Intermittent Fasting in Ann Arbor, MI
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING?
Intermittent fasting has become really popular over the past few years. With positive side effects such as weight loss, improved blood sugar, lowered cholesterol, decreased inflammation, what's not to like? But what exactly is it and how does it work? Let's take a deeper look.
Intermittent fasting is simply taking a break from eating. In our modern day, we are constantly bombarded with food from every angle. Commercials enticing us with delicious addictive snacks, late night parties with too much alcohol you can't help but get the munchies, or simply the convenience and availability of food whenever you want. Yes it's great to get a cupcake anytime you want, but is it really great to be eating all the time? No. This is NOT natural to our physiology.
Let's take a look at it from an ancestral health perspective since our physiologies are still wired like our predecessors. We are wired for feast and famine. Our ancestors had to make a concerted effort to go hunt and gather food. Food wasn't always available so when they ate, they also stored fat for the times that food was scarce. But in today's society, we no longer have scarcity of food. Yet we continue to feast. Combine this with the lack of activity, stress, processed foods, and lack of sleep, you now have the perfect recipe for disease.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TODAY?
According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading causes of death and disability in the United States are1 :
- Chronic Lung Disease
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Chronic Kidney Disease
What do they all have in common? Lifestyle. Poor lifestyle habits contribute to the pathology of these various conditions. The problem with our current medical approach is that we are using medication to treat a lifestyle issue which does not really make a whole lot of sense. We really should be using lifestyle to treat a lifestyle issue and if needed, use medications and supplements as adjunct tools.
WHY IS IT BENEFICIAL?
Fasting activates a process called Autophagy. This literally means to "eat one's self." In autophagy, old organelles and proteins are degraded in the garbage disposal of the cell called a lysosome. Once everything is broken down into pieces, the materials are then recycled for use again.
"In addition..., autophagy promotes cellular senescence... giving it a key role in preventing diseases such as cancer, neurodegeneration, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and infections."2
Enough of the "geeky" stuff. When does autophagy occur? We don't really know yet. But based on some data, probably somewhere between 17- 24 hours of fasting.
The big takeaway point is that if you are constantly eating, your energy will go towards digesting your food and not towards the cleansing of your cells and repair of your body. This eventually leads to dis-ease.
CAN YOU MEASURE AUTOPHAGY?
Not yet. There are no labs available to the public to measure autophagy. LC3-II is a protein that is currently being investigated in research studies only.
METABOLIC EFFECTS OF FASTING
Insulin is the hormone that tells glucose (sugar) to come into the cell. When we are constantly eating, your insulin remains high, which then can lead to insulin resistance where you need higher and higher amounts of the hormone to get the signal through to the cell to allow glucose to enter.
Fasting allows your insulin and blood sugar to come back to normal. In the process of your body trying to keep blood sugar stable in the absence of food, your body starts to burn it's own glycogen stores and fat to keep your metabolic processes functioning.
Once you have been fasting regularly for about 3 months, you can also start to see improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and HgA1C. Impressive, right?
TYPES OF FASTING
TIME RESTRICTED EATING
This is a type of fasting where you simply restrict the amount of hours you eat in the day. Common examples of this are:
- 12 hours fasting: 12 hours eating
- 16 hours fasting: 8 hours eating
- 18 hours fasting: 6 hours eating
- OMAD (One Meal a Day)
This is where individuals eat their normal diet for 5 days out of the week and out 2 days of the week, intake is restricted to 500-600 calories.
This can be anywhere from 2-7 days.
No food or water taken in during this time. Most fasting protocols tend to include water.
FASTING MIMICKING DIET
5 days at a time where calories are restricted about 40% of normal intake per day and given in such a way that does not take away from the benefits of fasting. The remaining 25 days, individuals return to their normal, healthy diet.
SIDE EFFECTS OF FASTING
- Vitamin and Mineral Depletion (in longer fasts)
- Muscle aches
- Low blood sugar
WHO SHOULD NOT FAST
- The elderly or extremely sick
- Children (overnight fasts should be fine)
- Pregnant/lactating women
- Someone under severe stress (physical or emotional)
- Individuals with unresolved eating disorders
- Underweight individuals
MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN FASTING
- Using it as an excuse to binge on whatever you want during the eating window. Fasting is meant to supplement a healthy diet only.
- Jumping into a long aggressive fast too soon. This sets people up for failure in the long run and does not allow for the body to adapt smoothly
- Not eating enough calories during your eating window
- Not hydrating enough
- Drinking the wrong liquids (artificially sweetened beverages)
- Over exercising
- Poor sleep
- Poor stress management
One of the most important aspects of incorporating fasting correctly that people often miss because it has become so trendy is that it is actually is a stressor on the body. If you do not have your sleep or stress under control, you actually may be doing more harm than good. This is why it is important to look at all aspects of your lifestyle prior to incorporating a fasting regimen and work with a practitioner to safely incorporate it. This helps set you up for long term success.
As you can see, there are many therapeutic benefits of fasting which can make it a wonderful addition to a lifestyle program. However, if incorporated incorrectly, it can cause more harm than good. Always speak with your practitioner prior to incorporating a fasting program. We hope this fasting review was helpful for you!