.”Nutrients, MDPI, 10 Sept. 2021,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8470960/#:~:text=In%20addition%2C%20lower%20levels%20of,plasticity%2C%20and%20cellular%20stress%20resistance.
3. “Intermittent Fasting: What Is It, and How Does It Work?”Johns Hopkins Medicine, 7 Mar. 2022,https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/intermittent-fasting-what-is-it-and-how-does-it-work.
4. Mundi, Manpreet. “Is Intermittent Fasting Good for You?”Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Apr. 2020,https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/intermittent-fasting/faq-20441303.