Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy that involves only consuming food during set periods of time. The focus is on when you eat, not what you eat. There are different types of intermittent fasting. One common approach, often referred to as time-restricted eating, is to eat during an eight-hour window every day while fasting during the other 16 hours. This could look like:
- fasting midnight to 8 a.m.
- having the option to eat between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- fasting 4 p.m. until the next day
Benefits of intermittent fasting may include:
- weight loss (due mostly to reduced calorie intake)
- improved heart health
- decreased blood pressure
- reduction in body fat
- improved control of type 2 diabetes (including reduced insulin requirements in those taking insulin)
Risks of intermittent fasting include:
- increased hunger and cravings
- loss of muscle mass
- Water and other zero-calorie beverages can and should be consumed during fasting periods.
- While the focus is on when you eat more than what you eat, this does not mean that you can consume very large amounts of food during your eating window. It is still important to make healthy food choices and to ensure adequate protein intake.
Intermittent fasting may be helpful for some people and harmful for others. Under the supervision of a doctor, it could be used by people who want to lose weight, have type 2 diabetes or want to lower their blood pressure. It should not be used by people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, under the age of 18, have an eating disorder or have type 1 diabetes.
Always consult with your medical provider before starting intermittent fasting or other diets. If you need assistance with managing your weight, click here to view our weight loss specialties.