What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a simple weight loss strategy that involves prolonged periods of time with no food intake. There are several different ways to implement IF. Some promote 16 hours of fasting, and an 8-hour eating window. Others recommend going a full 24 hours or even longer without eating.
Personally, I believe starting slow and checking in with your body to see how you feel is a good approach. I frequently suggest starting with a 12-hour eating window (7am-7pm) and fasting overnight.
How does IF impact weight loss?
IF supports weight loss by combating insulin resistance and leptin resistance. When the body is in a fasted state, insulin and blood sugar levels drop. This allows the body to use fat as it’s primary fuel source and leptin signals to reset. Insulin is a fat storage hormone, so we want to keep this hormone tightly regulated and sensitized to it’s receptor.
Fasting also acts as a ‘reset’ to the digestive tract by giving it a break from its energy demanding job of breaking down and absorbing all nutrients, minerals, fats, proteins and sugars. This allows the body to heal and repair the gastrointestinal lining leading to reduced intestinal inflammation and improved motility. This can result in less pain and more consistent, healthier bowel movements.
IF also lowers inflammatory markers by supporting the function of the immune and digestive system so can help with symptoms such as chronic joint pain.
When should IF be avoided?
If you are struggling with chronic stress and symptoms of cortisol imbalance, not sleeping well, or struggling with hormonal imbalance, IF could potentially make symptoms worse. This is because IF puts the body under additional physical stress which has the potential to magnify pre-existing stressors or imbalances.
Always start by addressing these pre-existing stressors before implementing intermittent fasting or talk to a health care practitioner to determine if IF is right for you!