Time-Restricted & Intermittent Fasting Techniques
What are they? What Benefits Could They Offer?
Eating a plant-based diet has many health benefits overeating a conventional Western style diet. In addition to eating a plant-based diet, even more health benefits can be realized by altering the “time of day” that you eat plant-based foods. Two people, consuming the exact same number of calories but doing so during different time periods during the day will have different outcomes on weight gain and blood chemistry. Time-restricted feeding is a technique that limits all food intakes to a 10-12-hour window in any given day. Time-restricted feeding does not allow any eating when you are outside of the food intake window for the other 12–14 hours each day. Ideally, all food should be consumed from 7am to 7pm or 8am to 8pm, etc. Also, your last meal of the day should be three hours or more before our natural sleep time. Eating this way, and avoiding food outside the eating hours, realigns your body with your natural Circadian Rhythm and results in health benefits overeating and snacking early in the morning and late into the night. Our “never sleep” society promotes eating whenever we feel hungry and this can be dangerous for good health. Another way to promote good health and manage caloric intake is utilizing a widely talked about dietary strategy know as Fasting.
Fasting has been around for thousands of years. Some societies fast for religious reasons, or other spiritual benefit, and some fast due to seasonal food scarcity or for overall health management. Science does support the notion that an anti-aging strategy is to reduce caloric intake and of course to be selective in the quality of food you eat when you are not fasting. Many variations of fasting exist, and you may consider finding one that is right for you. Something newer in this fasting concept is a technique called Intermittent Fasting.
Intermittent Fasting is just what it sounds like; going for extended times (hours or days) without food while taking in only water to maintain hydration. During the non-fasting times a regular diet grounded on the principles of your dietary strategy is followed. During the fast your body repairs and the aging process slows down. During this time, you can also have improvements in certain blood chemistry biomarkers like Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, A1C, HsCRP, inflammation, and Insulin Growth Factor to name a few. You also avoid many of the food borne and lifestyle illness that come with overeating and eating the wrong foods.
However, going intermittently (especially multiple days) without food does not come without some consequences. If you are used to caffeine, sugar, or alcohol you may experience some withdrawal symptoms such as: headaches, cravings, and extreme hunger as your body adjusts. Some will also experience drops in blood sugar and may become dizzy or tired due to their fuel tank being empty. Since most Americans tend to overeat, most will ultimately benefit from Intermittent Fasting, but often will have a couple of “tough” days while adjusting. Of course, we can’t fast forever so at some point we have to reengage with some dietary strategy. Consider - if you’re not mindful of watching what you eat as a general strategy and are careless with sugar and caloric intake, this technique may not be the best one for you.
Before you begin any fast, ask your medical professional if an Intermittent Fasting program is right for you.
Doug Thompson, DDS, FAAMM, ABAAHP, has a private practice in Michigan, Integrative Oral Medicine, and is founder of the Wellness Dentistry Network – an online hub of resources and community for dental & medical teams implementing oral systemic protocols into practice. He’s a faculty member at the prestigious Kois Center in Seattle, completed a Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine and is a published author including a chapter contribution to the medical text book: Precision and Personalized Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine.