Intermittent Fasting

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In recent years, intermittent fasting has gained significant popularity as a revolutionary approach to health and wellness. This dietary pattern involves alternating periods of eating and fasting, and it has captured the attention of researchers, nutritionists, and individuals seeking to optimize their well-being. By leveraging our body’s natural processes and adapting to our modern lifestyle, intermittent fasting offers many potential benefits. This article will research the science behind intermittent fasting, its various methods, and its potential effects on health, weight management, and longevity.

Understanding Intermittent Fasting: While fasting has been practiced for centuries in different cultures and religions, IF has gained momentum due to its potential health benefits beyond weight loss. There are many popular intermittent fasting methods, including the 16/8 method, alternate-day fasting, and the 5:2 diet.

  1. The 16/8 Method: The 16/8 method, also known as the Leangains protocol, involves fasting for 16 hours daily and restricting the eating window to 8 hours. Most people find it convenient to skip breakfast and start eating around noon, finishing their last meal by 8 p.m. This approach aligns with the natural fasting and eating patterns of our ancestors. It can be easily incorporated into a daily routine.
  2. Alternate-Day Fasting: Alternate-day fasting is a more challenging approach where individuals consume very few calories (around 500-600) every other day, alternating with regular eating days. This method can be effective for weight loss but may require more discipline and adjustment to hunger cues.
  3. The 5:2 Diet: The 5:2 diet involves eating normally 5 days a week and restricting calorie consumption to around 500-600 calories on the remaining two days. This pattern allows for flexibility and may be more suitable for those who struggle with daily fasting.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting offers a range of potential benefits that extend beyond weight management. Here are the most notable advantages:

  1. Weight Loss and Metabolic Health Intermittent fasting can promote weight loss by reducing calorie intake, enhancing fat burning, and increasing metabolism. Studies have shown that it may increase better insulin sensitivity, decrease inflammation, and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
  2. Cellular Repair and Longevity Fasting triggers a cellular repair process called autophagy, where the body clears out damaged cells and proteins. This can improve cellular function, reduce oxidative stress, and extend lifespan.
  3. Cognitive Function and Brain Health Emerging evidence suggests that intermittent fasting may enhance brain health by promoting the growth of new neurons, increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  4. Hormonal Balance and Blood Sugar Control Intermittent fasting has been shown to regulate hormones, including insulin, ghrelin, and leptin, which play crucial roles in appetite control, metabolism, and fat storage. It can also improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
  5. Inflammation Reduction and Immune System Support Chronic inflammation significantly contributes to various diseases. Intermittent fasting may help reduce inflammation markers and support a healthy immune system by modulating immune cell activity.

Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained significant popularity recently as a dietary approach to weight loss and improved health. It implicates cycling between periods of fasting and eating. While there are several claimed benefits associated with intermittent fasting, it is crucial to acknowledge and understand the potential disadvantages it may present. In this article, we will research some of the drawbacks of intermittent fasting, shedding light on the negative aspects of this dietary regimen.

Nutritional Deficiencies

One of the primary concerns with intermittent fasting is the potential for nutritional deficiencies. Restricting the eating window can limit the intake of essential nutrients, including macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Since fasting periods can be prolonged, individuals may struggle to consume adequate amounts of these vital nutrients, which are essential for overall health and well-being.

Negative Impact on Blood Sugar Regulation

Intermittent fasting can adversely affect blood sugar regulation, Especially for individuals with diabetes or insulin resistance. During fasting periods, the body’s glucose stores are depleted, leading to hypoglycemia, causing symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating. Moreover, when individuals break their fast, they may experience a spike in blood sugar levels, which can be problematic for those with diabetes.

Potential for Disordered Eating Patterns

While intermittent fasting is intended to be a structured approach to eating, it can inadvertently trigger disordered eating patterns in certain individuals. The strict time constraints and food restrictions may contribute to feelings of guilt, anxiety, or obsessiveness around food. For individuals with a history of eating disorders or those prone to disordered eating, intermittent fasting may exacerbate their condition and pose a risk to their mental and physical health.

Decreased Energy Levels and Productivity

Extended periods of fasting can lead to decreased energy levels and impaired cognitive function. Since the body relies on glucose as its primary energy source, a lack of regular food intake can result in fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. This can be particularly problematic for individuals with physically demanding jobs or those requiring high mental focus.

