Lose weight and feel better by eating LESS often
The days of frequent, small meals may be over for some people. Research suggests that our human metabolism is better suited to eating less often. This makes sense because our ancestors would not have had access to food non-stop throughout the day. Three meals plus snacks is a strange artifact of modern living, and it puts considerable stress on our immune system and metabolic hormones.
Intermittent fasting alternates short periods of fasting (14-24 hours) with longer periods of normal calorie intake. Most of the fasting is done overnight during sleep, which is important because that works in concert with our circadian physiology. Sleep is the natural time for the body to detoxify, and to reboot metabolic hormones. In clinical trials, intermittent fasting does improve the sensitivity of metabolic hormones insulin and leptin. (1) Blood tests after fasting show lowered insulin and reduced inflammatory markers. Intermittent fasting reduces inflammation in a way similar to total calorie restriction, but without the calorie restriction (2). Fasting promotes a process of cell clean-up called autophagy, whereby the cell digests pathogens and junk proteins into useful energy.
The restriction of the timing of meals has been shown to improve weight-loss. When mice are restricted to eating within an 8-hour window, they are healthier and less likely to gain weight, even when total calorie intake is high. (3)
Is fasting different for women?
Most of the intermittent fasting studies have been done on men. Women may need a gentler approach, especially women with adrenal fatigue or a history of eating disorder. Women should begin with a short fast (12 hours) and take care to feel well.