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What's this Intermittent Fasting and is it for me?

Like the Keto diet, this is another dietary topic of the moment. People are wondering if some level of fasting might help them lose weight or improve their wellness in other ways. There are a few different ways to do the fasting, depending on your individual biology. Intermittent Fasting (IF) can be helpful in some ways and there are also precautions and limitations to doing it.

IF is actually an eating pattern that doesn’t necessarily take into account food choices but rather the timing of meals. It’s basically involves only eating for a certain number of hours per day (hours on) and avoiding eating for the rest of the day (hours off). Some examples are 16 hours off/8 hours on, 12 hours off/12 hours on. Some people will fast for 24 hours, several times a week. Another way to do it is to only eat 500 calories several times a week.

The biggest benefit of IF is weight loss. Fasting causes changes in hormone levels that increase your metabolism which aids in weight loss. This also includes a reduction in fat around the waistline, which is know to be harmful. IF causes our insulin levels to go down which allows the body to burn fat cells. Of course if done correctly, fasting also reduces the number of calories we eat which aids in weight loss. While studies are still being done, early indications are that IF can also prevent Type 2 Diabetes, reduce inflammation, lower LDL (bad cholesterol), triglyceride and blood pressure levels. There is some early evidence that it may create changes in the brain that could prevent Alzheimers. It is also beneficial to our digestive systems to give them a rest, allowing time for cellular repair.

There are definitely situations where fasting is contraindicated. Anyone pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding should not do IF, nor should children or teens. Anyone who is underweight or has a history of eating disorders should avoid it as well. If you have diabetes or blood sugar regulation issues, work with a dietitian before trying IF. There is some indication that women should be more careful with IF than men, as it can cause changes in menstrual cycles.

I have noticed that some people do well with the varieties of intermittent fasting, losing weight and feeling an increase in energy. Some clients do have issues with feeling “shaky”, most likely due to low blood sugar, if they have fasted for any length of time. As always, we are all so different, it’s impossible to suggest one way of doing things for everyone. One protocol that seems sensible to me is to try out Intermittent Fasting by doing “12 on and 12 off”. You would have your dinner at 6 or 7 in the evening, then don’t eat again until breakfast the next morning and see how you feel. If you would like to discuss this, don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consult!!

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