By Jessie Funchion, MS, RD, LDN

 

What is fasting?

A partial or total abstention from all foods or a select abstention from prohibited foods.

 

 What are the different types of fasting?

1)    Intermittent fasting – cycle between periods of eating and fasting. A common way to do this is to alternate days, for example fast for 2 days a week (only eat one meal, 600-800 calories) and eat as usual for 5 days a week.

2)    Gentle Fast – Examples include avoiding food between meals (~4 hour ‘fast’) or overnight (~12-16 hours).

3)    Caloric restriction – This involves eating a reduced calorie diet, as low as 600-800 calories a day for an extended period of time.

 

How long as fasting been around?

Fasting has been used in various ways for thousands of years! There’s documentation of various spiritual and philosophical writers from centuries ago using fasting as a means of gaining mental clarity or spiritual enlightenment. Various religious also incorporate fasting, such as Islam during Ramadan.

 

Why would someone fast today?

In addition to fasting or avoiding certain foods for religious or personal beliefs, there is a growing body of research to support the use of fasting for various medical conditions. One key finding is that calorie restriction can actually change the way genes are expressed in normal cells. It appears that during fasts, cells can better repair themselves! This is due to an upregulation of antioxidants and DNA repair pathways. Subtext: Fasting may actually slow the aging process of cells.

There is also some research to support the use of fasts for weight loss and weight management, blood sugar regulation and type 2 diabetes, cognitive health and cancer. What’s unclear is if the benefits are simply from the reduction in calories, or the actual fast, meaning going several hours without eating.

 

What should I eat during non-fasting days/hours?

A normal, balanced diet. In the studies that showed health benefits from fasting, participants ate a maximum of 125% of their calorie needs during non-fasting days or hours. So while they may have overeaten slightly, participants were not gorging themselves when they broke the fast! If anything, overeating in excess will likely negate the positive benefits of the fast, and eliminate any potential calorie deficit for the day or week.

 

Who should NOT try fasting?

Anyone who falls into the following categories should NOT try fasting:

·      Pregnant or nursing

·      History of eating disorder

·      Underweight

·      Pediatric population

·      Type 1 diabetes

·      Medically unstable

·      Cognitive decline

·      Cancer cachexia

 

Should I try it?

Like any diet change, adherence is key. The benefits of fasting are likely to disappear once a person stops fasting. It may be helpful to accomplish a short-term goal, but long-term maintenance and the changes you make after fasting are likely to be more important.

 

Sources:

Dietitian Central Webinar: A Primer on Fasting by Lindsay Malone, RD

Today’s Dietitian: Fasting Regimens for Weight Loss

|

Looking to implement a corporate wellness nutrition program?

Corporate Wellness Nutrition by Family Food is the longest-standing, most awarded program in your region with published outcome data.

CLIENT TESTIMONIALS

JEANETTE

I had a great 1st visit with the nutritionist. I went to get tips on changing by diet, but got much more. I was able to set a physical activity and nutrition goal. The nutritionist was knowledgeable and helpful.

I am so grateful for the stellar support and advice provided by Meghan, the dietitian I'm working with. She is both knowledgeable and kind, and it's a deeply productive journey. Thank you."

MICHELLE

Consulting with a Family Food nutritionist is turning out to be helpful in my effort to live healthy. The consultations are a way of having a sense of accountability and I get helpful feedback on my dietary decisions.

STAN

Great nutrition experts who inspire you! I am happy with the nutrition specialists at Family Food. They make me excited about nutrition, answer all my questions, and provide excellent recommendations! Thank you!!

AS

Very professional experience. I felt she listened to my needs and adjusted to personalize my nutrition needs.

L

My initial appointment was helpful - helped me consider new ways of addressing some problem areas for me and helped set attainable, concrete goals.

CHARLOTTE

Insightful and Informative. She was very attentive and helpful. She gave excellent tips on what to do and eat to meet my goal weight.

TRACEY-ANN

I feel confident about the changes we made to my goals and look forward to implementing them into my everyday routine. The health adviser was very helpful and didn't make me feel shameful for not meeting all my previous goals.

ERICA

I highly recommend Family Food. The nutritionist, Erika is helpful and provides great information and positive feedback.

KELSHA

I had an excellent experience with the representative from Family Food. She really read into what I was telling her and offered excellent advice that I am already able to implement after one visit. She also helped to make the best use of the hour long session. Very good time management!

AB

I met with a dietician for the first time and I had an idea of what to expect but I find this to be an invaluable resource because I have already received great ideas of things to use for meal planning and I also received more information of how to read nutrition labels. I am looking forward to my next appointment.

SHANA

I really enjoyed my first session with Christine. She provided me with a lot of solid information on issues I was not aware of and positive reinforcement for behaviors I have already engaged in. I outlined specific goals I would like to work on with her guidance and she gave me some initial steps to start. I found what she had to say respectful of the space I am in and cognizant of obstacles to making lifestyle and lifelong changes.

LYNN

I walked in without any specific questions/concerns, and my counseling was well-guided and ended up helping me see specific small changes that I can make to keep me on-track with my nutrition goals. Solutions fit my lifestyle and were not cookie-cutter, which is fantastic. I was able to start making improvements immediately. Thank you!

KAYLEY

I am finding the sessions helpful and a good way to talk through improving habits and making better food choices.

ANDREA

I am very happy this program exists. It has been very helpful and informative. My deitition is very nice and intelligent I am happy to have her help and support.

ATTANYA

The Family Food blog

The most reliable evidence-based nutrition information on child and adult nutrition.

Gain access to a personal Registered Dietitian today.

We accept most Health Insurance plans

TWEETS BY @FAMILYFOODLLC

PINTEREST

GET OUR APP