Disruption of Social Life

Intermittent fasting may pose challenges in social situations that revolve around meals. It can create a barrier to socializing with friends and family, as individuals following this regimen may have to decline invitations to meals or modify their eating schedule to accommodate fasting periods. This can cause feelings of isolation and strain on personal relationships, ultimately impacting one’s overall quality of life.

Potential for Muscle Loss

While intermittent fasting is often associated with weight loss, there is a risk of losing muscle mass and fat. Prolonged fasting periods can trigger the body to enter a catabolic state, breaking down muscle tissue to provide energy. This can harm individuals aiming to build or maintain muscle mass, such as athletes or those in resistance training.

Risk Of Unsustainability

For many people, intermittent fasting may be challenging to maintain long-term. The strict adherence to specific eating windows and the potential for feelings of deprivation can make it difficult to sustain this dietary approach over an extended period. This lack of sustainability can lead to a cycle of yo-yo dieting or abandoning the regimen altogether, resulting in potential weight regains and frustration.

Intermittent fasting has emerged as a powerful tool for improving health and well-being. While it is essential to approach fasting cautiously and seek guidance from healthcare professionals, this eating pattern shows great potential in promoting weight loss, improving metabolic health, enhancing cognitive function, and supporting longevity. As with any lifestyle change, finding the right approach and balance is key. Intermittent fasting may not be acceptable for everyone, and individual considerations, such as existing health conditions and nutritional needs, should always be considered. Nevertheless, the growing body of research suggests that intermittent fasting has the potential to revolutionize our approach to nutrition and optimize our overall health.

Here we discuss this with Dr. Chelsea, a naturopathist, to get her thoughts on this topic.

NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Happy Monday. Well, Intermittent Fasting has become a fashion nowadays. Like people are just using it to lose weight, to do this, to do that, well, we want to understand what is recommended and the guidelines, and Doctor Chelsea will answer all those questions. Doctor Chelsea is a naturopathic doctor joining me live from Canada. Welcome, Doctor Chelsea.

Dr. Chelsea: Thank you so much. I’m very happy to be here tonight.

Intermittent Fasting Guidelines

NourishDoc: Let’s understand the general guidelines first.

Dr. Chelsea: Okay, very good question. Well, intermittent fasting was first developed to mitigate some of the hard parts of fasting for long periods. So, fasts were done for days or weeks for political or health reasons, and intermittent fasting was brought in. That takes 12 to 36 hours to be gentler on the body; it’s one of the oldest dietary forms, and I like it because anybody can fast. After all, it’s free.

It doesn’t cost anything too fast; it saves you money if you’re not eating for a bit. One thing you want to ensure you’re doing when fasting is drinking water. So, that’s fine when you’re fasting, don’t put anything in your water but stay hydrated. A cup every hour or half an hour, so you don’t go dehydrated while fasting, is important.

Recommended Types of Fasting

NourishDoc: Okay, so there are so many different types of fasting; this is four twenty, 12-12, OMAD; it’s confusing as an end consumer. So, do you want to elaborate on it, like, how long should we fast for? What is recommended? Should we only do one meal a day or four hours and 20 or 12? What is recommended?

Dr. Chelsea: It’s a good question. When you’re fasting, you want to see the reason behind your fasting. So, food, when you stop eating, will stay in your digestive tract for about four to eight hours. So, if you think of our digestive tract as one long tube, we have the entrance, and then we have the exit with many different sphincters and chemicals that go through. It’s massaged down.

So, it takes about eight hours to get all the food through you. So, after the food’s gone through you, your digestive finally has a break to restore and inhale. So, the first four to eight mark is just getting the food through your system. After that, if you’re going into 12 hours, you start using up your glycogen stores. So, that’s at the 12-hour mark.

Then, you move into the sixteen-hour mark of fasting. In that case, your body buns out of glucose and starts to use triglycerides or fat as fuel because your body needs energy. So that’s when fat starts to be utilized during your fast. So, pass that 16 hours, and then, if you’re going into 48 hours, your body is starting to use proteins, and amino acids, which are coming from muscles. So, you want to know what you’re starting to use as a fuel source when fasting.

