TO ‘IF’ OR NOT TO ‘IF’
The Dish on Intermittent Fasting (IF)
By Dr. Eddie Fat-Off (Eddie Fatakhov M.D.), author of “Dr. Fat-Off Simple Life-Long Weight-Loss Solutions.”
Thanks to celebrity endorsements and media exposure, Intermittent Fasting (IF) has grown in popularity in recent years. However, before you take fasting on as a weight loss solution or a way to cure diseases such as diabetes, it is important to understand why and how IF can affect your body – both positively and negatively.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Some people mistake IF with starvation. Starvation occurs due to extreme hunger or lack of food. IF is a controlled cycling between periods of eating and not eating while food is readily available.
How do you Intermittently Fast?
Because IF is a practice unique to each individual there is no set duration or set of rules to follow. For instance, some might fast between breakfast and dinner for a predetermined amount of time. This is why many think of fasting as a way of life.
Why would you Intermittently Fast?
A good amount of research has been done to determine what the benefits of IF are. While there are varying opinions where IF is concerned these are the main benefits most can agree on:
1.) Weight Loss
IF is believed to cause weight loss because periods of not eating lowers insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that allows our bodies cells to take in the glucose created by the break down of any carbohydrates we eat. This causes weight gain when that glucose is converted to fat and put into storage for future use.
During IF cells release the stored glucose to create the energy the body needs. This plus the overall lowering of calories eaten can result in weight loss.
2.) Possible Decreased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
As previously discussed IF is believed to cause weight loss while lowering insulin levels. These two affects are key when it comes to type 2 diabetes since being obese or overweight with increasingly high insulin levels greatly increases the risk of developing this disease.
Unfortunately, this is where research is split. Some research has found evidence that IF could be beneficial for people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes while other research has found that IF can actually increase the risks through an increase in abdominal fat, bodily misuse of insulin, and muscle depletion (major risk factors for type 2 diabetes).
3.) A Healthier Heart
This report found that IF could reduce heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides (a fat linked the heart disease).
4.) A Healthier Brain
While studies on the affect IF has on humans are still needed IF seems to have promising benefits in the animal world. Studies have found IF can reduce the occurrence of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and even stroke.
5.) Reduced Cancer Risks
Animal studies are finding that IF can actually affect the rate of onset for tumors (human studies are needed).
The question becomes: To IF or not to IF?
For those thinking about IF but aren’t sure if they can do it, understand that you already experience a period of fasting every 24 hours when you sleep. As for incorporating IF into your daytime life I have one very important piece of advice for my readers.
Consult a physician before making big changes in your diet and routine. This conversation is very important when considering IF as a preventative measure or to encourage weight loss. With your doctor you can make a plan that would work best for you and your physical needs.
ABOUT DR. FAT-OFF…
Eddie Fatakhov, M.D., a.k.a. Dr. Fat-off, is a Board-Certified Physician, Nutritionist, and Best-Selling Author of "The Doctors' Clinic-30 Program. His latest book is “Dr. Fat-Off Simple Life-Long Weight-Loss Solutions.”