We’ve asked a few experts on what they think about intermittent fasting. Here’s what we got . . .
Research shows intermittent fasting to be beneficial for several markers of health including weight loss (IF preserves lean body mass and increases fat loss), improved blood lipid (cholesterol) profiles (showing promise for folks with poor cardiovascular health), improves insulin resistance (making it potentially helpful in patients with diabetes and other blood sugar irregularities), and reduction in inflammatory markers (may help with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis). Every diet, way of eating and nutrition recommendation has its own risks and benefits. If you are someone who struggles with your relationship with food then IF may not be the best approach to eating for you. Additionally, if you have a history of blood sugar irregularities, are pregnant or breastfeeding I would suggest seeking guidance from a licensed and knowledgeable health care practitioner.
Dr. Brianna Dowdall, ND
I first learned about intermittent fasting as a tool to personally lean out for certain physique goals, and became more interested the more I learned and experienced. Benefits include improved insulin sensitivity (which supports fat loss), higher levels of focus, along with supporting detox (and presumed longevity) through allowing the body to rest and repair. I am at the beginning stages of incorporating it into practice for patients who are prediabetic and addressing healthy fat loss, yet am mindful of monitoring for negative impact on mood, and when there is an unhealthy relationship to food. My favourite educator on this topic is Dr. Jason Fung and his book The Obesity Code.
Dr. Alisia Young, ND
The foundation of Intermittent Fasting is simple. It’s a pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and refraining from eating. It’s NOT about caloric restriction, rather it’s about WHEN you eat.
The right type of fasting for the right type of person can result in better gut health, improved weight management, and perhaps a longer life.
The most popular Intermittent Fasting method is the 16/8, where you fast for 16 hours and eat in an 8-hour window. This has proven to be very effective for most individuals.
How does it work? First, we have to understand the role of insulin. Insulin causes the body to store energy as fat, so the more insulin you make, the more fat you store. While you’re fasting, your body has time to lower insulin levels, which reverses the fat-storing process.
Some additional benefits in addition to weight loss include:
- Supporting healthy and regulated blood sugar levels
- Supports and improves brain health
- Repairs leaky gut
- Reduces inflammation
It’s important to keep these tips in mind when/if you choose to fast:
- Stay hydrated! Make sure you are drinking lots of water during your fasted state.
- When you do eat, eat healthy foods. Intermittent Fasting is not a “get out of jail free” card. It works on the concept that you are eating good quality foods.
- Be mindful that zero calories mean ZERO calories. A handful of nuts means that you’re no longer fasting. Be hyper-aware that you’re not eating ANY calories during fasting hours so that you can actually feel the full effects.
Finally, a quick reminder that Intermittent Fasting is not right for everyone. If you’re curious about trying it, make sure you consult your healthcare practitioner to see if it’s safe and effective for you.
Dr. Barb Woegerer, ND