Intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that puts the focus on when you eat instead of traditional diets that emphasize what you eat. Intermittent fasting is growing in popularity for its health and wellness benefits, but the concept is hardly new.
Fasting has been practiced throughout history, whether it was through food shortage and necessity or a part of spiritual or religious celebration. Today, it’s normal to eat three or more meals every day — but does your body really need all those regular meals for optimal function?
Anita Petruzzelli, MD, and our team at BodyLogicMD take an integrative approach to wellness. We help people improve their lives with supervised weight loss programs, but intermittent fasting offers benefits that go far beyond shedding those extra pounds.
The basics of intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is an eating strategy that alternates periods of normal eating with periods of fasting. There are many different ways to do intermittent fasting, but two of the most common methods are the 16/8 method and the 5:2 method.
The 16/8 method involves eating normally during an eight-hour period each day and not eating for the remaining 16 hours. This might look like eating your first meal around 12pm and then not eating after 6pm.
The 5:2 method generally means you’ll eat normally five days of the week and fast for two days. Some people spread fasting days out over the week, and some may eat very little amounts (such as 500-600 calories) during their fasting days.
Intermittent fasting doesn’t make any foods “off limits,” but it’s important to choose nutritious food when you do eat. No matter which fasting method you pick, make your meals count by eating fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Benefits of intermittent fasting
Participating in an intermittent fasting plan means you’re extending the periods of time that you don’t eat. This increases your chances of consuming fewer calories, and it’s a popular eating strategy for people who are trying to lose weight.
Intermittent fasting can certainly be beneficial for those hoping to reach a healthier weight, but weight loss isn’t the only benefit. Periods of fasting trigger changes in your cells and hormones that can improve bodily function in a variety of ways.
Improved cellular function
Fasting increases growth hormone levels in your body, which aids in weight loss, but also helps build muscle mass. It also enhances natural cellular repair processes and gene function to protect against disease.
Fasting may also make your body more sensitive to insulin. Lower insulin resistance naturally decreases insulin levels. It makes extra body fat more available to burn, but it can also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and related health issues.
Lower inflammation in the body
Inflammation is linked to a range of common health issues, from arthritis to asthma. It’s your body’s natural immune response, but too much inflammation can cause chronic health problems and oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in your body.
Intermittent fasting can slow or stop inflammatory cells from being released into your blood, and those cells become much less active when you’re fasting. The result is lower inflammation during both eating and fasting periods.
There’s also some evidence that intermittent fasting can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, all of which can reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses.
Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool for wellness, but it’s important to understand the risks before you start any new health program. Talk to Dr. Petruzzelli to find out if intermittent fasting could be a good option for your body.
Call our team at BodyLogicMD, or request your first appointment online to get started.