Intermittent Fasting

A health fad? Or a protocol that can be extremely beneficial for your health?  Intermittent fasting seems to be all over social media these days and the amount of information can be overwhelming.  Based on personal experience and plenty of research on the topic, I recommend intermittent fasting for many individuals.  Let’s break it down!!

What is Intermittent Fasting

Most people understand that fasting means avoiding food for select amount of time.  A more specific definition states that intermittent fasting is a specific eating pattern cycling between eating and not eating.  The most important concept to understand is that TIME is the most important factor involved with intermittent fasting.  Intermittent fasting is not a one size fits all approach.  There are numerous different types of fasting protocols including time restrictions, caloric restrictions, and dietary restrictions.  Caloric restriction means reducing the number of calories you consume of specific days.  Dietary restrictive fast involves significantly reducing s specific type of food usually carbohydrates.  

Weight loss and boosting the immune system are common reasons for people starting a fast. Weight loss usually leads to better overall health and improvement of specific biomarkers.  These include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and inflammatory markers.  Of course, you absolutely need to discuss this with your doctor before attempting any change in diet.

Benefits

Weight loss

Improved insulin sensitivity

Decrease LDL, Increase HDL

Reduce oxidative stress

Reduce inflammation

Reduce rest heart rate & BP

studies posted below

Types of Fasting

8 HOUR PROTOCOL

Let’s start with the easiest option, the 8 hour method.  Also known as time restricted eating.  This method allows for eating 8 hours of the day and to avoid eating for the other 16 hours.  It’s essentially a 16 hour fast every day.  The most recommended method is to skip breakfast.  For example, your first meal of the day starts at 11am and your last meal must end by 7pm.  There is absolutely no eating outside 11-7 hours.  This would be done everyday of the week.  

5:2 METHOD

Another popular method is the 5:2 protocol.  Eat a normal diet 5 days a week.  It’s recommended to eat 1/3 of your recommended caloric intake the other 2 days of the week.  This usually equals about 600 calories.  The 600-calorie diet is not to be completed on consecutive days.  I would also highly recommend that the normal diet consist of mostly an anti-inflammatory diet. 

ALTERNATE DAYS

A similar protocol to the 5:2 method is the alternate day fast.  It’s a little more challenging but with the same concept.  You would alternate normal diet days and fasting days.  Eating your typical 2000 calorie diet on the first day and then consuming 600 calories the following day.  Repeat this pattern till the completion of your fast.

24 HOURS

Avoid eating for a 24 hour period.  The most common method starts after dinner.  For example, if you finish dinner at 7pm, your next meal would be 7pm the following evening.  This method is to be done once a week.  

Sample 8 hour day

The 8 hour intermittent fast is what I usually recommend.  It’s simple and doesn’t require any major changes.  It does require commitment and consistency.  Start with a 7 day challenge.  Pick an 8 hour window and only eat within those hours each day.  Foods should be healthy choices.  Check out the “get your 50” program and pick foods from the “3 point” list.  Make sure to drink 8 cups water each day.

11am

Breakfast smoothie.  Combine fruit and vegetables with nutritional meal supplement.

3pm

Kale salad with cranberries and pumpkin seeds.  Organic dressing.

6pm

Chicken and roasted vegetables mixed with an Balsamic glaze. Done eating by 7pm.

Resources

  • Schwartz, K.; Chang, H.-T.; Nikolai, M.; Pernicone, J.; Rhee, S.; Olson, K.; Kurniali, P.-C.; Hord, N.-G.; Noel, M. Treatment of Glioma Patients with Ketogenic Diets: Report of Two Cases Treated with an IRB-approved Energy-Restricted Ketogenic Diet Protocol and Review of the Literature. Cancer Metab. 2015, 3, 3. DOI: 10.1186/s40170-015-0129-1.
  • Eltzschig, H.-K.; Eckle, T. Ischemia and Reperfusion–From Mechanism to Translation. Nat. Med. 2011, 17, 1391–1401. DOI: 10.1038/nm.2507
  • Secor, S.-M.; Carey, H.-V. Integrative Physiology of Fasting. Compr. Physiol. 2016, 6, 773e825. DOI: 10.1002/ cphy.cv06i02corr
  • Seimon, R.-V.; Roekenes, J.-A.; Zibellini, J.; Zhu, B.; Gibson, -A.-A.; Hills, A.-P.; Wood, R.-E.; King, N.-A.; Byrne, N.-M.; Sainsbury, A. Do Intermittent Diets Provide Physiological Benefits over Continuous Diets for Weight Loss? A Systematic Review of Clinical Trials. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 2015, 418(2), 153–172. DOI: 10.1016/j.mce.2015.09.014
  • Fann, D.-Y.; Ng, G.-Y.; Poh, L.; Arumugam, T.-V. Positive Effects of Intermittent Fasting in Ischemic Stroke. Exp. Gerontology. 2017, 89, 93–102. DOI: 10.1016/j.exger.2017.01.014.
  • Longo, V.-D.; Panda, S. Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metab. 2016, 23(6), 1048–1059. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.10.016.
  • Ahmed A, Saeed F, Arshad MU, et al. Impact of intermittent fasting on human health: an extended review of metabolic cascades. International Journal of Food Properties. 2018;21(1):2700-2713. doi:10.1080/10942912.2018.1560312.
  • Higashida, K.; Fujimoto, E.; Higuchi, M.; Terada, S. Effects of alternate-day fasting on high-fat diet-induced insulin resistance in rat skeletal muscle. Life Sci. 2013, 93, 208–213
  • Johnstone A. Fasting for weight loss: an effective strategy or latest dieting trend? International Journal of Obesity. 2015;39(5):727-733. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.214.