Intermittent Fasting Made Easy


The publisher of AY Magazine, Heather Baker, made a feeble attempt at intermittent fasting earlier in the spring.  She tried it a month, went on vacation and fell off the ceremonial wagon. Now she’s making a second attempt, and she is liking the results.

“I’ve been doing an 18:6 fast every day since July 9, and I haven’t died,” Baker says. 18:6 is the fasting terminology for a “fasting/feasting” schedule.  She fasts for 18 hours and then feasts for six.

Feasting is maybe an exaggeration, but it is the time one opens his/her eating window and the alliteration makes it easier to remember. And fasting is a scary term for “time-restricted eating.”  Does that make it easier to digest? Pardon the pun.

Baker starts her fast with water with lime or she might drink unsweetened tea.  Some prefer black coffee. So, why no artificial sweeteners including zero-calorie ones? Because the pancreas releases insulin even with zero-calorie items.  It doesn’t recognize a full-calorie food from one with no calories. And insulin isn’t our friend here. Jason Fung, MD, the author of The Obesity Code says it best in that obesity isn’t a caloric problem but a hormonal problem. He says that the constant barrage of insulin, a hormone,  (eating every three hours has no scientific backing) is the root of weight gain. He says if you limit the amount of hours you eat in a day, you will watch your weight drop.  Are you eating less? Or will you rebound and eat more? At first, you might eat a little more so that you feel satiated until you open your feasting window again the next day, but in the end, you end up eating less.  A phenomenon known as appetite correction begins to appear. That’s when the body’s hunger and satiety regulators (again, hormones) come out to play.

Welcome to the playing field, ghrelin and leptin. WebMD defines them this way, “Leptin is a hormone, made by fat cells, that decreases your appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite, and also plays a role in body weight.”  

Those hormones are very crucial to your body’s ability to regulate your hunger and fullness signals-two things out of whack after all of these years of yo-yo and fad dieting and then low-fat dieting and practically eating ‘round the clock.  Dr. Fung began promoting an intermittent fasting lifestyle for his obese nephrology patients in Toronto, Canada. Many of them were Type 2 diabetics who were facing amputation of their limbs if they didn’t lose weight. He opened the Intensive Dietary Management Program, which he says on his website is “fasting for weight loss and diabetes reversal made simple.”  

How many drug companies would go out of business if this message was endorsed from doctors’ offices in Arkansas, where we are ranked fourth in the U.S. with the incidence of Type 2 diabetes?

Of course, this is where responsible journalists remind you that we are not in the medical profession and you need to seek the advice of a physician or medical provider before making the decision to fast.  

But do it with this caveat, read up on intermittent fasting.  Read the scientific journals or Dr. Fung’s books, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss and The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting.  Another great read is by Gin Stephens.  It is Delay, Don’t Deny.  It describes perfectly the opinion that you can have your cake and eat it, too.  Just do it within your eating window.

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