Intermittent Fasting, the Why and the How
Obesity has made an impact on people’s health and has become an epidemic in the United States (U.S.). In fact, in the U.S. healthy individuals with a normal body mass index (BMI) is considered the minority (Rynders CA et al, 2019). The most established way to trigger weight loss is to prescribe a reduction in calorie intake. Investigators have performed research to evaluate weight loss strategies that involved calorie intake restriction for periods of time during the day or extended lengths of time of fasting between meals. This would describe an intermittent fasting approach.
Intermittent fasting can help individuals to lose weight and improve their health. It can bring simplicity into one’s life and helps them to gain control of uncontrollable eating. It becomes simple because when one does eat, there are no specific foods removed from the diet. Although, it is best to consume more plant based foods such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains.
Animal research has demonstrated that intermittent fasting improves cognitive function, diminishes oxidative stress and helps to increase lifespan (Stockman M-C et al, 2018).
Also, this type of dietary regimen has been shown to help improve the gastrointestinal tracts friendly flora, the inflammatory response and also helps to clean out cells so the body can regenerate new ones.
Intermittent fasting is for healthy individuals who would gain approval from their doctor.
Research has studied specific intermittent fasting plans (Rynders CA et al, 2019; Stockman M-C et al, 2018). These are included below:
- One or 2 days a week, fast for 24 hours, drinking plenty of water and then eat the rest of the week
- Eat for only 8 to 10 hours then fast for the last 14 to 16 hours of the day
- Alternate-day fasting, which means a complete fast for 24 hours (only water) and then eat regularly with around 25% less calories the next day.
Fasting may include hot or cold drinks without calories such as tea and broth.
It would be encouraged for one to make a plan in advance.
Research has shown that fasting for at least 10–16 hours can cause the body to turn its fat stores into energy, which releases ketones into the bloodstream and encourages weight loss. Blood sugar levels decrease about 20% during the fast (Longo VD, et al 2014). Energy is available from body fat, which breaks down and releases ketones. The amount of ketone released in the body will vary depending on the individual’s physical activity.
During the days of eating one can choose healthy meals such as a vegetable stir fry made with Olive oil, fresh and frozen dark green, orange and yellow vegetables rich in carotenoids, antioxidants and nutrients. Brown rice made from scratch can be served on the side.
It has been shown that intermittent fasting has a positive effect on brain function and energy metabolism because it changes brain neuron activity.
Obesity is prevalent in the U.S. and intermittent fasting is a way to help some individuals to lose weight and improve their health. There have been different intermittent fasts that have been studied that have demonstrated health benefits in animals and humans.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Individuals with health concerns or on medication should check with their health care practitioner before trying any new type of eating plan.