Everything You Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting

The 411 on intermittent fasting and whether or not it's right for you.

Article by Krissy Nevero | June 1, 2023

Intermittent fasting (IF) is very popular but is it right for you?

What fasting is and isn’t.

Fasting is the voluntary withholding of food for spiritual reasons, health, weight loss and other reasons. Fasting, done correctly, should not cause suffering and is very controlled. It is not skipping meals and it is not a diet but rather an eating pattern.

Intermittent fasting generally involves varying periods of fasting interspersed by shorter windows of eating. There are several cycles of this which have been proven to work for those seeking to lose weight.

During fasting windows you can drink non-caloric liquids such as water, tea or black coffee.

Some of the most common cycles include:

By adjusting the pattern and frequency by which you consume your meals, you restrict your eating hours to a shorter period during the day. This prolongs the period of fasting, generally reserved for night time, allowing the body more time to digest and assimilate what was consumed.

The important part of this cycle is to ensure that the meals you eat in between fasting periods are balanced and contain enough nutrients and minerals to see your body through the next period of fasting.

What the research says.

Studies have shown that intermittent fasting can affect the functioning of your cells, genes, and hormones, as the altered pattern of your eating will ultimately release the hormones necessary for cell growth and repair. In particular, intermittent fasting can be effective at regulating the hormones that have to do with hunger, blood sugar and metabolism.

So its benefits can include weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, balanced blood sugar (thus lower type two diabetes risk), better mental clarity and less brain fog, better hormonal balance (specifically ghrelin and leptin), reduced inflammation, better mood, improved anxiety, depression and more.

With benefits like that, it sounds pretty tempting, but it’s definitely not for everyone.

Who can benefit from fasting?

As is common with research, a bulk of scientific evidence for the health benefits of intermittent fasting primarily comes from male subjects.

Cycling females, with monthly hormonal fluctuations, may have different caloric and energy needs at different times of the month and can experience different effects from intermittent fasting than males so I advise this group to proceed with caution.

Additionally, fasting for extended periods of time is a physiological stressor. So, if you have low adrenal or thyroid function, are struggling with stress or related symptoms such as irregular or missing cycles, poor sleep, cravings, binging or blood sugar imbalance, now may not be the time to try intermittent fasting.

And if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, have a history with an eating disorder, are prone to experiencing anxiety or fainting intermittent fasting is probably not for you.

In these cases rather than fasting, I recommend focusing on the fundamentals: incorporating regular stress support, good sleep hygiene, regular restorative movement and getting necessary nutrients by eating protein, healthy fats and fibrous carbs three meals a day.

But if you’re feeling great and want to give it a try, I typically recommend starting with a 12 hour overnight fast. For example, you finish eating dinner by 7PM and don’t eat breakfast until 7AM. It can be a good way to ease into it. However, it’s always best to seek guidance from your health practitioner before starting any new healthcare regime.

Krissy Nevero is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Sonoma, California. To learn more about Krissy and her services, please visit her website: www.regainhealthcoaching.com

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