Intermittent fasting is becoming the new fad but is it really healthy? The answer is both Yes and No.
First, I’ll warn you, if you have low blood sugar issues, severe HPA axis adrenal fatigue issues, certain autoimmune issues, or thyroid issues, then fasting may not be your friend until you have found more balance in your health. Fasting can help bring some people into balance, and can throw other people off balance. It’s not a quick fix for everyone.
Intermittent fasting can be defined as withholding food for 16-20 hours, followed by a period of eating. Other kinds of intermittent fasting include alternate day fasting; eating one day and then consuming no food the next day. When you fast, it’s important to drink plenty of water. There are “dry” fasts, where water is also withheld, but this has dire health consequences and should not be done.
I’ve found, through my own fasting journey as well as working with patients, that fasting during sleeping hours and through the beginning of your day is often easiest, although occasionally someone may prefer to eat breakfast and then fast the rest of the day and night. I’ve also found that alternate day fasts can be beneficial. I recommend weaning yourself into the fast. Begin by just skipping breakfast and lunch, but eat dinner. Then the next day eat all three meals, make sure they are healthy and full of fat and a variety of leafy green vegetables and proteins. Then fast the following day, see if you can go without all three meals, or just have a small snack at night. Soon you will comfortably alternate fasting days with eating healthfully days. It can take a week or so for your metabolism to adjust to the new regimen. I recommend not exercising during the first week of alternate fasting days, but after that you will likely feel more energized. Find what is best for your body, mind, and lifestyle.
I sometimes recommend liquid fasts. On my holistic keto for gut health plan you may choose to fast for 16-20 hours followed by a period of 4-8 hours of eating. Or you may choose to introduce a healthy fat drink during fasting time. Achieving or remaining in ketosis is optimal and my healthy fat drinks can do the trick. I’ll be sending my healthy fat drink recipe in my upcoming newsletter, let’s be friends- join my community and stay tuned. Receive my 5 secrets to vibrant health for free, and sign up for my newsletter here: https://www.kristingraycemcgary.com/gift/
Caution: I’ve worked with a few women with a history of anorexia or bulimia who conveniently use the fasting fad to engage in unhealthy patterns around food and self-sustenance. One woman I met was very very thin, unhealthfully so, but she conveniently fit the imbalanced socially acceptable view of an American model. She had large breast implants and was a high-profile coach. Many people admire her and think her body is perfect. Her ribs showing, and her clavicles protruding were a sure sign of various nutrient deficiencies. A little fasting can be great, but weeks, months, and years can lead to serious health problems. It needs to be done properly to be beneficial, any extremes can cause damage.
If you have Poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) then balancing your blood sugar is necessary Before you begin fasting. One tip is eating dinner for breakfast, like chicken, veggies, and healthy fats or salmon and veggies; don’t skip meals yet; cut back on carbohydrates-no more than 75 a day and eventually down to 30 or so. This is low carb but not quite keto for most people.
Intermittent fasting has it’s place with a conventional keto as well as holistic keto for gut health type nutritional plan. Fasting has been used as a therapy for health since Hippocrates wrote about it as a treatment for epilepsy. Fasting was being used in Western medicine as early as 1911 to control seizures. However, often when people began eating again, symptoms returned. It was discovered that a high fat, low carb diet rendered similar metabolic results as fasting and the therapeutic ketogenic diet was born. Fasting does work well to bring you into or keep you in ketosis too.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Benefits the expression of certain genes.
- Fat burning and weight loss
- Immune system reboot
- Lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Reduced blood pressure and heart rate
- Improved brain function
- Decreases insulin resistance
- Decreases levels of inflammation
- Increases Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
- 10. Improves longevity
You don’t have to be keto to benefit from fasting. It’s best to first understand how your body is doing. I use a comprehensive functional blood chemistry panel to discover any underlying imbalances, to see if fasting may be right for your health. About 20 years ago I was doing some fasting before it was popular. However, it really wasn’t very good for my body. My fasting blood sugar was about 69 (86-99 is healthy). This was way to low and meant that when I was fasting my poor adrenals were kicking out cortisol and my body was literally going into a survival mode. My brain, other organs, and biological systems were being very stressed by this. It wasn’t until I stabilized my blood sugar that intermittent fasting began to have benefits for me. I listen to my body and when it doesn’t want to fast, I don’t. For example, if I’ve been traveling, having late night flights, at a tango event until all hours of the morning and night, then fasting is likely not a good choice. But if I’m at home, in the jungle and on my favorite sacred river in Costa Rica, writing a book, exercising at the right time in the right way, and sleeping well, then fasting may be of incredible benefit. I teach my patients to listen to their body and follow what is best according to their lab markers, lifestyle, and health goals.
Please don’t do anything stupid and hurt yourself. Your body and soul are precious to me, your family, your community and the world. Please work with someone who has both training and experience. I recently saw a woman on Facebook who has quite a large following of sick people, desperate for answers. She is promoting all kinds of fasting, including water fasts for weeks. I learned that two people have died under her care and none of her Facebook “fans” have any clue that she has no credentials as a “health coach”, and is just someone who stumbled upon fasting and now wants to promote it as the cure for everything. I sincerely care about your health and well-being. Please don’t fall pray to these kinds of health scams.
Intermittent fasting works very well with a holistic ketogenic nutritional program as well as with paleo, primal, and any balanced eating plan. There are many health benefits so I strongly encourage you to go for it, but always do so under the supervision of a credentialed and skilled healthcare provider.
Blessings of Vibrant Health,
Kristin Grayce McGary
Health & Lifestyle Alchemist