What’s All the Buzz About Intermittent Fasting?

ayurveda brain health healthy eating healthy living real food sugarfree Apr 14, 2024


You may be thinking that this is just one of the latest fads and health crazes, soon to fade from interest.  But in fact it’s not new at all.

Remember being a kid, when you typically ate 3 meals a day–breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with no snacks.

If breakfast was at 8:00am before school, lunch was in a bag eaten sometime around noon, and dinner likely somewhere around 5:00 or 6:00pm.  If you tried to get a snack after school, you were told it would “ruin your dinner.”  This schedule meant that you likely spent more than half of the 24-hour cycle not eating.

In nutrition school, we often referred to this as a “14-hour natural fast.”

Somehow in the last 50 years, our eating patterns have evolved, adding snacks a few times each day–such as mid-morning, mid-afternoon and bedtime–so that often we may be eating 5 or 6 small meals a day, to the point of eating almost continuously all the time we are awake!

Is there an issue with this?  


It means that many people are “feeding” up to 16 to 18 hours a day and only fasting (not eating) for 6 to 8 hours–much less than our paleolithic bodies were designed for.

I’m sure you can see that if someone has spent many more hours a day eating than they have been fasting, that over time their body will have built up increasingly more stored energy–and this is in the form of body fat.

However when someone fasts, insulin levels drop and that signals the body to start burning stored energy–and that’s what we’re going to explore today.

Different types of fasting

There is no one correct way to fast.

Many fasting strategies have been passed down from antiquity.  

Many religions and spiritual traditions incorporate some form of eating restrictions at certain times of the week or year.  

Some medical conditions have been shown to benefit from fasting, resulting in the development of therapeutic diets, designed to be followed for the short-term as needed.

And an important warning for anyone considering changing your eating habits, especially if you are on any medications:  you are advised to consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any dietary changes, as in some cases medications may be affected, and medical supervision may be advisable.

The Rhythm of Feeding and Fasting

Here are some of the popular and beneficial plans:

1. Time Restricted Eating (TRE)  

This is where we cycle between the “fed” state (insulin is high and we are storing calories) and the “fasted” state (insulin is low and we are burning stored calories).

If we eat or snack constantly, insulin stays high and our bodies receive the instructions to store more calories. This is a recipe for gaining body fat.

If we want to lose body fat, then we need to increase the amount of time we spend in the fasted state, thus burning calories. 

Compressing the time we spend eating (the eating window) and expanding the time spent fasting allows our bodies to use up stored calories and lose body fat. This is the idea behind time restricted eating. 

If we only eat from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, we spend 8 hours eating and 16 hours fasting, which is why this is also sometimes called the 16:8 schedule.  And no snacking!

Other popular ratios are 14:10 and 18:6.  

And there’s no requirement to keep to the same plan each day or every day of the week.  In fact your body will benefit if you don’t follow a regular pattern as it is less likely to become accustomed to it.

Note that if you decide to try this out, it may take a few days or weeks or more to feel like you can regularly follow the plan and do so without snacking.  

Remember that this is a practice and there’s no need for perfection! 

Over time you will feel like you have started to get used to the rhythm and are ready to expand your fasting window!

NOTE: At the same time as we started to increase the number of meals, we were taught to fear fat and instead eat processed grains and industrial seed oils (which you may think of as supposedly healthy “vegetable” oils–which they are not).

And it turns out that these types of processed foods will increase insulin production, which in turn will allow us to store the excess carbs (which are turned into glucose) as fat.  

So along with TRE, do your best to cut back on (or cut out) those processed carbs and oils.  

In other words: Just Eat Real Food!

PLUS: Just because you are not eating, that doesn’t mean you restrict your fluids–in fact it’s important to keep yourself well hydrated, with black coffee or tea, green tea, herbal teas, bone broth and of course water–still or sparkling; hot, warm or cool.

