I have recently become a huge fan of intermittent fasting. While I am not 100% certain, I am beginning to believe that we simply bombard our bodies with too much food, too often. We eat a lot, and we eat all the time! Even worse, we tend to eat a lot of processed, unnatural foods that doom us to the grasp of chronic disease…
Recently, I committed to a 6-week trial of intermittent fasting after finding out (that’s why we all need primary care doctors!) that I have genetically high cholesterol secondary to a lack of a certain type of “cholesterol processing” receptor in my body (familial hypercholesterolemia, which requires medication to treat). Over that 6-week period of intermittent fasting, my cholesterol not only dropped to a much greater extent than with medication alone, but I also lost about 15 pounds of body fat in the process!
If you are unfamiliar with intermittent fasting, there are multiple protocols that you can adapt, but the one I favor is the 16:8 protocol. The 16:8 protocol involves 16 hours of fasting each day, while leaving 8 hours during the day to eat healthy foods. It may sound difficult to fast for 16 hours every day, but most of the fasting time was scheduled during times of sleep. So, I would basically skip breakfast and allow myself to eat 2-3 meals between the hours of 2-10pm.
I must admit extreme skepticism in the fasting plan. But now I am pretty much sold… Not only did I achieve excellent results, there is emerging research to back it up.
In June of 2014, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah identified the biological process of intermittent fasting that pulls LDL (bad) cholesterol out of fat cells to be used for energy. They noted that after 10-12 hours of fasting, the body utilizes LDL cholesterol stored in fat cells for energy! Discovering this biological process was important because a previous study noted that LDL cholesterol levels were increased during the fasting period. Well, this study suggests why − it is being transported out of cells to be used as fuel. They also note again in this study that LDL levels were high during fasting, but were about 12 percent lower at the end of the 6 weeks.
While these results are encouraging, the population of the study was limited to participants with prediabetes between the ages of 30-69. Therefore, caution must be used when generalizing these results to those who are not in this demographic. Also, we still do not know how long people should fast, how often or which protocol is best.
If you are interested in intermittent fasting, consider at least trying it out for one month to see how it affects you. If you have any health conditions, just run your fasting plan by your doctor first.
Finally, I must stress, that I have never been more interested (excited!) about a diet/lifestyle way of eating than intermittent fasting.
If you decide to try it, I hope that it will also work for you.