Intermittent fasting is a style of eating in which you have periods of eating and periods of fasting. There are not strict rules about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.
You already fast every day, while you sleep. Intermittent fasting can be as simple as extending that fast a little longer. You can do this by skipping breakfast and then eating your first meal at noon and finishing your last meal at 8 pm. That way, you’re technically fasting for 16 hours every day, and restricting eating to an 8-hour eating window. This is the most popular form of intermittent fasting, known as the 16/8 method. Benefits have also been shown using a 12 hour fast and 12 hour eating window, but 16 hours of fasting is better if you can do it. Other people do a 5/2 method where they eat normally during 5 days of the week and fast completely for 2 days (24 hour period) per week.
Although this may be different from your normal habits in modern culture, intermittent fasting is fairly easy to do. Many people report feeling better and having more energy eating this way. Hunger in the fasting window is usually not that big of an issue, although it can be bothersome in the beginning while your body is getting used to not eating for extended periods of time. Most people find they don’t mind waiting until later in the day to eat.. and most fully adjust within 1 month.
No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink sugarless beverages such as water, black coffee, plain tea, carbonated water, or other non-caloric beverages.
What are the benefits?
According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., and Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D published in December 2019, the benefits include:
Improved glucose (blood sugar) regulation
Increased stress resistance
Suppression or reduction of inflammation
Blood pressure and heart rate reduction
Significant effects decreasing Obesity, Diabetes, Heart disease, Arthritis, and Neurodegenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Improved mental and physical performance
Increased life span
Protection against cancer and positive effects on pre-existing tumor growth and response to chemotherapy
Here are physicians you may be interested in looking up who promote this style of eating
Dr. Jason Fung at thefastingmethod.com
Dr. Michael Mosley at thefast800.com
Dr. Clark-Ganheart at thefastingdoctor.com
How to get started…
Make a plan. Decide how you are going to proceed, when to start, and what you will do if you are feeling like quitting.
Find sugar-free beverages you enjoy. Flavorful herbal tea? or zero-calorie sparkling water? Or black coffee?
Ask your partner, friend, or adult child to be your accountability partner.
Track your progress. Take note of how you feel, how your body changes, and any weight you lose to feel motivated to continue.
I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients.
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The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.