Intermittent Fasting: Hype or Healthy?

By: Samantha Wineke, Functional Medicine Health Coach.

If you dabble in the health world, chances are that you’ve heard of intermittent fasting. It is an increasingly popular eating method that compresses the amount of time that you spend eating per day (your “feeding window”) and extends the amount of time that you spend fasting every day (your “fasting window”). This type of fasting has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including increased fat loss and decreased “bad” cholesterol (LDL). It can also decrease inflammation in the body, allowing you the time needed to rest and repair.

How does intermittent fasting work?

Anytime you are digesting food, your body breaks down carbohydrates into sugar, and your cells use the sugar (also known as glucose) for energy. Any unused sugar will be preserved in your body as fat. When you are fasting for a prolonged period of time, the cells are pushed into self-preservation mode. Because there is no sugar to use as energy, your body begins to look for other forms of fuel– and guess what the next form of fuel available is? You guessed it! Fat! So, your cells begin to break down fat (mainly triglycerides) for energy. This is why intermittent fasting is known to help with weight loss and cardiovascular health. In addition, during your fasting window, your insulin levels drop, helping regulate blood sugar levels.

How do you start intermittently fasting?

Typically, the intermittent fasting window is between 12 and 18 hours, and the feeding window is between 6 and 12 hours. During your fasting window, you can consume water and black coffee, but nothing that will require your body to process calories. The feeding process begins the moment that you put anything that requires metabolic activity into your mouth. This type of eating pattern doesn’t necessarily require you to change the number of calories that you are consuming, but instead, it compresses the time period in which you are eating your calories. For example, if you are used to consuming 2,000 calories per day over the course of 14-16 hours, with intermittent fasting, you may choose to consume those 2,000 calories within an 8-12 hour feeding window.

Seem intimidating? We recommend starting with a 12-hour fasting window, and slowly increasing to the fasting window that feels best for you.

Who shouldn’t do intermittent fasting?

While intermittent fasting has a number of benefits, it may not benefit you if you are suffering from chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalances, or acute stress. Due to their hormonal changes, women may find that they function better with a shorter fasting period of 12 hours. We wouldn’t recommend intermittent fasting for anyone trying to get pregnant, or anyone with a history of eating disorders.

If you’re unsure if intermittent fasting is right for you, reach out to us by filling out the form below or give us a call!

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