Intermittent Fasting refers to periods of not eating or intensely restricting calories. It can be a powerful tool in helping lose weight, decreasing inflammation, decreasing brain fog, sending your antioxidants into high gear and more. There are four Functional Medicine approaches to Intermittent Fasting supported by the Institute for Functional Medicine:
Time-Restricted Feeding. This method limits the time of each day that you eat. Eating is typically done through the day and fasting lasts 12-16 hours through the evening and overnight. For example, on a 12-hour fast schedule, you would eat 3 regular meals during the day then have no more food after 7 pm until breakfast the next morning at 7 am. Time-Restricted Feeding is usually done daily.
Alternate Day Fasting. Alternate Day Fasting refers to fasting every other day or every third day, for example. On fasting days, fasters typically either don’t eat at all or restrict to no more than 600 calories per day. Alternate Day Fasting is usually done weekly.
Modified Fasting. This term describes restricting calories by 20-30% or reducing to 600 calories per day for a specified number of days per week. Modified Fasting is usually kept up weekly too.
Fasting Mimicking Diet. This is a 5-day very low calorie, low-carb, ketogenic food plan. The idea is to consume a little bit of fat and other nutrients daily to help trick your body into “thinking” it’s fasting so you get the benefit of fasting while you still get to eat some food. The Fasting Mimicking Diet has been shown in a few studies to improve body composition, enhance cellular function, and lower blood pressure after three consecutive cycles.
During all periods of prolonged fasting proper hydration, vitamin, mineral, and electrolyte levels should be maintained. Anyone with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or recurring hypoglycemia, should avoid Intermittent Fasting unless you’re closely monitored by your doctor. Those who are frail, pregnant, breastfeeding, individuals with eating disorders, or cardiac or certain hormonal disorders should avoid fasting altogether. You should work with your Functional Medicine doctor to determine if Intermittent Fasting is right for you and to help you choose which approach will best help you meet your health goals.