The Latest on the Science of Intermittent Fasting
Welcome Spring! The weather is warming up, and with all seasons of spring we start stripping off the layers. So naturally, people begin their‘Spring Break Bod’ plans [#SpringBreak2020]. There are so many different diets out there that claim to help with weight loss and disease prevention: low-fat, low-carb, ketogenic, paleo, whole 30, vegetarian, vegan, DASH, Mediterranean, MIND, etc. But I want to talk to you about one of the latest trends: the science of intermittent fasting, otherwise known as IF in the world of food and nutrition.
You may be used to eating three meals every day, plus snacks. That’s pretty common. With intermittent fasting you can essentially eat how much of whatever you want—but here’s the catch: you have to stay on schedule. With intermittent fasting there are scheduled periods of time when you can eat and others when you have to fast. Unlike most other diets, intermittent fasting tells you when to eat, not what to eat.
And, many people say that it can help lead you to better health and a longer life.
Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of intermittent fasting.
How to intermittently fast
Most of the diets that help achieve weight loss work by reducing the number of calories consumed. Intermittent fasting does the same thing, but in a different way. This way of eating significantly limits calories (requiring fasting) for certain durations of time (intermittently), while allowing little or no restrictions the rest of the time.
Intermittent fasting essentially means skipping meals on a regular basis, sometimes daily, weekly, or monthly. Here are a few different approaches:
- Time-restricted feeding—Having all of your meals during an 8 to 12 hour window each day, drinking only water the rest of the day.
- Alternate day fasting—Eating normally one day but only a minimal number of calories the next; alternating between “feast” and “famine”.
- 5:2 eating pattern—Consuming meals regularly for five days per week, then restricting to no more than 600 calories per day for the other two. This happens by eating very little and drinking only water on those two fasting days.
- Periodic fasting—Caloric intake is restricted for several consecutive days and unrestricted on all other days. For example, fasting for five straight days per month.
Happy January, welcome to 2020! Brand new year, brand new decade.
Health is more than just about the food and exercise. Let me explain what I mean. Our body is a whole person of interworking systems, which is why when it comes to your health your body is not a mistake. Dramatic pause ...
This is the time of year we all choose to be better, to do better. And really, it’s great that we’re wishing to invest in ourselves. This wish is much needed, as we’ve seen over the last century there has been a dramatic shift in the number of acute to chronic diseases. Acute diseases are those that are “brief”, short in duration, a hospital visit for an infection that is quickly treated, such as pneumonia. The latter, chronic diseases, are those that are persistent or otherwise long-lasting in their effects. Examples of these include, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, cancer and depression.
In America nearly 1 in every 2 people is living with a chronic condition. In the hospital I work at, I see patients on a daily basis being treated acutely for their chronic condition(s). By this, I mean the hospitalist will treat the patient to ensure they survive, but simply does not have the resources to teach the patient to thrive. Enter, functional medicine nutrition therapy.
The Integrative & Functional Medicine Nutrition Therapy (IFMNT) radial is a tool used to help assess clients. One of the main areas of focus is lifestyle, within lifestyle includes twelve separate areas, food being only one of them! Although each area has a much more expansive effect than what I’m able to describe in a two-page paper. The purpose of me sharing these areas of focus is so that you understand the complexity of our bodies. So that when you begin to make lifestyle changes, you slowly piece each of these together as you strive for true, long-lasting health.
We’ll begin with our environment. This topic is broad and may include anything from the round up you spray on your lawn that trickles into our water system that you drink, to the products you put on your face. It’s been said that the average woman leaves her home in the morning with over 200 different chemicals being applied to her body. Many of these chemicals may be harmful and foreign to our human bodies. Our skin is in fact, the largest organ in our body, and no doubt absorbs what we put on it!
Similar to what we put on our bodies, is what we put in our bodies. This includes supplements, or perhaps medications we take. How many pills or powders do you take each day? Did you have testing done to give reason for taking them? Do you still need them, or perhaps were they only necessary to pull you out of a hole? It’s always good to reassess supplements, because with any benefit there’s the potential for imbalances, or competition with another nutrient. Supplements absolutely have their time and place but be sure you’re not just continuing on a path blindly, and always opt for the food first approach!
