Dr. Michael Wald shares his knowledge in a four part short series on the does and don’ts of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting Mistakes
I bet that you and even a few of your friends have either thought about or actually tried intermittent fasting at one time or another. The problem is that unless you know how to properly maximize intermittent fasting efforts time will be wasted - and you can actually harm yourself. What? Intermittent fasting is not all good? Incorrect fasting can cause you harm by inducing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), causing dizziness and lightheadedness, brain fog and poor energy just to name a few.
From increasing lifespan, to killing cancer cells to speeding up metabolism - intermittent fasting has been claimed to help just about every health problem that you could name from eczema to ingrown toenails.
Here is the long and short of it concerning what is real and not about intermittent fasting.
- Fasting can speed up metabolic rate. However, unless the efforts are backed by consistent and repeated fasts any increase in metabolism is short term and will not likely add up to weight loss or health gains.
- Most of the weight loss from intermittent fasting is from water. If you really want to know if your efforts are causing fat loss that is much more permanent than you have to measure your lean body mass. In short, you want more lean body mass (organ mass and lean muscle) that burns fat. Gaining of lean mass is equivalent to an increased health and life span. Just weight loss from water or even from fat without grain in lean organ mass is short term. I measure a bioimpedance test that measure your exact metabolic rate, percentage of muscle, water and fat and lean body mass for all patients who are serious about health gains from intermittent fasting.
- It is still to be proved whether or not intermittent fasting improves the lifespan of humans, but mice do live longer when they are exposed to regular fasting efforts that are low in calories and high in nutrition density.
- You probably already know that there are several variations of the intermittent fasting approach including 16/8 where you fast for 16 hrs and eat during the 8 hour window (14-15 hr fast for women). How do you know which method is for you? You cannot know unless you have had the properly laboratory tests done, but detailed health consultation so that the practitioner can put it all together. If a patient of mine has blood sugar issues, or food allergies or any amount of inflammation for example, then they may need a certain length of fasting to cover the organs that are in need of a physiological-rest. So I recommend that anyone serious about intermittent fasting have a full blood panel done that is nutritionally interpreted comparing your results not to men and women your age, but to health men and women your age - different standard of health equals different health potential.
- I have seen dozens of patients who were well intentioned that performed intermittent fasting that triggered their thyroid to slow down, that promoted inflammation by stressing the bodies adrenal glands and disrupted hormones ultimately having a negative effect upon health.
Here is how to do intermittent fasting right for weight loss that is more permanent or any result that you are serious about curing or making much better for the long run. Keep in mind that unless you repeat healthy behaviors overtime and consistently you will not realize long term results - and intermittent fasting is no exception to this health rule.
Get These Things Done!
- Blood and urine testing to look at specific metabolic and nutritional problems. Including tests of inflammation and absorption and malabsorption. If you are malabsorbing then your body will not "interpret" intermittent food consumption correctly. If you are deficient in certain antioxidants (remember, you are not what you eat but what you absorb), then fasting without food can promote oxidation.
- Take what is learned from the tests and determined the correct foods to add during the eating phase of the fast. Just eating anything without paying attention to what your nutritional needs actually are is pointless and largely a waste of time if not harmful to health.
- The use of organ specific and goal specific questionnaires combined with lab work to determined how and when and which sorts of nutritional supplements you will need to optimize your fasting results.
-Sometimes my patients will need repeated fasting efforts of different amounts of time involving variations of foods, nutritional supplements and exercise all timed appropriately.
So why should you do intermittent fasting right? The reason is because when done correctly it can boost your bodies ability to get healing done. A single session of intermittent fasting, even when done correctly, is not healing, but a bandaid. You deserve to live well without significant or any disability. Intermittent fasting is one tool that if done right can add to your overall health efforts. Stop wasting your time on supplements and generalized, non-specific (not personalized) fasting and health efforts. Be smart! END.