Fasting: It Does Your Body Good!

Move over ketogenic and paleo diets, intermittent fasting approaches are the new hot trend in nutrition. The science of fasting is booming. But why should you care? Amongst other things, fasting diets have been shown to:

  • Improve cognition
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Help good gut bacteria grow
  • Fight inflammation

At Richmond Integrative Psychiatric and Nutrition Services, we know that all of these contribute to a healthy mood. As with all nutrition trends, the information behind intermittent fasting can be overwhelming, so here is a brief breakdown of the most popular options.

  1. 12-hour fasting: As the name implies, the goal is to fast for 12 hours between your last and first meal of the day. Seems easy, right? Conceptually, it is, although most people eat dinner late if they eat a solid dinner at all or snack before bed. The sun comes up and breakfast with coffee and creamer is on the mind with fewer than 12 hours passing. This affects insulin levels, sleep quality and the brain’s ability to clean up junk overnight, a process known as autophagy. In his bestselling book, The End of Alzheimer’s Dr. Dale Bredesen suggests a “Ketoflex 12/3” fasting method which is simple – fast for 12 hours between the last and first meal of the day and do not eat anything for 3 hours before bed, following mostly ketogenic principles.
  2. The 8-hour window: A step up from simple 12-hour fasts, the 8-hour window approach requires eating meals within the namesake timeframe. For example, if the first meal is at 10am, the last meal is no later than 6pm. “An 8-hour window can work well for those special nights out where you eat late or if you have brunch on the weekends without impacting blood sugar balance,” says Lora Volant, our resident nutrition coach.
  3. The Fasting Mimicking Diet: The new guy on the block, the ProLon fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was developed by Dr. Valter Prolon and requires following caloric restriction 5-days per month. It is the most intense of the options highlighted here and should be supervised by a health care provider, as the total calories drop to 700-800 per day using specially formulated foods and electrolyte drinks. It has been shown to positively impact hormonal balance, decrease inflammation and regulate hunger levels, effects that last well beyond its short five days. There is even emerging research that the fasting mimicking diet can help improve responses to chemotherapy in cancer patients. “Fasting in short bursts such as those used in the fasting mimicking diet have a major impact on mood. It is a great way to hit the ‘reset’ button, when your nutrition may have veered off course too,” endorses Ashley Mannell, RD, NP.

Interested in hitting the mood and food “reset” button yourself? At Richmond Integrative Psychiatric and Nutrition Services, we offer education and counseling on fasting approaches in addition to supervision and assistance with the ProLon program. Click here for more information about our services.