Intermittent Fasting

Fred Pescatore, MD and I discussed the health benefits of the low carbohydrate diet when he was on the show 4/27. Clearly, the what to eat is NOT refined carbohydrates. Off the air I mentioned to him a really bad example I had seen on a baking show–Cookie Salad. I thought it was just something concocted for the competition, but no, it is a traditional thing made with pudding, fruit, whipped topping and fudge-striped cookies. So, it is not really a salad, but more of a desert. If I’m going to eat something that unhealthful, I’d want it to be crème brulee!

I also asked Dr, Fred his opinion of when to eat. The traditional Western plan was “3 meals a day”. In contrast, some athletes try to eat every 3 hours (supposedly to keep the metabolism humming). Of late, the trend among nutrition experts has been to preach “intermittent fasting” and that is what Dr. Pescatore recommends. The photo above is from an article on the Cleveland Clinic website discussing the benefits of and guidelines for fasting.

Fasting is not a new idea. Many religions incorporate fasts for purification, focus and sacrifice. Ramadan is perhaps the most well-known fast because it is practiced from sun up to sun down for most of a month. The most common methods of intermittent fasting for health include alternate-day fasting and daily time-restricted feeding. During the fasting hours (e,g, typically 16 hours), nothing  is eaten and the only beverages permitted are no-calorie options such as water, coffee and tea.

I quote the following from an excellent article by pharmacist / nutritionist Dr. Ross Pelton writing for Essential Formulas:

“Why do most people need to spend more time each day without food intake, i.e., fasting? When nutrients are not available to cells, a cellular process named autophagy gets initiated. A Japanese scientist won the Nobel Prize in 2016 for his discovery of autophagy, which can be compared to sleeping. Sleep is our resting state, yet this doesn’t imply that nothing is happening. A great deal of our detoxification takes place during sleep.

Growth processes stop during autophagy, but a great deal of cellular renewal, rejuvenation, and detoxification occurs during this time. This is the time for cellular trash removal and cellular housekeeping. Because modern humans eat constantly, we spend far too little time in autophagy, and all of our cells are too toxic, which causes things to break down and diseases to happen over time.

… one of the most common [plans] is referred to as 16:8. This means consuming all your food for the day between noon and 8 PM [e.g. or 10am and 6pm]. Then you go from 8 PM until noon the following day with no food intake, which is a 16-hour fast. Note that this protocol does not specify that you reduce the amount of food you ingest, just that you consume all of your food within a shorter window of time.”

Another benefit of intermittent fasting is weight loss. According to the late Byron J. Richards in his book The Leptin Diet: How Fit Is Your Fat?, “A healthy person who has not eaten for four to five hours prior to bed will burn sixty percent fatty acids [fat] and forty percent sugar the last three to four hours of sleep…If a person eats before bed, it shuts off this prime fat-burning time during sleep.” [I knew Byron from my annual clinical nutrition seminars.]

We can turn the blessing that is a steady supply of food into a curse if we don’t plan to give our cells a break. And though the fasting plan covers when to eat, not what to eat, I still say, probably best to skip the cookie salad.

2 Responses

  1. Pam Dean says:

    What happened to your Saturday morning show? DFW area.

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