What is it?
Intermittent fasting is as it sounds, fasting intermittently! The idea is that you limit your food intake to a specific time of day, particularly to an 8-10 hour window of eating and fasting during for 14-16 hours including your sleeping hours for health benefit. This has gained popularity as of late and many research articles have been published touting the benefit. Fasting has been a practice through evolution, as food was not readily available. The food choices are not necessarily changed, just the timing of eating, to promote benefit.
Why Consider it?
Intermittent fasting has been found to improve weight loss, support glucose management and improve focus/attention and cellular healing. Most anyone can benefit from intermittent fasting!
How to do it?
Start by planning your eating window. I typically advise to keep your dinner the same time each night with your family, friends or partner. You don’t want to have to avoid eating during this social time and can lead to you breaking the fast anyway. Once you select the meal you want to eat socially, you tack on 30 min of eating time and count back 8 hours. So, if you are eating dinner at 6:30pm, you would end eating by 7:00pm and start your eating window at 11:00AM. The goal is to be consistent with your eating window times, with some variation being ok. You also want to break your fast the same time each day, even with a handful of nuts or something to break the fasting window until you can get to your lunch.
You don’t have to intermittent fast daily to derive benefit; however, consecutive days is preferred. I typically recommend Monday-Friday so you can have more versatility on weekends, however, there is no rule against intermittent fasting daily!
There is also benefit to limiting your eating window to 12 hours, as this has been shown to prevent night time eating and this reduces risk of chronic illnesses including diabetes and obesity.
When not to consider?
While intermittent fasting is very safe, I would advise those with a history of an eating disorder, if you are acutely ill or being treated for a chronic illness it would be advised to discuss if intermittent fasting would be appropriate.