Food Freedom Friday Edition 139 - Is Fasting For You?

If you or someone you know has not yet given intermittent fasting (IF) a try, that is most likely to change pretty soon. People who swear by IF say this way of time restricted eating has helped them lose weight and accelerate fat loss, gain muscle, and feel healthier overall. Although the idea behind this controversial eating plan isn't exactly a new one (people have been fating, willingly or circumstantially for eons) it has been gaining traction recently. I have discussed the how’s, why’s, benefots and potential drawbacks of intermittent fasting previously.

The questions become:

Should you join those who already swear by this practice for weight loss and other health benefits?

Who Is Most Likely To See Results From Intermittent Fasting?

This eating plan is definitely worth a try if...

You Fall Into The All-Or-Nothing Kind Of Person Category.

If you have ever tried to diet (and honestly, who hasn’t??), you likely know how it feels when you inevitably fall off the wagon. While some people can get right back on, others end up way off-course. If, for example you are not perfectly compliant and overindulge on dessert, you might think 'OK, I screwed up; now I'm going to go home and eat that bag of ginger snaps my kids left in the cabinet. IF prevents you from going down that rabbit hole, because you never have to be worrying about what you are technically permitted to eat. Instead, you simply concentrate on sticking to your fast schedule.

I am, however, a staunch proponent of eating whole, real foods within a framework that supports you, your health, concerns and goals with occasional indulgences. Time restricted eating (IF) does not focus on food quality at its core – but I believe doing so will only maximize your results!

You Want An Inside-Out Anti-Aging Boost.

No, intermittent fasting is not a silver-bullet not a cure-all for creaky joints, wrinkled skin, or brittle hair, but it does prompt an increase in human growth hormone (HGH), which promotes cellular repair. Not eating for several consecutive hours creates a slight stress on your cells' mitochondria (the energy powerhouses), which gives them a nudge to rev up their functioning. Cellular clean up and getting rid of old, used or un-needed debris and waste also occurs during periods of not eating. This process if known as autophagy and it too promotes cellular regeneration and health.

IF might also be helpful for brain health; animal studies suggest that this eating pattern might serve to ward off age-related cognitive decline.

You Constantly Feel Hungry.

Whether you are a speedy eater who tends to overeat before your brain gets the message that you are consuming food, let alone full or you simply never seem to be satisfied, IF might help. When you are not eating all the time, your hunger hormones end up not being released as often. This may sound counterintuitive, but constant eating and snacking, especially on fast burning carbohydrates, further stimulates appetite. Fasting allows the body to attain better hormonal balance, which enables you to get a grasp on your appetite.

You Have Been Diagnosed As Prediabetic.

If your doctor has told you that you are in danger of developing diabetes, ask him or her if occasional fasting is worth a try. This type of eating plan may support your cells in becoming more sensitive to insulin.

The reason: Every time you eat, your body releases the hormone insulin in an attempt to shuttle sugar from your bloodstream into your cells for energy. If you have developed pre-diabetes, your cells have become  insulin resistant, which means that regulatory system no longer works efficiently and your blood sugar levels stay elevated for longer periods of time. Your body has slowly become unable to deal with carbohydrates. Going longer between eating may help because it requires your body to pump out insulin less often.

You Are Struggling To Shed Those Last 5,10 Or 20 Pounds.

When your weight loss efforts have plateaued, IF may serve to kick-start your metabolism. Your body learns that if there's no glucose available for fuel there are fat stores to burn for fuel instead.
This is commonly known as ketosis. One of the most efficient means to get the body making ketones and burning fat, rather than glucose, as its primary fuel source, is to go for periods of time without eating.

Intermittent fasting can be a great tool to have on your fat-loss journey as a compliment and supplement to other protocols that you are implementing.

Who Should Not Try Intermittent Fasting?

Steer clear of going without food if...

You Are Pregnant.

Hopefully this one is a no-brainer, but pregnancy is not usually the time to focus on shedding fat. Unless your doctor has instructed you otherwise, focus on getting good nutrition throughout the day, every day.

Contrary to this, IF may be a suitable protocol if you are planning to become pregnant or struggling with infertility issues. Please consult with your healthcare provider regarding the viability of this plan in these situations.

You Take Medication That Impacts Your Blood Sugar.

People who use insulin or drugs like metformin need to eat regularly and should NEVER embark on an IF protocol without consulting their physician and being closely monitored. If you go too long between meals you risk having your blood sugar fall way too low, which could be incredibly dangerous.

You Are On Medications That Need To Be Taken With Food In The Morning And Before Bed.

This does not always have to be deal breaker, since you might be able to take a few tablespoons of butter or coconut oil with your medications to ease their absorption without upsetting your stomach or your fasting schedule. It is still imperative to talk to your doctor, since IF may still not be the best choice for you.

You Are A Carboholic.

You can theoretically eat whatever you want when you are on an IF plan (and not in the fasting phase), but if you overdo the carbohydrates, particularly those that have been refined and processed, you will have trouble keeping your blood sugar stable. Refined carbs, in particular, make your blood sugar rise and your insulin spike, followed by a huge insulin and glucose crash. This means that if you are trying to go without food for longer periods and your diet is too carb-heavy, this will result in you feeling pretty hungry and irritable.

I would recommend reducing your carbohydrates and getting comfortable with fueling your body efficiently tnrough fats rather than relying on glucose before embsrking on an IF plan.

You Have An Eating Disorder Or Have Had One In The Past.

Anyone with anorexia, bulimia or any other form of disordered eating should absolutely steer clear. People with a history of eating disorders involving restriction or binging and purging should avoid this way of eating. Psychologically, it could mimic a restrict and binge phase and become a trigger for the disorder to flare up.

Intermittent fasting has multiple benefits for many people, though there are specific groups who should steer clear or work closely with a doctor. How do you know which camp you fall into? When in doubt, it is always smart to consult your personal health care team to decide what is the best protocol for you at this stage of your health journey..

Michal Ofer