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What Are the Health Benefits of Fasting?

couple exerciseTime-restricted eating. The 5-2 diet. Alternate day fasting. It’s no secret that fasting has become wildly popular because of some of the potential benefits: healthy heart and blood sugar levels, weight loss, boosted brain function, decreased risk of disease, and more.

“When it comes down to eating and fasting, it’s time dependent and about knowing that one calorie doesn’t equate to one calorie. So, for example, a calorie of sugar is not equal to a calorie of fat; it’s going to interact with your body differently,” said Dr. Mat.

He explains that sugar is going to increase insulin production significantly higher than, say, a calorie of fat. “‘Calories in, calories out’ is not a good rule of thumb, because they’re not equal. So it’s dependent not only on what you’re eating but also with the timing of eating as well,” he added.

The Problem With the Graze Craze

While many people think having several smaller meals daily is healthy, the reality is many people who eat more frequently throughout the day are overweight and doing more harm to their body. By grazing, particularly if you’re consuming nutritionally bankrupt simple carbs, you have a constant, higher level of insulin throughout the day.

As that insulin is constantly at an increased level in your bloodstream, that will eventually cause what’s called insulin resistance. The receptors on those cells will not be as sensitive to the insulin, and you’re going to increase fat production.

How to Do an Intermittent Fast

If you’re ready to try fasting, consider an intermittent approach. You could start off simple with an 18-hour fast. So after dinner one night, you will not eat again, until lunch the next day. You could do that for a Monday, and then Tuesday you can eat normally and then on Wednesday fast again. Then Thursday, eat normally and then Friday fast. With this schedule you’re fasting three times throughout the week, which can yield some tremendous health dividends.

By doing a shorter fast, you’re going to break down a lot of the glucose stores first, because that’s considered the easiest. As you get into longer fasts, you’re going to break down fat.

“Fasting is like providing a system check in that it’s going to normalize your hormones and insulin levels, and you’ll start losing weight and start feeling better,” said Dr. Mat.

Whichever type of fast you do, it’s also important to stay well-hydrated, drinking about two liters of water, depending on your size.

For more information about fasting, or to book an appointment, give our practice a call today!

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