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Intermittent Fasting Pros and Cons

Dear Jenn,

I am a middle-aged man, have a family, and am an accountant by profession. A recent blood test indicated a higher-than-normal blood sugar. My physician prescribed oral diabetic medication and recommended that I lose weight. I have tried various weight-loss diets over the years, but nothing seemed to work for me in the long run. In terms of health benefits and weight loss, what is your opinion about intermittent fasting? I am considering trying intermittent fasting to control my blood sugar and help me lose weight. Can you advise me?

Sincerely,
Fasting for Health


Dear Fasting for Health,

Thank you for writing your question and concern to The Jewish Link. Controlling blood glucose/diabetes and achievement of desired weight are big topics in nutrition these days. There are many theories of how to go about it. But to address your question regarding intermittent fasting, see below.

Intermittent fasting for health and weight-loss benefits are still being studied, but here is some information to guide you. I hope it is helpful.

Food is fuel for your body. But getting the right balance of calories and nutrients can be tricky. Intermittent fasting is one approach to eating that’s gained a lot of popularity. But is it a smart strategy, or a passing fad? So how does it work—and should you try it? Let’s explore!

 

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

A fast is a stretch of time when you go without eating. Intermittent fasting is an eating plan where you alternate between eating and not eating for a certain amount of time.

How much time? That depends. There are lots of options to choose from, but in the scientific world, you must go at least 12 hours for it to be considered “a fast.”

Time-restricted eating plans are some of the more-approachable models. With these plans, you eat every day but only during certain windows. You might eat all your meals and snacks between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., then fast the other 16 hours a day. Some people choose six-hour windows for eating, others 10 or 12.

Intense intermittent fasting plans follow the so-called 5:2 approach. One eats normally for the first five days a week and on the last two days, calories are cut by at least 75%. (For example, if you normally aim for 2,000 calories a day, you’d eat no more than 500-600 calories on fast days.)

When discussing intermittent fasting diets, liquids are allowed and encouraged to prevent dehydration.

Always talk to a health care provider before trying any low-calorie meal plans

 

Intermittent Fasting: Pros and Cons

Intermittent fasting has been shown to help with weight loss and improve some markers of health. But it’s not for everyone.

 

Pros: Intermittent Fasting Benefits

Intermittent fasting is easy to do. There are no tracking meals or counting calories. And it’s something one can fit easily into life.

Evidence shows fasting can be good for you. Scientists have done a lot of research on fasting in animals, and some in people. Those studies show a range of potential benefits, both for heart health and overall health. The benefits include:

  • Weight loss
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood sugar
  • Less inflammation
  • Better brain health
  • Fewer age-related diseases
  • Longer life

 

Cons: Intermittent Fasting Cautions and Concerns

A lot of research has been done on animals, so it’s not clear if people would get the same benefits. Early studies mostly looked at the more extreme 5:2 diet. Researchers are still exploring how helpful it is to restrict eating to eight or 12 hours a day.

What’s more, fasting might not be a good idea for certain groups or people with some health problems. Talk to your physician if you:

  • Are over 65
  • Are still growing (children, teens and young adults who haven’t finished developing)
  • Have diabetes
  • Have heart, kidney or liver disease
  • Have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Have low blood pressure

Take medications such as blood thinners, diuretics, blood pressure medications or medications that affect your blood sugar

 

Tips for Intermittent Fasting

If you want to give intermittent fasting a try, these tips will get you started:

Think About Your Lifestyle: If family dinners are important to you, it doesn’t make sense to start fasting every day at 3 p.m. Think about which option best fits your life.

Read Up: What are your goals for fasting: to lose weight, live longer, control your blood sugar? Educate yourself so you can choose the approach that makes sense for you.

Eat Well: Intermittent fasting isn’t a substitute for healthy eating. Aim to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Eating during a small window and not focusing on healthy eating can be nutritionally inadequate,

Drink Up: Make sure you drink plenty of water when fasting, so you don’t get dehydrated.

Plan Ahead: Plan and prep meals ahead of time so you have healthy foods ready to grab when you’re hungry.

Don’t Overdo It: Intermittent fasting diets that advise consuming one meal a day should probably be avoided because they tend to be nutritionally inadequate. Even the more common 5:2 plan isn’t appropriate for everyone.

Ease In: If you’re interested but worried about going a long time without eating, start small. Eat during a 12-hour window, then fast for 12 hours. Or, avoid snacking between meals. Avoiding late-night snacking gives blood glucose time to normalize overnight.

As with most eating plans, it’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor before overhauling your diet. That’s especially true if you take medications, have health problems or if you’re considering a more extreme fasting plan. But for most people, a fast of 12 to 14 hours is a safe bet. You still must make sure you’re selecting healthy food choices. Intermittent fasting is one tool that may kickstart a healthy lifestyle change.

 

Conclusion

There are many ways to lose weight, control diabetes and live well. Intermittent fasting is one method of eating that is being studied for the effects on health and well-being.

At Nutrition Transformations, it is our philosophy to encourage consumption of three healthy, nutritious meals and two to three snacks daily. For us, weight loss and maintenance are about the “calorie” and not how and when you eat them.

Eating more calories than expended = Weight Gain

Eating equal number of calories that is expended = Weight Maintenance

Eating less calories than expended = Weight Loss

We emphasize and encourage eating healthy foods, preparing recipes that are tasty and calorically wise, controlling portion sizes and calories awareness.

Equally important is learning to eat and live mindfully: understanding emotional eating and ways to avoid this destructive behavior. Lastly, incorporating enjoyable exercise into your lifestyle will boost your metabolism and keep you healthy.

If you or a person you love would benefit from much-needed weight loss, or has uncontrollable diabetes and/or health issues, reach out to us at Nutrition Transformations. We will help you control blood sugar and achieve your weight goal.

Weight-loss medication is available as determined by our on-staff physician. Call us today!

Yours in good health,

Jenn

718-644-1387

https://nu-transform.com

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