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Newsletter #7: Intermittent Fasting

March 2022


Intermittent Fasting for Weight Management and Health

 

Intermittent Fasting(IF) is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. A close cousin to this concept is Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) which is a dietary approach that consolidates all calorie intake into 6 to 8 hour periods during the active phase of the day, without necessarily altering diet quality and quantity. Research shows that both are ways to manage your weight and prevent — or even reverse — some forms of disease. But how do you do it? Which approach is best?   


Obesity is a Common, Serious, and Costly Disease

 

According to the Center for Disease Control(CDC) 42% of all Americans are now obese. This is up from 30% in 1999. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. These are among the leading causes of preventable, premature death.

 

The estimated annual medical cost of diseases caused by obesity in the United States was $260.6 billion in 2016. The medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429/year higher than medical costs for people with healthy weight.

 


Are You Obese? 

 

BMI or Body Mass Index and waist circumference are the two most widely accepted methods to decide if you are obese.

 

Body Mass Index(BMI). BMI compares your height to your weight.  A BMI greater than 30 is considered to be obese and places you at increased risk for medical complications related directly to your weight.  You can check your BMI using the following calculator. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

BMI can be falsely elevated especially in younger people with a lot of muscle mass. However for 99.9% of people over 40, it will be accurate.

 

Waist Circumference. Measuring waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around THE LARGEST PART of your middle, just above your hipbones. 


The Three Pillars of Health and Weight Management:  Quality/Quantity/Timing

 

Quality. All calories are not created equal.  We know that the rate at which calories are turned into sugar and absorbed through your bloodstream can make a significant difference in how they are processed.  Generally speaking, real food, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds and nuts are broken down more slowly and in the most beneficial way,  while processed foods will tend to generate high spike's in INSULIN which will cause fat deposition, especially around your  abdomen.  I have often said that you should "eat the way God made it".  And in his wisdom, God did not make bread trees.

 

When humans alter our food supply, its usually not for the better. I have yet to meet a patient who became obese eating too much broccoli, carrots or spinach!   I generally believe that a lower carbohydrate diet is the way to go, with emphasis on restricting added sugars. Try to restrict your total Carbohydate intake to 60-80 grams/day.

NOTE :Food quality will be the focus of a future newsletter. 

 

Quantity. It is generally accepted that you need to ingest 3500 cal over and above your daily requirements to gain one pound of fat.  Based on the math, it would take a 500-calorie deficit every day to lose 1 pound per week.  I am generally not a fan of calorie counting, however it can be helpful for some people.  There are a number of free calorie counting apps that you can obtain for your phone.  I think doing periodic "spot checks" on your total calorie intake can be quite worthwhile. 

 

Take a look at Apps such as:

  • Lifesum.

  • Spark People Calorie Tracker

  • MyFitnessPal

  • Calorie Counter by Fat Secret

 

Timing. We have known for quite some time that when you eat can play a significant role in determining how many calories you absorb, burn and process.  Since we originated as a hunter/gatherer species, our genetics are designed for intermittent periods of fasting, when no food was readily available.  Having short periods of fasting may actually be genetically preferred.


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