So, it’s important to know the reason behind your fasting and what you want to use for your fasting. However, skipping breakfast at twelve is a nice, gentle way to start fasting. Have two meals or whatever you like to stay fueled throughout the day. Stop eating at 8 o’clock, which is called a 16-eight fast because you’re fasting 16 hours and eating in an eight-hour block. So that’s a nice way to fast that you’re sleeping for most of it. So you’re thinking of food only part of the time. But it’s a nice introduction to fasting.

Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

NourishDoc: So you talked about what the goals for fasting and intermittent fasting are also being used nowadays for weight loss. Talk a little bit about your thoughts on intermittent fasting for weight loss. You said that if you fast for more hours than the protein, the body starts taking the protein as a fuel source. So, let’s talk through what is recommended if someone wanted actually to use intermittent fasting for weight loss.

Dr. Chelsea: So, intermittent fasting for weight loss is a really powerful tool to start to put, well, first, connect you for what the food feels like on your body. I tell my patients that when they’re eating something and have a break from their diet, it allows them to be aware of how I feel after I eat this food and how I feel after a break.

So, once you’ve gone into your 16 hours of fasting, you’re starting to use triglycerides mainly and go into ketosis. Keto means your body is using fuel as ketones as your fuel and breaking down your fat. The one nice benefit of going into ketosis is that your brain loves ketones. It eats them up. It’s a really good brain fuel.

So, you might have some clarity which feels great and is a bonus, but that’s where brain fog goes, and that feeling of clarity comes. So, at 16 hours, if you’re doing it for weight loss is a really good time. Another reason for weight loss is that it sometimes resets your diet. It allows you to think about what you have been eating. It allows you to restrict calories during your eight hours without thinking of calorie restriction. You can still eat fuel yourself. But it’s a good diet reset.

Daily Routine For Intermittent Fasting

NourishDoc: Okay, and then let’s see, how long should we do the intermittent fasting for it? If someone wants to lose weight, right? It should be over three or six months, and then what happens after you return to your normal eating routine? Should we continue intermittent fasting for the rest of our lives? That’s the thing, right?

Dr. Chelsea: That’s a good question. So, how long should you intermittently fast? One of my favorite, I think, fasting quotes is Hypocrites. He said doing nothing is sometimes a good remedy, and sometimes we’re looking for the perfect pillar, facet, and diet. So fasting is more of one of your tools.

After you once how to do it and how you feel, then you can listen to your body and integrate it when you’re feeling a little bit of brain fog or a little overrun or to boost your immune system or to help you fight disease like another old saying which is, feed a cold and starve a fever, that’s talking about fasting, starving the fevers to let your body start to heal itself.

So, if you are going fasting, let’s say, you’re trying it for a week, you’re fasting for the week, or you take a day off, six days, you’re fasting, intermittently, or restrictive time feeding is another name for fasting. Then you say you have one day, and you don’t fast. So, there’s no golden rule of how long you need to fast. It’s listening to your body is what I recommend.

But, one thing I think is beautiful that you maintain with fasting is autophagy or autophagy or the cells eating themselves, the ones that are diseased or maybe not working as well or sluggish. So, the toughest autophagy is this beautiful thing where your body cleans up old cells, and after you’re fasting, that cleanup, that spring cleaning of your cells, is still yours. So, you get to maintain that. So, if you spring clean your house once a year, you can start fasting for a couple of weeks once a year and use it as a tool.

NourishDoc: Okay. Well, this is a quick 101 on Intermittent Fasting. Anything else that you’d like to add? This is a quick 10 to 15-minute session that we bring daily.

Dr. Chelsea: This is all informational. Suppose you want to know about fasting for more specific diseases. In that case, much neat research is coming out for cancers and metabolic diseases. You can talk to a naturopath or your medical doctor, who can aid you in fasting for different tumors, cancers, and metabolic diseases.

NourishDoc: Okay, this can be applied to ailments for therapeutic or healing purposes. That’s right. But good to know. Thank you so much, Doctor Chelsea, for being with us. To all the viewers, please keep supporting us daily. We bring you 10 minutes of wellness tips daily, so stay tuned. We are launching our holistic platform, so that should be with a new app out pretty soon, at the end of March or April. Thank you and Namaste, and have a nice day.

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