Imagine after years of struggling with your weight, hormones and blood-sugar levels, you make one pretty simple switch and see dramatic metabolic improvements.
Sounds too good to be true? And not only that, there’s no need for a drastic dietary intervention and no depriving yourself or temporary calorie-deprivation. In other words, you don’t have to starve yourself. In fact, you really don’t have to give up eating your favorite foods.
The only thing you need to do is control when you’re eating your favorite foods. This is called intermittent fasting or time-restricted feeding. In my health coaching and functional medicine practice, I’ve been helping people easily transition to the intermittent fasting lifestyle. And the results have been pretty dramatic for many people.
Before I talk about these transformations, first, let’s cover the basics…
What is Intermittent Fasting?
To put it simply, intermittent fasting limits the period of time that you consume anything with calories. The best window for consuming calories isn’t an exact science but the most popular and well-researched eating window is 8 hours. But even limiting your calorie-consuming window to 12 hours a day may have benefits.
This is especially true if you’re somebody who is used to eating throughout the day, from early morning to popcorn Netflix snacking late at night. So here’s an example of how intermittent fasting works:
- Finish eating dinner by 7 p.m.
- Don’t have any drinks or snacks with calories after dinner. Plain herbal tea is ok.
- Don’t eat or drink anything with calories until at least 8 a.m. If you can hold off until 9 or 10, even better!
- Eat two or three well-balanced meals throughout the day and a healthy snack if needed. (Some people may do better consuming smaller meals; I’ll help you determine which eating plan is right for you!)
- Add some trace minerals or Redmond brand Real Sea Salt to your water or herbal tea in the morning before you break the fast. This will help keep your energy levels up.
In a future post, I’ll talk about the different ways to do intermittent fasting/time-restricted feeding.
But here, I’ll focus on the metabolic benefits.
What Are The Metabolic Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting?
So here’s why Intermittent Fasting is a health trend that won’t fade away like other fads in the future. Research shows that time-restricted feeding kick-starts the repair of your trillions of cells and helps balance hormone levels. You can’t burn fat effectively if your hormones are out of whack!
Intermittent fasting also helps balance the body’s insulin levels. If you have high blood sugar levels, your body has become resistant to insulin. That means your pancreas needs to produce more insulin in order to get sugar into the cells. The great thing about intermittent fasting is that it’s a relatively easy way to become more sensitive to insulin. This means your pancreas doesn’t need to work so hard to produce insulin.
By going 12-16 hours or even longer without eating, you can drastically reduce the amount of insulin your pancreas has to crank out. This is so important if you’re trying to lose weight because insulin is the primary mechanism of fat storage. And snacking all day leads to a steady demand for insulin production. More insulin production equals more fat storage.
Intermittent Fasting And Hunger Hormones
Insulin is a hormone. But it’s not the only one that can benefit from intermittent fasting. Limiting the amount of hours you take in calories can also improve your leptin levels. Leptin is your body’s hunger hormone. It tells your brain that you’ve had enough to eat.
Interestingly, overweight and obese people can have high levels of leptin. You might think that having high levels of leptin means that your brain is getting the message that you don’t need any more food. What this fact suggests is that people with high leptin levels who easily put on weight are leptin-resistant.
So what intermittent fasting does, then, is it makes you more sensitive to leptin.
Another hormone that intermittent fasting improves is adiponectin. That’s a hormone your fatty tissues release to control inflammation and insulin. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “low levels of adiponectin are associated with several conditions, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.”
The amazing thing about intermittent fasting is that some people are able to ditch their insulin therapy. This suggests that the simple act of limiting when you eat may be one of the best diabetes-management tools. (Of course, “what” you eat is still important. Intermittent fasting doesn’t give you a free pass to eat junk food.)
Research on The Metabolic Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
As a health professional, I have to make sure that health trends are backed by science. (I don’t particularly like the phrase, “follow the science” because it’s become so political, but that’s for another topic!)
So let’s see what some of the research says…
Let’s consider a 2021 study in Clinical Diabetes and Endocrinology. It looked at several different intermittent fasting studies and concluded, “current evidence suggests that intermittent fasting is an effective non-medicinal treatment option for type 2 diabetes.”
Another benefit of intermittent fasting, according to Jefferson Health is that it can benefit people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Hey, that’s also another topic I’ll cover in the future.
Can you tell I’m excited about intermittent fasting?
And if you’re curious about it, I can show you how to get started.