What is Intermittent Fasting?
Updated: Mar 27
What is "Fasting"?
When you hear the word "fasting" plus "diet" in the same sentence, you probably think of a "fad" diet.
However, there is now more and more research suggesting that having some "super low-calorie days," or "fasting," mixed with a normal eating plan could improve your health.
The focus of Intermittent Fasting (IF) is on "when" to eat, not so much "what" to eat. That can be a problem depending on "what" you choose to eat. 🤔
What is Intermittent Fasting or IF?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a strategically planned and occasional "starvation." If you cycle periods of regular eating with fasting, you will severely restrict your calorie intake.
This is not a "one size fits all" approach to fasting. Some people will fast for hours. Some may choose to fast for a full day. Some may fast for even longer.
Why am I seeing Intermittent Fasting (IF) in the news?
There is a lot of "star ⭐️ power" to this diet from Hugh Jackman to Jimmy Kimmel, along with Beyoncé, Justin Theroux, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, and more.
How long does one fast with Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
One of the more commonly known fasting systems is the 5:2 diet. This means restricting calories for two non-consecutive days a week and eating without calorie restraints on the other five days. Jimmy Kimmel did the 5:2 diet.
5:2 means restricting calories for two non-consecutive days a week and eating without calorie restraints on the other five days
Hugh Jackman, to get in shape for his role as Wolverine in 2013, did a 16:8 diet. He fasted for 16 hours and then only ate within an 8-hour window.
16:8 means restricting calories for 16 hours a day and eating without calorie restraints during the other 8 hours
Does Intermittent Fasting improve overall health?
Fasting can affect both your cell and hormone function. This may improve your overall health and extend your life, according to several studies and evolving research.
Periodic or "intermittent" fasting was linked to lower risks of the following in a 2019 published study in Cell Metabolism.
What happens to cells with Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Many cells "die" and stem cells become "activated" which starts a process of "regeneration."
This "regeneration" process gives rise to new, younger cells, or something called "autophagy."
Autophagy allows the "orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components."
"Autophagy is the natural, regulated mechanism of the cell that removes unnecessary or dysfunctional components. It allows the orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components." —Wikipedia
What else does Intermittent Fasting do?
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may do the following.
Decrease the "bad" cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
Stabilize blood sugar levels through improved insulin resistance.
These are all good things to aim for—and can also be achieved with many other balanced approaches to diet.
Personally, I eat five (5) times a day. I grew up without any meat 🥩 fish 🐟 or poultry 🍗. Still living close to that. I’m mostly plant-based 🌱 now. Feel the best that way.
Should I talk to a doctor before trying a fasting diet?
⛔️ Any restrictive diet obviously should be under the guidance of a medical professional—especially if there are medical comorbidities or medications taken for a condition such as diabetes.
Determine with a trained healthcare professional in nutrition which approach system makes sense for you and your lifestyle.
Diets and food choices are highly individualized.
It can help with weight loss, however, the results will differ for everyone.
An intermittent fasting program may lead to weight loss. ⚠️ However, intermittent fasting is not a practical or sustainable long-term solution for everyone.
How should I spend my "eating" time when I am not "fasting"?
Eating time does not mean binge. It does not mean to consume enough calories for a long winter hibernating. It means to think and make wise choices.
Here is a novel idea💡.
Instead of an "extreme" and "elimination-based" dietary approach, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.
Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🥬 🌾 🥦
What are the long-term effects of Intermittent Fasting?
At this time, the long-term effects of fasting diets aren't well understood. Research completed has been over shorter time frames along with a lack of human studies.
Here are some thoughts 💭 from a Gastroenterologist 🥼...choose healthy calories and add whole-food based nutrients. Avoid an extreme, "all-or-nothing" approach to eating...or in life for that matter.
I eat a high fiber, mostly plant-based diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on "nutrition simplified." No pills. No supplements. No purchased meals.
🥬 Join me when I post “Lunch 🥗 with @dr.dooreck” on LinkedIn.
Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🥬 🌾 🥦
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