Fasting in the broadest sense is willfully not partaking of something to eat or drink for a period or intermittently. It can be a pattern that involves regular, short-term fasts or periods of minimal or no food or drink consumption. Intermittent fasting, time-restricted eating and water fasting are just some of many terms being thrown around in support of better health.
Fasting causes the energy stored in fat cells to be more accessible. Insulin levels decline which helps the body burn fat for fuel. Insulin resistance is decreased which plays a key role in lowering the risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease and Alzheimer’s.
Fasting supports the health of positive gene pathways, enhances the production of endogenous stem cells, powers the brain, increases the production of antioxidants and reduces inflammation. Fasting can lead to weight loss particularly in the belly.
For many, one of the main benefits of fasting is its simplicity. Rather than counting calories, most fasting regimes simply require you to tell time. All methods of fasting can be effective but figuring out which one works depends on the individual. A few examples of fasting:
- Abstaining from a particular food or drink such as caffeine for a period.
- The 5:2 method is intermittent fasting for two days each week and normal eating the other five days. The fasting days may be very low to no calories. According to a 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the 5:2 methods is just as effective as daily calorie restriction for weight loss and blood glucose control among those with type 2 diabetes. The late-night TV host, Jimmy Kimmel uses this method.
- Eat Stop Eat fasting method is similar to the 5:2 method. It is an intermittent fast for one or two non-consecutive days per week during for a 24-hour period.
- The 16/8 intermittent fasting plan restricts food consumption and caloric-containing beverages to a set window of 8 hours per day. Eating only during a structured time can help maintain focus but can be more difficult to maintain.
- Alternate-day fasting is an intermittent fasting plan with an easy-to-remember structure. With this method, you fast every other day but can eat whatever you want on the non-fasting days.
- The Warrior diet is an intermittent fasting plan based on the eating patterns of ancient warriors. It is more extreme than the 16/8 method and consists of eating very little for 20 hours and then eating as much food as desired throughout a 4-hour window.
With any fasting method, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and to drink lots of quality water. Fasting may make you feel ill or faint. Always consult your healthcare provider before making extreme changes in your lifestyle.
Live Long, Live Healthy!
Dr. Julie Wood is a Nurse Practitioner and has been serving the Middle Tennessee area for more than 30 years, specializing in adults with obesity, prediabetes and diabetes. Office is located at 401 First Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, TN and statewide with telehealth. Dr. Wood can be reached at 931-325-5560, www.diabetesmgtassociates.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles are meant to be informative and should never replace the advice of your health care provider.