Updated: Jun 28, 2019
Dr. Hollie Levine, MSW, ND
Intermittent fasting, also known as time restricted eating, isn’t really a diet, although if done correctly there is research showing you can drop weight as well as blood pressure, cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, and inflammation. There are also studies that show no change in any of the above markers. My thought would be that people who eat a healthy diet while on this program are the ones who would benefit most.
Intermittent fasting is about cycling between periods of eating and periods of fasting. The simplest method is known as 16/8; that is fast for 16 hours after an 8 hour eating period. This would look like skipping breakfast, having a hearty lunch, and an evening meal anytime up to say 8 pm, and then not eating again until noon the next day. You can vary the time of commencing your fast and starting to eat again, as well as the fasting period. Some people prefer 18 hours of fasting and will avoid eating from 7 pm until 1 pm the next day. Another variation is fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, which might look like not eating from just before suppertime one day until suppertime the following day.
The documented physiology behind a prolonged fast has to do with insulin. Insulin levels go down between meals, and if this period is for long enough and the levels drop far enough, the body begins to burn fat. We also increase secretion of human growth hormone which supports the process of fat loss and muscle gain.
Studies that did find that people lost weight on intermittent fasting showed losses of around 5% of body weight at 2 to 4 weeks, and 8% or greater over 24 weeks. However weight loss, and the other benefits of lowered insulin, will almost certainly not happen if you are overeating and/or eating the wrong foods.
The takeaway here is that intermittent fasting can be beneficial if you eat a healthy diet of veggies, fruits, healthy proteins and fats, and whole grains; while avoiding sugar and processed foods. If you are still interested, come on in and talk with us about it.