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Your Healthy Family: Does intermittent fasting work?

Posted at 9:45 AM, Feb 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-01 09:45:17-05

The most common goal Americans have is to get in shape. There are many diets and eating habits that have become popular over the last few years, including intermittent fasting. But does it work?

With intermittent fasting, you switch between fasting and eating on a regular schedule, only eating during a specific time period and then fasting the rest.

"Similar to the restorative part of sleep, this is a restoration that can happen when we do a sleep or rest of our digestive track," Dr. Shad Marvasti, a physician, medical educator and researcher, said.

He said that fasting period is a chance for the body to do some metabolic housecleaning.

"It looks for those pre-cancer cells, does all the necessary repairs," he said.

Dr. Marvasti said this benefits cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight. He said the sweet spot is fasting for 16 hours. So if your last meal is at 8 PM, you have your next meal at noon. But he said people can start with a 12 hour window.

"Naturally, we do that anyway. That's why we call it breakfast, break the fast," Dr. Marvasti said.

You can still drink water during that fasting window. Dr. Marvasti said people can increase the benefits by end the night with a no-calorie tea, like chamomile. He also said working out before the next meal will also boost the fasting benefits, and a person's energy. When it's time to eat again, Dr. Marvasti said to remember the quality of the calories matter more than the quantity.

"We know from the research that you can't outrun a bad diet," Dr. Marvasti said.