What is Intermittent Fasting?
Most people have an idea of what fasting entails: it’s the conscious avoidance of food for an extended period of time. But many get a confused look when I bring up Intermittent Fasting (IF), which I often do, given the extensive health benefits associated with the well-research subject.
There are many varieties of IF that have surfaced over the last 5 years. The main difference with IF versus fasting is that we are no longer going for days and weeks limiting our intake to water or vegetable juice. IF allows us to gain the benefit of fasting without the downsides of going for extended periods without food. IF can be a 12-16 hour nightly fast or 5 day stretch each month where we eat 700 calories, or even twice a week calorie restriction of 500 calories or many things in between.
The key is to repeat the IF on a regular basis, improving your body's ability to react to the beneficial stress by becoming more metabolically flexible. So why do it?
Here’s a small sample of what can change about your health once you start intermittent fasting:
- Weight loss
- Improved cognition
- Improved muscle mass
- Decrease in fasting glucose
- Decrease in blood pressure
- Decrease in inflammatory markers such as IFG-1 and CRP
- Decrease in cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol and triglycerides
Intermittent Fasting is effective when implemented as a lifestyle which means it’s a change that is made and sustained over the long term. How you do IF is up to you, find a way that works and that you can make consistent. This is often the hardest part!