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The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting & Time-Restricted Eating Plans

Aug 22, 2022 | Diet & Nutrition, Healthy Living

Intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating, can be good for our bodies. Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh, a naturopathic medical doctor in Spring Hill, FL, discusses how this type of eating can be good for our well-being and health.

Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, is an eating plan that aims to improve one’s health by becoming conscious of what time, how much, and why they are consuming food. With IF, you remain in a fasting state (food-free) for an extended period of time. Fasting can be 12, 16, 18 hours, or even longer, and only eating meals during a specific time range.

This type of time-restricted eating has been around for millennia. Early humans adapted to long hours, or even days, before obtaining adequate food. Ancient Greeks, like Hippocrates, Aristotle, and Plato, knew that fasting cleansed the body in many ways. Religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity have been practicing fasting since their early days.

Types of Intermittent Fasting Programs

Modern-day forms of intermittent fasting can involve several types of programs. You can change your program to one that gives your body time to expand its fat stores and provide energy to improve your life. Some popular modern plans include:

12:12
Fasting over 12 hours; eating in 12 hours, eliminating snacks after the last meal. The 12:12 plan is a good one for beginners.
16:8
Fasting 16 hours; eating in an 8-hour window of time.
20:4
Fasting 20 hours; eating in a 4-hour window of time.
6:1
Fasting for 24 hours (1 day a week); and eating a “normal schedule” of meals with snacks six days a week.
5:2
Fasting (eating 500 calories or less two days a week) and eating a “normal schedule” of three meals and snacks five days a week.
Alternate Day Fasting
Eating three meals as your schedule would allow and reducing the intake every other day to 500 calories (for example, taking two small meals).
Fasting Mimicking Diets
Consuming half as much as usual for a few days a week and then eating “normally” for 3 to 4 weeks.
OMAD
One meal a day.

So, as you can see, there are a variety of programs for intermittent fasting you can do. Finding the program that works best for you and your lifestyle is essential.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits of a time-restricted eating plan are many. However, it would be best if you still made sure that the foods you choose to eat are whole foods, preferably organic, and planned with your health in mind.

When choosing the foods you do eat, proteins, carbs, and fats of the highest quality should only be eaten. And, processed, fast, chemical-laden, hormone-laden, sugary, or artificially sweetened foods should not be consumed.

Remember, however, that your wellness should be holistic, and exercise, sunlight, love, and stress reduction should always be a part of your health plan.

Some benefits of intermittent fasting include:

  • Improved energy
  • Weight loss
  • Increased growth hormone
  • Improved gene expression
  • A renewed feeling of joy
  • Risk reduction and improvement for chronic diseases like heart, diabetes, anxiety, mood disorders, autoimmune conditions, arthritis, dementia, and more
  • Reduction in inflammation and markers that are measured
  • The need for less medications from improved health

Cautions of Intermittent Fasting

For those new to intermittent fasting, adjusting to a new way of eating will take time. However, if you make and take smart food in the body at the right time each day, it may change your well-being as you have never seen before.

Some side effects of starting a new IF plan may include:

  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Altered menstruation
  • Irritability

Remember that these symptoms are only temporary as your body is transitioning into a new way of eating.

Who Should Avoid Intermittent Fasting

Some individuals may not be a good fit for intermittent fasting. If you have concerns about starting an intermittent fasting program, please seek the advice of your health care provider first.

These individuals may include:

  • People with a history of eating disorders
  • People who are malnourished
  • Pregnant and nursing mothers
  • Women who are trying to conceive or have fertility issues
  • Children under 18
  • People with diabetes

Conclusion

So, with the many benefits that intermittent fasting provides, ask yourself why you would not make this healthful choice. The right amount of fast, taken S-L-O-W-L-Y, is a winning plan!

References and Recommended Reading

Complete Guide to Fasting book.
The Conscious Eat book.
Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh