Definitions: Intermittent fasting is the limiting of calorie consumption to a portion of a day, typically a 6 or 8 hour “window.” The rest of the day is for 0-calorie items such as water, black coffee, diet soda, etc. It’s important to stay hydrated during the fasting period. The liquid you would normally get from food needs to be replaced.
What we knew: I wrote several blogs on IF8-16 (16 hours of fasting) earlier this year. There have been more than 18 formal clinical trials now testing the value of this diet. Key benefits include:
- Weight loss (at an average rate of 10-15 pounds per month, based on personal experience)
- Reduction in blood sugar levels
- The ability to put Type 2 diabetes into remission without the use of drugs, even allowing patients to stop use of insulin (subject to medical supervision, of course). We personally know two people who were able to stop insulin, and I was able to avoid starting on medication using this diet.
- Reset gut bacteria and strengthen the immune system.
- No food restrictions, just common sense in terms of quantity
Now we know more.
Metabolic syndrome: “Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
“Having just one of these conditions doesn’t mean you have metabolic syndrome. But it does mean you have a greater risk of serious disease. And if you develop more of these conditions, your risk of complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, rises even higher.”(1)
A new clinical trial establishes Intermittent Fasting as a treatment for metabolic disease.(2) The trial was a more generous version of IF, with a 10-hour calorie window, allowing for three meals per day. The 6- or 8-hour versions typically involve moving to a two-meal schedule. Over three months, the 10-hour version produced a 3% reduction in each of weight, BMI, and abdominal fat.
“Also, many participants showed a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as improvements in fasting glucose. They also reported having more energy, and 70% reported an increase in the amount of time they slept or experienced sleep satisfaction.”(2)
This is a great strategy for starting the New Year. I’m doing it.
An excellent way to do this is to start with your annual physical exam including blood workup. That will give you a benchmark for weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar against which to measure your progress. Of course, your doc needs to know what you’re doing, especially if medications need to change as a result of a healthier you.