Do you feel:
- Hungry in an hour or two after eating?
- Unexplained weight gain?
- Hormonal imbalances?
- An overall sense of bloating?
- A sense of fullness during and after meals?
If you are experiencing any of these situations, then try considering intermittent fasting.
Since becoming popular in recent years, intermittent fasting is a dietary approach that lots of individuals have been using in their healthy lifestyle. During the time of the hunter-gatherer society, people have used this method for centuries as a way of survival. Studies have been shown that people used it for medicinal purposes throughout history as a medicinal remedy. Ancient Rome, Greek and Chinese civilizations used intermittent fasting in their daily lives. Fasting has even been used for spiritual reasons in certain religions, like Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity as individuals use it as a way to reflect on themselves and be closer to their deities.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is where a person does not consume food or beverages at least for twelve hours during the day. When a person starts fasting, they will notice that their metabolism and their hormones will change in their bodies. There is upcoming research that intermittent fasting can promote amazing health benefits to the body. The health benefits that intermittent fasting provides are weight loss, protective effects in the brain, decreased inflammation and improving blood glucose and insulin levels in the body.
The Different Methods
There are other methods of fasting that involves fasting from food for several days or weeks. With these different methods, they involve a shorter period that is between 16 to 24 hours. Several types of intermittent fasting are determined by the feeding window duration (when to eat the food) and the fasting window (when to avoid the food). Here are some of the other methods of fasting, which includes:
- Time-restricted feeding (TRF): This type of fasting has a feeding window period from 4 to 12 hours. For the remainder of the day, water is the only thing that is allowed to be consumed. The common variation to eat this type of fasting is 16/8. This means that a person has to fast at least 16 hours every day.
- Early time-restricted feeding (eTRF): This is a different variety of time-restricted fasting that is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. After the 6 hours are up, the rest of the day is made up of this fasting period.
- Alternate day fasting (ADF): This type of fasting involves a person eating one day and the next day they completely fast. They alternate between eating and fasting each day to get the benefits.
- Period fasting (cycling fasting): This type of fasting involves one or two days fasting per week and for the fifth or sixth days of eating as much as a person desire. The variety of period fasting can be a 5:2 or a 6:1.
- Modified fasting: This type of fasting has some methods of intermittent fasting that are similar to alternate-day fasting, but this fasting can be modified for anyone. A person can consume very-low-calorie substances during the fasting window period.
How Does It Work?
Intermittent fasting is the result of changes in the body as the hormone patterns and energy metabolism are being affected. Once a person finishes consuming food, the contents are being broken down and transforming into nutrients, so it can be absorbed into the digestive tract. What happens is that the carbohydrates are broken down and turn into glucose and absorb into the bloodstream, distributing it into the body’s tissue as the essential source of energy. The insulin hormone then helps regulate the blood glucose levels by signaling cells to take the sugars from the blood and turning into fuel for the body to function properly.
With intermittent fasting, a person is done with a meal and their glucose levels are depleted from the body. For the energy to meet its requirements the body has to break down the glycogen that is found in the liver and skeletal muscles causing gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is when the liver produces glucose sugars from non-carbohydrate sources in the body. Then once the insulin levels are low after 18 hours of fasting, a process called lipolysis begins. What lipolysis does is that the body begins to break down the fat components into free fatty acids. When there is a low quantity of glucose for the body to consume for energy, the body itself with start using fatty acids and ketones for energy. Ketosis is a metabolic state where liver cells start to help fatty acids breakdown and converting them into ketone acetoacetate and beta-hydro butyrate.
The muscle cells and neuron cells use these ketones to generate ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which is the main carrier for energy. Research has stated that the usage and availability of fatty acids combined with ketones as an energy replacement for glucose are beneficial for vital body tissues. This includes the heart, the liver, the pancreas, and the brain.
The four metabolic states are induced by fasting are referred to as the fast-fed cycle, and they are:
- The fed state
- The post-absorptive state
- The fasting state
- The starvation state
The physiological effect of intermittent fasting can also be achieved by following a ketogenic diet, which is very high fat and low carbohydrate diet. This diet’s purpose is to shift the body’s metabolic state into ketosis.
The Benefits of Fasting
There are tons of research that have demonstrated how intermittent fasting has a wide variety of health benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Type 2 diabetes prevention and management
- Improved cardiometabolic risk factors
- Cellular cleansing
- Decreased inflammation
Studies have been shown that several proposed mechanisms are responsible for these health effects of intermittent fasting and have proven to be beneficial to a person’s lifestyle.
Intermittent fasting has been practiced for centuries and has gain popularity in recent years. It involves abstaining from consuming foods for at least 12 consecutive hours by turning the fat cells into energy for the body to function. The health benefits that intermittent fasting provides is beneficial for an individual who is trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some products help provide support to the gastrointestinal system as well as making sure that sugar metabolism is at a healthy level for the body to function.
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Dhillon, Kiranjit K. “Biochemistry, Ketogenesis.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 Apr. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493179/#article-36345.
Hue, Louis, and Heinrich Taegtmeyer. “The Randle Cycle Revisited: a New Head for an Old Hat.” American Journal of Physiology. Endocrinology and Metabolism, American Physiological Society, Sept. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2739696/.
Stockman, Mary-Catherine, et al. “Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight?” Current Obesity Reports, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5959807/.
Zubrzycki, A, et al. “The Role of Low-Calorie Diets and Intermittent Fasting in the Treatment of Obesity and Type-2 Diabetes.” Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: an Official Journal of the Polish Physiological Society, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30683819.