Let’s Talk About Intermittent Fasting with Danielle…

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Danielle is back today to talk about one of the most popular health and fitness trends – Intermittent fasting!

Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink coffee, tea, or other non caloric beverages.

The three most popular methods are:

  • 16/8 Fast for 16 hours per day and only eat between the hours of 12:00 and 8:00 pm.
  • Eat Stop Eat- Once or twice a week don’t eat anything for dinner until dinner the next day. (24 hr. fast)
  • 5/2 Diet- During two days of the week eat only about 500/600 calories per day. 

There is mounting evidence to suggest that when it comes to IF, it may be the timing of the fast that makes all the difference in what could be a sustainable and effective strategy for weight loss and diabetes prevention.

Why Fast?

All sorts of processes in the body change when we don’t eat for a while in order to allow our bodies to thrive during a period of famine. When fasted, we get significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin levels as well as an increase in human growth hormone. These alterations allow our fat cells to release their stored sugar to be used as energy. In essence, IF promotes a shift in energy metabolism that results in increased fat burning.

Many people use intermittent fasting to lose weight. For some, it can be a simple and effective way to restrict calories and burn fat. Studies show weight loss at a rate of .55 to 1.65 lbs. per week!  Others choose IF for metabolic health benefits, as it can improve multiple different risk factors and health markers, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. But as I noted above, not all forms of IF are equal and timing may be the key.

In a recent study, researchers from the University of Alabama investigated a form of IF referred to as “early time-restricted feeding”. This form of IF fits all meals into an early 8-hour period of the day, for example – from 7 am to 3 pm. After just five weeks, the early time-restricted feeding group had dramatically improved glucose (sugar) metabolism in the form of lower insulin and improved insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure!  Even better, this group also experienced significant decreases in their appetite.

The bottom line??  Science is pointing to circadian rhythm fasting, (when paired with a healthy diet + an active lifestyle) as an effective approach to weight loss, healthy weight maintenance, and management of cardiovascular risk factors, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Just remember, what you eat is equally as important as when you eat! Try to focus on eating nutritious high fiber + high protein foods with plenty of healthy fat. Some examples are beans, lentils, avocados, whole grains, and nuts. They will make you feel full without consuming too many calories.  A plant-based, Mediterranean-style approach is always a good bet!

I’ll leave you with some simple strategies provided by Dr. Monique Tello, MD, MPH from the Harvard Health blog:

  • Avoid sugars and refined grains and instead load up on fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  • Let your body burn fat between meals by not snacking, moving your body throughout the day, and building muscle tone.
  • Consider a simple form of IF. For best effect, keep your eating window to the earlier part of the day!
  • Avoid eating at nighttime – all.the.time!

So, while intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone, it may be highly beneficial for some. Hopefully the information and tips in this blog will help you decide if it’s an appealing strategy for you. Keep us posted…  We’d love to hear about your IF journey and what worked or didn’t work for you!


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