Don't be hangry. Good things come to those who wait.
For those of us who are trying to slim down, the idea of intermittent fasting for weight loss is both fascinating and terrifying. There’s always the fear that not eating for more than 14 hours, in order to flip our metabolism from burning carbs to burning fats, can make us a little loopy or worse yet, hangry. But man, if we are able to refrain from eating and just allow our mitochondria to help themselves out to as much fat as they need from our love handles, slipping into our favorite jeans from high school would be a piece of cake.
Not eating that piece of cake between meals and especially the hours before bedtime may give us more than just our weight loss goals. Intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol (particularly decreases bad cholesterol), decreases blood pressure, decreases markers of inflammation, and possibly improves mental clarity. In animal models, intermittent fasting even promotes longevity and reduces the occurrence of spontaneous tumors.
Despite the potential benefits, intermittent fasting is not a program to self engineer or tackle without the guidance from the doctor and nutritionist. If weight loss is the primary goal, develop a plan with a nutritionist to make sure that adequate calorie restriction (for example, a reduction of 500 to 700 calories a day) along with balanced nutrition is achieved. Improper fasting can also have dire health consequences. Intermittent fasting is contraindicated in some people, like diabetics, pregnant women, or those on medications that can result in low blood sugars.
Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle commitment and not for everyone. But even for those who are not able or not willing to commit, there are a few salient points to consider for overall well being. We don’t have to fast, but for the love of health, stop snacking, especially near bedtime. Avoid processed, calorie dense foods. Get plenty of sleep, because every night, we are intermittently fasting. So the next time we sleep in and push off breakfast til brunch, woohoo, we just did a 16 hour fast. Just go easy on the pancakes to make the weight worth the wait.