Intermittent fasting has a lot of hype surrounding it. From weight loss to health benefits, people have been hailing the benefits of this eating pattern for years. But is it really that good for you? How does it work? Is there anyone who shouldn’t try it? In this blog, I’m talking all about intermittent fasting and what you need to know, so keep reading to learn more!
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is defined as “a diet regimen that cycles between brief periods of fasting, with either no food or a significant calorie reduction, and periods of unrestricted eating.” (Harvard) What makes this eating pattern more unique than a typical “diet” is that the focus isn't on what you can and can’t eat. Instead, intermittent fasting focuses on when you should eat your food since the main key is to limit the hours of the day that you eat.
While there are a few different methods, the most popular is a 16-hour fast, which means that the window of eating time is eight hours every day. An example of this could be eating bewteen the hours of 11 AM – 7 PM and then fasting the rest of the day. However, even doing a 12-hour fast (which most people should already “technically” be doing) can be beneficial!
When doing a fast, it’s important NOT to graze throughout the entire eating window. This can disrupt the migrating motor complex (MMC). MMC is a cyclic, recurring motility pattern that occurs in the stomach and small bowel during fasting. It's similar to the housekeeping crew coming in to clean up between meals! To avoid grazing, try to still have regular meals at designated times. For example, you may break your fast with a late breakfast at 11am, mid afternoon lunch at 3pm, and a dinner before 7pm.
What Types of Food Are Allowed?
You can eat a normal diet within your eating window. Of course, what is a "normal" diet needs to be taken into consideration! Individual dietary goals should still be addressed based on your medical history. Your "eating window" does not give you permission for an "all you can eat" smorgasbord!
Caffeinated black coffee or plain tea is generally accepted during intermittent fasting, however; since a goal is to not stimulate the liver, technically you should wait until the fast is broken.
Are There Health Benefits to Intermittent Fasting?
Some studies have shown that intermittent fasting can lead to improvements in health conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disorders. For those with Type 2 Diabetes, fasting may prove beneficial to reverse insulin resistance and lower A1C levels.
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve cognitive health. Studies suggest it can reduce brain inflammation and reduce the risk of strokes. Eating this way could also help with longer term weight control since it can be a tool to help maintain a sustained caloric deficit.
Who Shouldn't Do Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. Those with Type 1 Diabetes or hypoglycemia can risk their blood sugar falling too low, and those with eating disorders can fall back into unhealthful eating patterns. Some people must take their medication with food during specific times of the day so this should be considered too. If you suffer from Gastric Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), you could experience worsened symptoms when your stomach is empty for too long.
If you’re interested to see if intermittent fasting is right for you, please consult with a doctor or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist before starting.
Schedule an appointment today to talk about how diet changes can help you! Your health insurance may be able to cover your visits at no cost to you. Nutrition Dynamix takes pride in assessing each patient’s individual needs. There is no single diet that is perfect for everybody’s health.
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