How to Boost your Health with Delicious Coffee
There’s little better than a warm, aromatic, comforting cup of coffee in the morning. It is one of the most beloved drinks of Americans, in fact it’s estimated that 83% of the United States population drinks at least one cup daily. Most people would agree that the drink started out as a caffeine jolt (maybe during late nights studying for college courses, or in the first days of their new baby’s life). For most, the beverage gradually morphed into a daily ritual, something they could plan on. Coffee comes in many different mugs; some like it lightly roasted, others black and bold, and some can’t have it without a good dollop of sugar, cream or maybe even a little Bailey’s? Hopefully it goes without saying (though I will anyway), that all of these additives can break the benefits that come with a health conscious brand of coffee. Read on to learn whether coffee is good for you … spoiler alert, ~ 83% of you will be pleased with the findings, and the rest of you aren’t reading this article anyway! :)
Coffee is one of those habits that constantly receives mixed health reviews. Did you know that coffee is actually the richest source of antioxidants in the western diet, more than even ‘superfoods’ like blueberries and kale? This comparison is based on 100 gram weights of said food/drink. Antioxidants are important because they’re anti-aging, free-radical fighting compounds - these are the shields that defend our cells from damage (a.k.a cell oxidation = cell aging).
How to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays
One to five. This is the average amount of a weight (in pounds) an adult will gain each holiday season, beginning Thanksgiving and rolling through to New Year’s Day. ‘Tis the season to talk about a few physiological changes that happen with weight gain, some reasons we tend to gain weight during this time of year and how to avoid it!
What happens inside our bodies when we gain weight? Initially, there’s an increase in the number of adipocytes (fat cells). Sadly, this number will never return to the original number (unless you undergo a procedure like CoolSculpt®). Instead, the cells can increase in quantity (with further weight gain) and/or change in volume – either smaller (during weight loss) or larger (during weight gain). This means, the next time around it’s easier for those cells to “refill” the lost “weight”. Unfortunately, these adipocytes are not just along for the ride either, they change the way your body makes, stores and circulates hormones (among other things). Another area that’s affected, is your heart. It’s put under extra stress due to additional weight and blood volume, causing a rise in blood pressure. Poorly controlled blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and impotence – (the last one mentioned if you dozed off… but a good motivator). Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a person can become insulin resistant. Which means that the hormone, insulin, has a reduced response to the sugar (glucose) floating in your blood streams. Often, this is due to a poor diet that leads to a consistently elevated blood sugar. When blood sugar remains high for too long it becomes similar to “white noise”. Have you ever heard a white noise machine, at first you do … and then you don’t. Other profound changes include poor sleep, skin changes, digestion upset, and the ever familiar tightly fitting clothes. You see, this is more than just aesthetics.
Holidays are a wonderful time of year; I am one of the first to turn the station to Christmas tunes as soon as the calendar rolls to November. Nevertheless, just like the American way, we allow such a special time of year to become all about over-spending, overeating and under sleeping. Oftentimes when I talk to others about their holiday plans and I end up hearing them complain about too many parties, classroom gatherings, gifts for her and gifts for him. To top it off each party has a menu, with too many decadent cookies, gingerbread houses, stuffing and don’t forget the free-flowing wine and spirits. All capped off with year-end work deadlines, gift wrapping and last-minute online shopping. Just writing this makes me exhausted! You see how our over packed agendas and less than charged personal batteries cause us to store extra weight this time of year.
How do we avoid all of this?
Creating a Goal Worth Sticking With.
We’ve all experienced it. At some point in our lives we’ve created a goal that we’re so giddy about. That initial phase is like Christmas day; there’s excitement, along with progress and a natural momentum with each breathe of confidence … then something happens. It could be the loss of a job, a vacation, or a crazy-busy season of life. This eventually results in a slowdown of those momentum wheels, maybe this slow down results in a plateau (this is actually success believe it or not), or perhaps a total loss of progress.
Was it you, or your goal?
The first step to creating change is identifying a proper goal. Begin with a specific action that you wish to change. This action should be measurable, easy to calculate whether you’ve achieved it or not, achievable, literally, is this goal within your capabilities (or perhaps start a bit smaller) and include an end date (you will follow this goal for a definitive amount of time). Remember SMART goals from grade school, yes, there’s a reason we learned how to do them?!
Since I’m a dietitian, the example goal we’ll use is going to be food related. My goal; to consume a total of nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day for the next two months. There’s action (eating, easy enough), measure (nine total servings of fruits and veggies), and a timeline (daily for the next two months).
“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.” – Brian Tracy
What I love about a goal like the above is that instead of depriving you of something, it comes from a place of positivity and kindness, (something health related goals rarely do). By this I mean that you are encouraged to eat more of what makes you feel good, not less of something. Goals shouldn’t be punishment.
Now that we’ve identified a written goal, assess progress toward your goal daily. Fast forward two months and now you’re getting in the groove of eating nine servings of fruits and veggies daily, and you’ve gained confidence. When you’ve achieved your goal, create another one while the momentum is still hot! This is the definition of steppingstone, or mini goals.
Steppingstone goals are beneficial because they are short enough to stay motivated and see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet they still offer a big boost in confidence with each successful completion! With confidence you can create your next steppingstone goal and make it just a little bigger. Each time you reach a goal you gain confidence and become a little closer to the person you wish to become.
“Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.” - Mark Twain