Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and not eating. It’s not a diet, per se where you plan what you can and cannot eat, but rather a schedule of when you can eat. When done properly, you don’t need to limit the types of foods you eat and instead plan your meals for certain times of the day.
This Harvard health study explains the “how” of intermittent fasting:
IF [intermittent fasting] makes intuitive sense. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flours and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there.
Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.
Intermittent fasting has proven results, from weight loss to improvements in metabolic health, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Fasting for 16 hours can sound extreme, but when you can schedule your fast overnight, it’s just as effective AND you’re asleep for at least half that time!
Listen to Karen D. Morgan, APRN-BC discuss the positive feedback she has heard from patients regarding intermittent fasting:
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