2. Intermittent Fasting (IF)

Once TRE is feeling comfortable, you may wish to lengthen the period of fasting, working your way up to 24 hours.

This can look like eating dinner on one day, fasting overnight and into the morning the next day as usual, and then skipping lunch so that your next meal is dinner that night–giving you roughly 24 hours without eating.

Or it could mean eating lunch one day, then skipping dinner and continuing your fast through the night and into the next morning right up until lunch that next day–again about 24 hours of fasting.  

And one plus for this schedule is that it takes advantage of the Ayurveda concept of eating your largest meal at noon, when your Agni (digestive fire) is the strongest.

The most important consideration is to fit the fasting schedule into your life schedule. If the fasting is too onerous, it will not be sustainable long term.

Note: How many times do you practice this rhythm each week?  The experts suggest starting with just once a week, and working up to three days of 24-hour fasts, alternating them with days where you are still eating 2 or 3 meals on days in between.  The two meals a day allows you to continue TRE on eating days by not eating breakfast.

3. Longer Fasts

Once a 24-hour fast has been practiced so it feels more comfortable, you might consider skipping additional meals in a row, so that you are extending the fasting window.

While these are more intensive, they also offer the benefit of having your body in fat-burning mode for more extended periods of time.

But as with any form of fasting, only continue when your body feels safe, and know that you can end your fast at any time, whenever it feels right–always listen to your body!

Preparing to Fast

The best preparation is to eat a delicious, satisfying, preferably home-cooked meal (so you know what’s in it!) the night before, with the emphasis on healthy proteins, natural fats, and fresh veggies, and to avoid any processed and starchy foods.

Then have an early night, where your evening is relaxing so you are able to get a good night’s sleep.  You might even enjoy an epsom salt bath or some restorative yoga before bed.

Stay Hydrating

I'm going to repeat this as it’s so important: 

Just because you are not eating, that doesn’t mean you restrict your fluids–in fact it’s important to keep yourself well hydrated, with black coffee or tea, green tea, herbal teas, bone broth and of course water–still or sparkling; hot, warm or cool.

What if I get too hungry?

The most important lesson I have learned is that hunger does not keep getting worse and worse if you don’t eat. Rather, it comes in waves which will ebb and flow.

Knowing this is powerful information!

So stay busy and active, and you’ll soon forget about food and the hunger will go away. (At least for a while!)  And remember to stay hydrated–as sometimes thirst will mask itself as hunger.

Breaking the Fast

The most important thing to remember when breaking the fast, is to try to eat normal portions and avoid the temptation to overeat.

And of course, Just Eat Real Food!


Stop snacking!

Reduce or eliminate processed sugar and carbs

Just eat real food!

Try to increase your fasting window and decrease your feeding window

As always, notice how you feel before and after!


Home Practice this Week ~ Reduce or Eliminate Snacking

This is a healthy practice whether you plan to try Time-Restricted Eating or Intermittent Fasting, or not.

  • As always, begin with awareness of your meal times (and what you eat as well, if you like) and snacks eaten, time of day, and what else was happening at that time.
  • Notice any pattern.  
  • Are you really hungry, or maybe you are really thirsty, or perhaps you are just bored?
  • Did you eat enough healthy protein and natural fat during your meals to keep you satiated until the next meal?
  • If not, increase healthy protein and natural fat during your meals and then see if you can forget about eating until the next meal!



Jason Fung, MD, Complete Guide To Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting

Megan Ramos, The Essential Guide to Intermittent Fasting for Women: Balance Your Hormones to Lose Weight, Lower Stress, and Optimize Health

Dave Asprey, Fast This Way: Burn Fat, Heal Inflammation, and Eat Like the High-Performing Human You Were Meant to Be

Mindy Pelz, MD, Fast Like a Girl: A Woman's Guide to Using the Healing Power of Fasting to Burn Fat, Boost Energy, and Balance Hormones

For more info on this and other natural health topics:

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