By Bren Boston, MD and Maggie Ney, ND
The truth is you probably already do some intermittent fasting (IF) and don’t even know it. If you don’t snack after an early dinner and eat a late breakfast, you have done a form of IF. Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that sets aside a specific period of time during the day for eating while the rest of day is devoted to fasting.
There is not a one size fits all protocol for intermittent fasting. Each person responds differently to how many hours they fast and how often they practice IF during the week. It does take some experimenting in the beginning to see if IF is right for you and which protocol allows your body to thrive.
The most common schedules are:
- The Leangains Protocol (also known as the 16/8 method – involves restricting your eating period to an 8-hour period, for example 11AM -7PM. For many people we recommend lengthening the eating period to 12-hours (7AM – 7PM). This can be done 2 or more times a week.
- Eat-Stop-Eat – fasting for 24-hours once or twice a week. For example, no eating from dinner one day until dinner the following day.
- The 5:2 Protocol – involves only eating 500-600 calories on 2 nonconsecutive days of the week, for example every Monday and Wednesday.
What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?
You might be underestimating the benefits of not caving in to the late night snack food cravings. The benefits of IF are far greater than just helping to maintain weight.
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting:
- Improves brain health
- Increases energy
- Enhances tissue healing
- Promotes longevity
- Improve insulin sensitivity
- Supports weight loss
- Normalizes the hunger hormone ghrelin
- Raises adiponectin which tells our body to burn fat
- Reduces oxidative stress
- Reduces inflammation
People who practice IF report feeling more energetic and wake with a feeling of alertness and excitement to start the day. Exercise can work in conjunction with intermittent fasting to improve your health and weight loss. Following an overnight fast, we encourage avoiding strenuous exercise and embracing more gentle forms of exercise such as restorative yoga and walking. Generally after 2-weeks most people will know if Intermittent Fasting is right for them and which schedule feels best.
The benefits of IF are increased when you choose a fiber-rich, anti-inflammatory Mediterranean-type diet with lots of multi-colored vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole non-processed grains during your non-fasting hours.
If you are interested in learning more about intermittent fasting and to discuss the best schedule for your body and your lifestyle, let us help you.