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An Introduction to Intermittent Fasting

Updated: Jun 1

An introduction to intermittent fasting

A quick Google search will give you thousands of tips for weight loss and living healthy. Unfortunately, the internet is overflowing with myths and hacks that are rooted in pseudoscience. For that reason, finding genuine weight loss advice can be difficult.

Fortunately, intermittent fasting is an effective eating plan that can help you lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. Moreover, fasting can prevent certain diseases and improve your overall health

In this post, we’ll introduce intermittent fasting and discuss popular fasting methods. Then, we’ll explain three ways it can benefit your lifestyle. Let’s get started!

What Is Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a time-restricted eating plan that alternates between periods of fasting and eating. Fasting focuses on when you eat while diets focus on what you eat. With fasting, you restrict the timeframe in which you eat instead of restricting your calorie intake:

Avocado toast with eggs during intermittent fasting

During a fast, you can generally drink water, coffee, tea, and other calorie-free liquids. However, no solid foods or calorie-containing drinks are permitted. Then, after you break your fast, there is no restriction on what you eat. 

In the past few decades, more and more people have turned to fasting to help regulate weight and support their health. However, religions across the globe have practiced fasting for centuries. Moreover, fasting to heal your body dates back to ancient Greece when Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” prescribed food abstinence to treat specific ailments and medical conditions. 

Intermittent Fasting Methods

The body naturally undergoes a fasting period when we sleep. That’s why breakfast is eaten in the morning; because we are breaking the fasted state.

Therefore, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re naturally fasting for at least eight hours a night. Nonetheless, avid fasters might extend fasting periods to 12-24 hours (sometimes even longer). 

There are several ways you can fast, such as:

  • Time-restricted eating: Fast every day for a set time, such as 12/12, 14/10, 16/8, etc.

  • 5:2 method: Restrict calories to 500-600 for two days and eat normally for five days.

  • Eat-stop-eat: Fast for 24 hours for up to two non-consecutive days a week.

While there are endless fasting variations, caloric requirements vary from person to person. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest one method is more beneficial than the others. That’s why you should consult your doctor, dietitian, or nutrition coach before beginning a fasting regimen. They can evaluate your current lifestyle and incorporate fasting into a custom eating plan to help you reach your goals. 

The Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Since each body is different, the effects of fasting will vary from one person to another. Nonetheless, emerging research suggests fasting can aid in weight management, regulate body function, and improve overall health. 

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Our bodies store extra calories as fat when we eat too much. However, in a fasted state, the body can use those extra fat stores as fuel. 

When we fast, there is a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy. Typically, the switch occurs after 10-12 hours of fasting. However, it can happen sooner, depending on your activity levels. For instance, if you work out in a fasted state, the body will require excess fuel sooner than if you stay sedentary:

Fasted workout with a personal trainer

What’s more, by shortening your eating window, you may naturally consume fewer calories throughout the day. Unless you overcompensate for missed calories, fasting can help create a calorie deficit and reduce overeating.

2. Boost Cellular Repair

Additionally, fasting can trigger the body's cellular waste removal process called autophagy. Over time, stress and free radicals damage the cells in our body. Through autophagy, our bodies clear out dysfunctional cell parts and recycle the salvageable ones into new, healthy cells. 

This process is triggered when our cells aren’t getting enough resources. Thus, depriving the body of nutrients through fasting can encourage autophagy.

3. Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation has been strongly linked to obesity and various chronic diseases. Yet, researchers found that fasting for 24 hours can reduce inflammation by ramping up levels of a chemical in the blood called arachidonic acid. Furthermore, scientists believe that consistently fasting for a long period can mitigate chronic inflammation associated with certain diseases.

Get Started with Our Nutritionists

Intermittent fasting can help you maintain a healthy weight and boost your overall health. Moreover, by restricting your eating window, you can increase cellular repair, reduce inflammation, and improve your quality of life. 


Are you ready to kickstart your healthy journey with a custom nutrition plan? Our registered dietitians can tailor a plan for your goals and help you get started with intermittent fasting. Sign up for your free consultation today!

Image credit: Cats Coming, Nicola Barts


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