Fast Fix: The skinny on intermittent fasting

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 29, 2021 at 6:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There’s a blossoming trend among Americans trying to conquer the seemingly never-ending struggle to lose weight, keep it off and maintain health. It’s called intermittent fasting, and it’s even caught traction among big names like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who told fans he eats just one meal a day to help him perform at a high level. Actor Rob Lowe recently told podcast host Joe Rogan he fasts from dinner to dinner, every other day!

Talk to your body-conscious friends and you’ll probably find at least one that swears by the practice of eating only during certain hours of a 24-hour period, and fasting for the rest.

Suellen Gunn, a Natural Health Practitioner in Flowood, says there’s lots of ways to practice intermittent fasting. She practices what’s commonly referred to as a 16/8: she only eats healthy foods, and several times a week she only eats during an eight hour window, fasting the other 16. Gunn says giving your body time away from food is important.

If you’re eating food all day, day in, day out, say when you wake up at 6 a.m. and you eat until 9 or 10 p.m. when you go to bed at night, it’s raising (your) insulin. Your body never really has a chance for that insulin to lower,” she says.

High insulin can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Gunn says fasting longer than 16 hours can also be beneficial.

“Doing a 24-hour fast is a great idea, great way to clean out, for you to be able to use those stored sources of fuel, and it also gives you a new take on food and think about more clearly, what are you doing, what do you need to get out of your diet that could be causing a problem?” she tells us. “I think it’s really important for the body to process real foods.”

Real foods, like lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Mississippi Farmers Market in Jackson is a place that abounds with the best foods for your body. That’s where we met up with Registered Dietician Rebecca Turner, to get her take on intermittent fasting.

“Scheduled eating, or putting boundaries around your calories or time, has kind of been the way we’ve been approaching things for a long time. It’s just been repackaged and given to us in a fancy new term and people are starting to run with it,” Turner says.

Turner is not convinced that everyone who tries intermittent fasting is doing so for the right reasons.

“I think a lot of people are confused on where the benefits of intermittent fasting actually come from. It’s not from the fast itself, it’s from the boundaries we put around what we eat, and sometimes it’s helpful for people to have a time schedule with it,” she tells us.

If you’re ready to jump in, here’s one very important point: during your eating hours, if your diet consists of empty calories like cookies, chips, sugary cereal and candy, you will get no benefits from intermittent fasting.

“The quality of your meal is always going to outweigh the quantity or timing of your meal,” Turner says.

“For health, those foods are always terrible,” Gunn tells us. “Diebetes, cardiac disease, pain, skin issues, all can be related back to sugar.”

Finally, both practitioners agree, any diet change must be done under the guidance of your doctor or health practitioner. Intermittent fasting could be dangerous for people with certain illnesses, or who take certain medications. It may also have adverse effects for anyone with a history of an eating disorder.

Along with the 16/8 approach, there are numerous other intermittent fasting methods. One of them, according to Johns Hopkins University, is a 5/2 approach: eating regularly 5 days a week, and limiting yourself to one 500-600 calorie meal the other two days.

Can the benefits of intermittent fasting extend beyond weight loss and health? Click here to learn how research suggests the practice can help with thinking, memory, and more.

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