What You Need to Know About Intermittent Fasting

Many women come into Platinum Primary Care seeking help with weight management, so today, we’re taking a closer look at one of the most popular health trends: intermittent fasting. To make sure you’re staying healthy and taking the best care of your body, always consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new diet.

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that naturally cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It’s not about what you eat but when you eat. Common methods include:

  • The 16/8 Method: Also called the Leangains protocol, it involves daily 16-hour fasts with 8-hour eating periods. For instance, you could skip breakfast and only eat between noon and 8 p.m. Many people find this plan to be the easiest and most sustainable one to follow.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This method refers to fasting for 24 hours, twice weekly.
  • The 5:2 Diet: For this technique, you consume 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days and then eat normally for the remaining five days each week.

Nutritionists believe you can see benefits from intermittent fasting with a 12-hour fast, 12-hour eating period daily or even just a few times per week. If you need an easier option, you can listen to your body and just fast when it feels right or convenient, skipping a meal if you’re not hungry or don’t have time to cook. During fasting periods, you can either eat nothing at all or keep your intake under 50 calories.

Concerns About Intermittent Fasting

If you’re practicing intermittent fasting, it’s important that you don’t overeat during your eating periods. By doing so, you may undo many of the positive benefits of this eating pattern, including the potential for weight loss. 

Side effects of intermittent fasting include hunger and feeling tired or weak. These feelings are often temporary and should go away as your body adjusts to a new eating pattern. As we mentioned above, you should always talk to a healthcare professional before beginning any diet but especially if you’re trying to conceive or breastfeeding, have diabetes, have problems with blood sugar regulation, have low blood pressure, or have a history of eating disorders. To safely practice intermittent fasting, ease into it, and stop immediately if you notice any health problems.  

Is Intermittent Fasting a Good Fit for Me?

People turn to intermittent fasting to lose weight, improve their health, and simplify their lifestyle. Many studies show that it can have an impressive impact on your body and brain and may help you live longer. Even short-term fasting can increase your metabolic rate by as much as 14 percent.

During fasting periods, your body undergoes several changes on the cellular and molecular level. It gives your cells the opportunity to initiate important repair processes and changes the expression of genes related to longevity and disease protection. The levels of human growth hormone in your body can increase as much as five times, resulting in benefits such as fat loss and muscle gain. Fasting also allows your insulin sensitivity to improve and insulin levels to drop, making stored body fat more accessible. Additionally, some studies show reductions in inflammation markers, a key driver of many chronic diseases. 

As it relates to your overall health, intermittent fasting may reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also called “bad” cholesterol) and blood triglycerides, both risk factors for heart disease. It increases the brain hormone BDNF, may aid in the growth of new nerve cells and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, animal studies suggest that it can prevent cancer and extend your lifespan.

How Platinum Primary Care Can Help

Platinum Primary Care wants to ensure that you’re getting the most out of intermittent fasting. Remember that the scale isn’t the best indicator of success. Even if your weight is decreasing, you may be slowing down your metabolism while losing muscle and gaining fat — a common occurrence when starting a new diet. With close collaboration and regular follow-ups, we can make sure you’re on the path to healthy weight management. 

Want to know if intermittent fasting is a good fit for you? Reach out to Dr. Asha Tota-Maharaj, MD at Platinum Primary Care for help with weight management, high cholesterol, and more!