Intermittent Fasting. Eating late at night has become a habit for many during the past few months. Habits like this can result in weight gain, sleep interruption, reflux, and blood sugar disturbance just to name a few.
What if eating dinner earlier and delaying breakfast for an extra hour or two could result in improvements to your health?
Calorie restriction has been well researched over the years and has gained renewed attention as a means of addressing many current health concerns.
The New England Journal of Medicine published an article in December of 2019 reviewing the “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging and Disease”. A type of Intermittent Fasting that is sustainable in a busy lifestyle is called ‘time-restricted fasting’.
As the name implies, eating takes place in a 6-8 hour window followed by 12-16 hours without eating. For example, a person may only consume calories between 8 am-4 pm or 10 am-6 pm then eat nothing until the next morning in the specified window.
The key to avoiding hunger later in the evening is to be sure and eat sufficient protein and veggies at dinner.
For those individuals that work a typical work week, this fasting method can be pulsed, meaning that the individual fasts Monday through Friday and eats normally Saturday and Sunday, returning to the intermittent fasting schedule at the beginning of their workweek.
Doing this can trigger a metabolic switch that causes the body to derive its energy from ketones rather than glucose. This change in energy source through diet modification has been studied extensively in the area of brain health and cognitive function.
Last month I attended a nationally held conference where intermittent fasting was discussed along with its influences on our circadian rhythm.
This is the terminology utilized to describe our sleep-wake cycle. Many people struggle with getting restful sleep.
During sleep is the body’s best opportunity to complete a process called autophagy. This is a self-cleaning mechanism of the body to breakdown cells and recycle them.
If we are eating later at night, it does not allow the body to enter the fasting state but rather continues to work overtime and accumulate cellular debris.
If you have been told that you are “pre-diabetic” or “insulin resistant” and need to engage in diet and lifestyle modification to avoid progression to diabetes this may be a strategy you should discuss with your Doctor.
The fasting state described allows the body to become more sensitive to insulin and thereby drives down high blood sugars.
During fasting it is important to drink of water (half of your body weight in ounces of water per day), refrain from higher intensity workouts (choose exercise like walking, Pilates, yoga. bike riding, etc), and select whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods.
Of note, fasting is not recommended for individuals who are pregnant or breastfeeding, have insulin-dependent diabetes, or those who are underweight or have eating disorders.