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Top 5 Ways Intermittent Fasting Complements a Gut Healing Diet
Intermittent Fasting has become a very popular way to lose weight. In fact, many people are choosing IF over other forms of weight loss, like restricting calories, or eliminating macros or food groups from one’s diet.
While the benefits of intermittent fasting are best-experienced by interspersing practice with consuming gut healing foods, your diet doesn’t need to be as restrictive as a paleo or vegan diet. IF is a far more freeing way to reduce your caloric intake.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
The first thing that we need to consider is what Intermittent Fasting really is. This can be a bit tricky, as there are several forms of IF, and this is not always mentioned clearly in the studies that are performed.
Intermittent fasting dietary options are called protocols. They dictate eating windows and some, caloric intake.
The three main types of IF protocols are:
16:8 or 18:6 method (can even be 20:4, etc.): This is where you fast for 16 to 20+ hours, and eat for the remaining hours in the day. Also known as “leangains”, this is the most common method.
The 5:2 method: In this method, you eat for 5 days, but for two days, you fast. This fasting can include not consuming any calories at all for these days, or have a very low-calorie limit. This limit is usually around 500 calories max.
One Meal A Day (OMAD) method: Probably the least common of the bunch, OMAD is gaining popularity. This protocol is where you eat one large meal a day, and then fast for the rest of the time.
Regardless of which method you use, there is a lot of evidence for the benefits of fasting as a whole. It gives those who are looking to follow a gut healing diet the opportunity to hit the reset button. Here are some evidence-backed benefits of intermittent fasting.
Gut Bacteria and Weight Loss
Most evidence regarding IF and weight loss shows that it works just as well as other forms of dieting 1. This ideology makes sense, as you are not altering what you eat. You are restricting yourself to when you can eat. Therefore, you eat less in the long term.
Many people believe that it is best to eat many smaller meals more frequently in the day, but this is a myth. There does not seem to be any significant difference between eating 12 times a day and eating twice a day when it comes to losing weight 2. If you think about it, eating more often opens the door to over-eating. Therefore, fewer meals are probably a better option 3.
Intermittent fasting lowers the chance of consuming snacks. All of the food you eat is generally centered around one or two meals. Therefore, when you do eat, make it count!
To experience the true benefits of intermittent fasting, you often have to plan your meals out. Just to make sure that your plate is balanced with greens, lean meats, and various gut healing foods. Otherwise, you run the risk of a nutrient deficiency.
When you restrict your diet, what you put into your gut after the fast is broken is vital. If you consume food rich in unhealthy fats and artificial ingredients, it can destroy the beneficial bacteria in your empty stomach. If harmful intestinal flora takes over your gut, it will make losing weight more difficult.
Improved Digestive Health
The average American eats far too often throughout the day 4. Our ancestors have never had such an abundance of food, so they rarely ate all day as many Americans do. This constant digestion of food can wreak havoc on our microbiome.By taking long periods of breaks between eating, and not eating, can allow our gut health to go back to a more healthy pattern 5. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it, especially now that the Standard American Diet is so processed and full of junk.
Lower Risk of Gastrointestinal Illness and Diabetes
Increased blood glucose levels, GI disorders, increased weight, and poor gut health has a complex, intertwined relationship 6. Research suggests:
” Diabetes pathogenesis could be a result of specific pathogens, but metabolites produced by gut microbiota, such as bile acids, also play an important part.”– J Diabetes Investig.
When blood glucose levels rise due to harmful intestinal bacteria, it can be an indicator you’re at risk of diabetes. It is always best to keep your blood glucose levels at a manageable level. This goal can be attained through calorie restriction, or by following a regimented, healthy gut diet plan. However, some evidence has been coming to light, shining a light on the potential of IF as a viable alternative 7.
A lot of this benefit can be simply due to consuming less added sugars in the long term. But fasting can be uniquely helpful, as it causes the body not to have the regular glucose spikes that it has after every meal. Since you are not eating for long periods of time, your body does not have a glucose spike every couple of hours or so.
Reduces InflammationA lot of what we eat and do cause our body inflammation. These decisions can be deadly in the long run.
Long-term inflammation may cause:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
• Growth of Free Radicals
Exercise and following a diet rich in gut health foods may reduce inflammation. Following an intermittent fasting protocol further enhances this benefit.
The science to date has shown that IF reduces inflammatory markers in the body 8. However, it is important to note that these studies have mainly been done in the lab, and not on humans. So more research needs to be done in the long term to know for sure of this effect.
Increases Cardio Health
When it comes to potentially preventable deaths in the world, heart disease tops that list. Most people in developed countries do not eat fresh produce, lean meats, or whole foods in decent quantities anymore. Instead, most of what we eat is processed and filled with junk. As a result, these foods start to clog our arteries, and before long, we are suffering from heart disease.
There is not a lot of evidence that IF alone prevents heart disease better than any other diet. Research suggests that following intermittent fasting protocols may reduce some risk factors associated with heart disease 9 10.
Benefits of preventative measures like intermittent fasting may be further enhanced by maintaining your weight through to a healthy gut diet plan.
Intermittent Fasting and Gut Health
Many of these studies are small, but the science is promising. Besides, any diet that works for you, and helps you to lower your weight in order to also lower other risk factors for disease is always a plus.
Intermittent Fasting is a great tool to use to lose and maintain weight. And since there are practically no downsides, the benefits allow your body to flourish. At the very least, if all other diets have failed you, try IF out for yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised by how great you feel when you are not eating every couple of hours.
Are you practicing intermittent fasting? Let us know when you sign up for our Gut Health Program. This kind of information is handy to know when we process your microbiome testing results to formulate your personalized probiotics.
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- 1 Tello, Monique. “Intermittent Fasting: Surprising Update.” Harvard Health Blog, 26 June 2018, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/intermittent-fasting-surprising-update-2018062914156.
- 2 Bellisle, F, et al. “Meal Frequency and Energy Balance.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1997, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9155494.
- 3 Cameron, Jameason D, et al. “Increased Meal Frequency Does Not Promote Greater Weight Loss in Subjects Who Were Prescribed an 8-Week Equi-Energetic Energy-Restricted Diet.” The British Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985.
- 4 Koopman, Karin E., et al. “Hypercaloric Diets with Increased Meal Frequency, but Not Meal Size, Increase Intrahepatic Triglycerides: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Hepatology, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 13 May 2014, aasldpubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/hep.27149.
- 5 Beli, Eleni, et al. “Restructuring of the Gut Microbiome by Intermittent Fasting Prevents Retinopathy and Prolongs Survival in Db/Db Mice.” Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, 1 Sept. 2018, diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/67/9/1867.
- 6 Aw, W., & Fukuda, S. (2017). Understanding the role of the gut ecosystem in diabetes mellitus. Journal of diabetes investigation, 9(1), 5–12. doi:10.1111/jdi.12673.
- 7 “Intermittent Fasting vs Daily Calorie Restriction for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention: a Review of Human Findings.” Translational Research, Mosby, 12 June 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193152441400200X.
- 8 Lavin, Desiree N, et al. “Fasting Induces an Anti-Inflammatory Effect on the Neuroimmune System Which a High-Fat Diet Prevents.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21527899.
- 9 Varady, Krista A, et al. “Short-Term Modified Alternate-Day Fasting: a Novel Dietary Strategy for Weight Loss and Cardioprotection in Obese Adults.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19793855.
- 10 “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Metabolism in Men.” Revista Da Associação Médica Brasileira, No Longer Published by Elsevier, 31 Mar. 2013, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0104423013000213.