Health and Wellness
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Intermittent fasting is based on the idea that taking a several-hour break from eating every day can be good for the body. It’s been adopted by CEOs and celebs, and its fans say it helps them feel and eat better every day.
If you haven’t tried it yet, you might have a lot of questions about what it is—and we’re on call to answer them.
Intermittent fasting is a type of eating pattern where your days are broken up into two sections: eating and not eating (fasting). A popular schedule is 16/8, meaning you fast for 16 consecutive hours of the day and eat all your meals during the remaining 8. Following this method, you might eat between 10 am and 6 pm, for example, though you’re free to make any 8-hour period your eating window. While 16/8 may be the more popular window of choice, there may also be benefit with different options like 14/10 and 18/6.After adopting the program and finding it works well for their bodies, some people make their eating window shorter. Some also try alternative methods like the 5/2 intermittent fast schedule, where they eat regularly for five consecutive days of the week and then severely limit their caloric intake on the other two days. 
The goal of intermittent fasting is to force a metabolic shift in your body so it starts to burn fat rather than glucose. This state is known as ketosis, and along with helping some people lose weight, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests it may improve longevity, since it can help with regenerating cells and protecting organs.There is still a lot more to understand about how and when our bodies enter ketosis, and it can depend on several factors such as:
Since so many other factors impact our overall health and longevity, it can be difficult to determine how eating patterns fit into that. But some research from the NIH suggests intermittent fasting could help brain health, repair damaged cells, and improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
With intermittent fasting, the focus becomes on when you eat, not what you eat. Time restricted eating is a way of managing and restricting calories. So in theory, if you are eating for fewer hours a day, you are also taking in fewer calories. Some people choose to ad their own additional guidelines—maybe limiting carbs and upping fat intake to reach ketosis sooner, or cutting back on dairy if they don’t digest it well, for instance. And many people track their protein, fat, sugar, and carb intake to make sure they’re getting enough of everything. But in theory, you can enjoy all your favorite foods during intermittent fasting. You don’t have to give up early morning caffeine either. Black coffee or tea without any cream or sugar doesn’t count as breaking the fast, so you can have it outside your eating hours. You can also drink water 24/7—and should, since JAMA reports that one of the negative side effects of intermittent fasting is potential dehydration (a lot of people forget to drink enough water when they’re not eating).
Remember intermittent fasting is completely optional and flexible method for eating. If it doesn’t sound like something for you, explore other eating strategies that may help you feel your best. Critically, there are also some situations where it shouldn’t be attempted at all, according to John Hopkins Medicine:
If you do decide that intermittent fasting is something you’d like to try, there are a few steps you can take to make sure it’s the right path for you, and that you’re making the most of the method:
For many people, these clear up after an adjustment period, but it’s good to understand the process and manage symptoms when you can. For example, taking some electrolytes (without calories) can help alleviate headaches during fasting.
Before making any dietary changes, make sure to check in with your Care Team first to make sure intermittent fasting is right for you.
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