What is intermittent fasting?
What sets intermittent fasting apart from other diet trends? It’s not about what you eat, but when. Intermittent fasting is characterized by time-restricted eating patterns (most often, 16 hours of fasting and eight hours of eating or five days of “normal eating” and two days of eating 500-600 calories per day).
The potential benefits of intermittent fasting
Ever heard the quote, “Let food be thy medicine?” Maybe Hippocrates was onto something, but he forgot one thing: the frequency with which we consume our meals. One study investigating caloric restriction’s role in cancer prevention demonstrates that although genetic predisposition influences the risk of developing cancer, altering lifestyle factors such as caloric intake (without nutritional malnutrition) can contribute to the prevention of cancer. One study sought to test the effects of intermittent fasting on men with pre-diabetes. The study found that subjects who ate breakfast, lunch and dinner within a six-hour period experienced reduced appetite, lower blood pressure and better insulin sensitivity than subjects who ate meals within a 12-hour period.
The dark side of fasting
Many accredited health professionals advocate for fasting, but evidence supporting the benefits of fasting is limited. The development of eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and orthorexia is associated with fasting. Fasting may decrease REM sleep and raise cortisol levels, increasing your risk of developing anxiety, depression, heart disease, weight gain and more.
Fasting isn’t for everyone. Your body needs nutrition to survive. Before adopting intermittent fasting for weight-loss or disease prevention, consult your medical provider. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a history of eating disorders or suffer from conditions including heart disease, avoid fasting.