Intermittent fasting is a broad term that covers a wide variety of eating schedules. In its simplest form, intermittent fasting will reduce the total amount of calories consumed. This can be done either a few days a week, every other day, or even daily. Regardless of the schedule, many positive changes can happen when correctly implementing intermittent fasting.
The 5:2 fasting schedule was originally recommended by Dr. Michael Mosley in his book The Fast Diet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting. This schedule’s suggestion is to eat normally five days a week, and fast for the other two. On fasting days, the recommendation is to limit your normal calorie intake to about one-fourth of a normal day’s worth of calories, along with plenty of water.
Alternate-day fasting is another common form of time-restricted eating. This protocol is exactly as it sounds: one day off, one day on. The “off” days follow similar rules to the 5:2 plan, in that calorie intake is limited to about one-fourth of a normal day. Following this technique can initially be tough for many people to follow, as fasting times can last up to 32-36 hours on fasting days. This often results in going to bed and waking up hungry.
A third version of intermittent fasting is to restrict daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight-hour window. For example, someone following this technique would wait till about noon for their first meal, and eat a second meal around 8 pm, with some healthy snacking in between. From 8 pm until noon the next day would be the fasting period. During this daily fasting window, your body will metabolize through the food you have eaten, and shift toward burning body fat for energy.
Turning your body into a fat-burning machine, often resulting in weight loss, is not the only advantage of intermittent fasting. Other health benefits include lowering inflammation, improving blood sugar levels, reducing blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, reducing LDL and normalizing total cholesterol and improving pancreatic function. These changes obviously lead to short-term positive changes such as weight loss, but the greatest benefits come from their effects on chronic disease. Heart disease, certain forms of cancer, and even cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease have been shown to improve from intermittent fasting.
While the benefits may be great for certain people, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. For individuals who are hypoglycemic or diabetic, intermittent fasting should be avoided until blood sugar levels have normalized. Also, pregnant or nursing mothers should also avoid this type of eating schedule. It is always important to consult your doctor or another health professional when considering making any big changes to your diet or eating habits. If you’ve been considering intermittent fasting, feel free to give us a call and we can answer any specific questions you may have!
Yours in Health, Dr. Alex
Project Wellness Company, Madison WI