By. Garrett Guzman
Over the past few months, I have received a lot of questions regarding intermittent fasting. And for good reason, it is all the rage right now. What exactly is intermittent fasting, otherwise shortened as IF? As a joke, I typically just refer to intermittent fasting as the lazy millennial way of eating; where we (yes, I’m still included in the millennial crowd) simply get our extra zzz’s, skip breakfast, and come up with a snazzy name called intermittent fasting to justify our sheer laziness to get up early and cook a healthy breakfast. This is not far from the actual truth. While there are various IF protocols, eating within an 8 hour window and not eating for the following 16 hours seems to be the most popular (others push to eating within a 4 hour window and not eating for the following 20 hours, and still others engage in alternate day fasting or performing a 24 hour fast one or two days per week). There is no right or wrong way, and all of them have shown significant benefits. And to be clear, these fasting protocols are not something new . . . like new at all. Fasting has been a cure-all for nearly every disease for centuries. For example, if you’re overweight or obese, fast. If you have Type 2 Diabetes, fast. If you have heart disease, fast. Heck, if you have a cold or the flu, fast. (To be clear, these are not my specific recommendations, but those which fasting has been applied) For centuries, fasting has been utilized to improve nearly every known chronic health disease or condition. And guess what? In nearly every case, it works. There have been numerous new (and old) studies indicating that intermittent fasting can improve body weight and body composition, energy/mood (and various neuropsychiatric disorders), inflammation and immunity, glucose metabolism and lipid profiles, on and on. And given that nearly 85% of the current population (per the latest 2020 research) has some sort of metabolic dysfunction that would improve with a fasting protocol, why wouldn’t we all implement this into our lifestyle? I mean, it would be dumb not to, right? Well, there are always several outliers who do better NOT fasting. These include pregnant/lactating women, children/youth/adolescents, high-level athletes (especially in-season), underweight individuals, those with past or current eating disorders, someone recovering from specific diseases and/or surgeries (strongly against doctor’s recommendations), many individuals with HPA axis dysfunction (most often thyroid and adrenal dysfunction), and many others. I will discuss the latter: HPA axis dysfunction. You must realize, fasting is a stressor on the body, period. Anyone who tells you different simply lacks the education around fasting. Many individuals that I work with have plenty of stress (work, marriage, children, financial, etc.) and don’t need an additional stressor to worsen his/her hormone status. Yes, you read that correctly: fasting can have negative effects on certain hormones and needs to be thoroughly considered when undergoing fasting protocols (especially for longer durations). This is frequently neglected and can dramatically worsen an individual’s health. With these cases, we find that these individuals need additional dietary resources and do much better, by measurement of all health indicators, avoiding fasting during these times. And, at the end of the day, some individuals just want to eat three square meals per day. And if they are going to make health-conscious decisions at those three meals, I would be shocked if their health and wellness wasn’t as good or better than someone just skipping breakfast. So, at the end of the day, realize two things: fasting protocols can be immensely beneficial, but fasting protocols aren’t for everyone.
For further individualized nutritional guidance or assistance, I would encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to setup a nutritional consultation. Nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all approach and needs to be treated as such.