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Intermittent Fasting


Did you know?

The longest fast on record took place in 1971 when Angus Barbieri fasted for 382 days? Yep! 382 days! Now I am in no way suggesting you attempt such a feat! Not at all! i just wanted to share a cool bit of trivia with you. 

Now, what if I told you intermittent fasting was really intermittent eating?  Say what?  What in the world does that mean? To help explain what intermittent fasting is, let's start with what intermittent means.

According to intermittent means: not happening regularly or continuously; stopping and starting repeatedly or with long periods in between.

So whether you're talking about intermittent fasting or intermittent eating, it's pretty much the same idea, just focusing on a different action. Make sense?  Let's pick this a part a bit more.

We live in a world where food is available 24 hours a day. We've been told for decades to eat every couple of hours, to maintain our blood sugar, (which by the way is the worse piece of advice to follow, and yes, we'll talk more about that in another article.). We graze or snack all day long because we are bored, stressed, anxious or depressed.  Let's be honest shall we?  We rarely eat because we are hungry, and whether it's a Starbucks coffee, a bowl of nuts and raisins, or an actual sit-down meal, we eat almost continually from the time we wake up until we fall asleep. In other words, there is no "intermittent eating" or "intermittent fasting" going on. When we stop eating all day long and allow longer periods of time between meals, that is when we are intermittent eating and intermittent fasting.

Now before I explain some basic information about the most common fasting protocols used to treat various conditions including losing weight, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, PCOS, etc. let me say this:

If you've drifted off, are scrolling through social media, or simply running through all the things on your to do list, come back to me here for just a moment. I really want you to hear what I'm about to say because it's really important.

Intermittent eating or intermittent fasting, doesn't change what you eat.  It changes when you eat. That said if you have to force yourself to wait those extra hours in between and you feel as if you are starving yourself,  you're not eating the right things, and you're not doing your body any favors. Intermittent eating/fasting should not be something you are forcing yourself to do.  It's something that happens naturally when you are eating the right foods for your body. Any questions?  If so, please reach out - I'm happy to answer them for you!

Now let's talk about the most common types of fasting programs.  The programs below are therapeutic meaning they are used to help resolve specific conditions and as I am not a medical doctor, I am recommending that if you decide to try extended fasts, you do so with medical supervision or guidance.

Fasting Protocols
  • Time Restricted Eating: A great place to start if you want to dip your toe into the fasting pool. To follow this protocol simply stop snacking between meals and limit the time spent per meal to no more than 1 hour. That's it - No snacking and don't eat (aka fast) between meals. If you eat in the morning, afternoon, and evening, then only eat during those mealtimes and not in between. 
  • Skipping one meal per day: While many confuse this fasting protocol with Intermittent Fasting, this protocol simply has you skipping one meal per day. Instead of eating morning, afternoon, and evening, you choose to either eat morning, afternoon, or afternoon and evening. Which you choose is up to you and while there are studies that favor skipping a certain meal over another, we aren't diving that deep in this article. Which meal you choose to skip will most likely be chosen by your schedule and/or lifestyle.
  • Intermittent Fasting: 
    • 24-hour protocol - Ex: Eat dinner Monday and don't eat again until dinner Tuesday.
    • 36-hr protocol - Ex: Eat dinner Monday and don't eat again until breakfast Wednesday.
    • 42-hr protocol - Ex: Eat dinner Monday and don't eat again until lunch Wednesday.
  • Prolonged Fasting:
    • 48-hour
    • 72-hour
    • 5-day
    • 7-day

So now that you know a little bit about the most common fasting protocols used, which would you choose and why? Next week I'll provide a bit more information about why you'd choose one protocol over another and then we'll chat about what fasting does and why it is used therapeutically.

BOTTOM LINE: Fasting isn't new. It's been used in all cultures, in religious ceremonies and to improve health for thousands of years. That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to fast. There are also steps that can be taken to make the fasting process less challenging. The more you know about why and how fasting works, the easier it will be for you to decide if fasting should be added to your toolbox for better health and improved quality of life. 

If you don't make time for your health,
you'll be forced to make time for your illness.

Intermittent Fasting - Part 2
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