Our Thoughts On: Intermittent Fasting + Diets

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Intermittent fasting. You’ve likely heard of it or know someone who has tried it. Intermittent fasting is less focused on what you can and cannot eat and more so focused on when you eat. In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is the process of cycling through periods of fasting and “non-fasting” throughout the day aka voluntary abstinence from food or drink.

Example: Meals are eaten from 8am-3pm, with fasting during the remaining hours of the day. This is one method. Another is 5:2. The 5:2 diet calls for limiting your caloric intake to 500 calories two nonconsecutive days per week while eating a healthy diet in the normal caloric range (2,000 for women; 2,500 for men) the rest of the week.

We are going to get into the science and all of that good stuff BUT FIRST- lets conquer the “diet” culture issue.

It’s controversial- but it doesn’t have to be. Finding a diet that works means that it becomes easy for you and becomes your lifestyle. We are not all wired the same way which means not every type of “diet” will work for everyone. Intuitive eating works for us; however, we have seen patients that do well on ketogenic, intermittent fasting, weight watchers, etc. if you are following a diet correctly. If it works for you, if you find it easy, and you are able to create a lifestyle from it then go for it. A diet should be sustainable and make you feel healthy. It should not feel as if you are deprived. You should not be drifting away at work and obsessing about the foods you cannot eat. If this is you, you are on the wrong “diet” [and we don’t mean just being excited about your next meal- because who isn’t- no, we mean obsession].

But if your “diet” of choice is sustainable and keeps you from chronic disease/obesity- go for it. We give the word “diet” more power than it needs to have and to be honest we aren’t sure why. Diet: the kinds of food that a person habitually eats; therefore, technically, we are all following our own, personal “diet”. To try and put everyone in the same box, to try and say what works for one will work for all- isn’t the case, in our opinion.

With any lifestyle choice [including diet] moderation is key.

Example: with the ketogenic diet- make sure your sodium intake isn’t in excess. Be sure to watch your fat/cholesterol intake. With intermittent fasting- don’t be extreme, be moderate. Don’t fast for days [exceptions sometimes include religious purposes]. Fast because it fits in with your life and your schedule. Whatever makes your body feel good, is what is right for you.

In all honesty, Patrick and I have both seen people that have had wonderful outcomes with ketogenic, intermittent fasting etc. diets. We know of physicians and dietitians themselves on these diets. We know equally as many people who have gained weight from the diets and had a terrible experience. The difference between the people that do well and those who don’t is moderation. You shouldn’t be malnourished, obsessing, or wanting to binge on a gallon of ice cream whenever you get the chance. It should feel sustainable and simple. That’s what a realistic lifestyle change comes down to.

I love what a nutrition professor from Harvard University said,

“But intermittent fasting may have a beneficial effect on diet psychology for some people”, says Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “One of my patients felt strongly that he didn’t want to be bothered with tracking calories and filling out food records. Instead, he opted for a 5:2 fasting approach, which has worked well for him”. The main goal is to develop a healthy eating pattern that is sustainable, McManus says.

Before we get into details on intermittent fasting, right off the bat, unless working very closely with your physician, we would not recommend this lifestyle for diabetics [as meals and snacks with insulin schedule is crucial], pregnant women, or people with other medical illnesses. This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for medical advice, so please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Now back to details on intermittent fasting.


As with every diet, benefits are exaggerated and risks of taking the diet to an “extreme” are downplayed. That’s why knowing the science behind diets is important.

science behind intermittent fasting

“The idea is that during the fasting period, cells are under a mild stress and they respond to the stress adaptively by enhancing their ability to cope with stress and, maybe, to resist disease. Researchers compare this to vigorous exercise, which stresses, muscles and the cardiovascular system. As long as you give your body time to recover, it will grow stronger. There is considerable similarity between how cells respond to the stress of exercise and how cells respond to intermittent fasting.” – Mark Mattson, senior investigator for the National Institute on Aging, part of the US National Institutes of Health. Mark Mattson is also a professor of neuroscience in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

findings from the studies

  • Participants who adhered to the diet lost 8% of their initial body weight over 8 weeks. They also saw a decrease in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation, and improvement of asthma-related symptoms and several quality-of-life indicators.
  • Intermittent restriction (fasting from 10-16hrs/day) was as effective as continuous restriction (5:2 method) for improving weight loss, insulin sensitivity and other health biomarkers.
  • Mattson researched the protective benefits of fasting to neurons. If you don’t eat for 10–16 hours, your body will go to its fat stores for energy, and fatty acids called ketones will be released into the bloodstream. This has been shown to protect memory and learning functionality as well as slow disease processes in the brain.
  • Even a single fasting interval (e.g., overnight) can reduce basal concentrations of metabolic biomarkers associated with chronic disease such as insulin and glucose.
  • IF [intermittent fasting] has been linked to warding off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • IF has been inked to improving memory and mood.
  • Per a study done at UF, intermittent fasting caused a slight increase to SIRT 3, a well-known gene that promotes longevity and is involved in protective cell responses.
  • The same UF study also showed intermittent fasting decreased insulin levels in the participants, which means the diet could have an anti-diabetic effect as well.

our take from this

We are going to be honest with you – it comes down to calorie intake. Whether it is ketogenic, intermittent fasting, weight watchers, low sugar, Mediterranean, etc- the above benefits are happening, to overweight and obese people, because they are losing fat. Getting rid of excess body fat will improve a person’s metabolic profile and lower cardiovascular risk but there’s no strong evidence that fasting adds health benefits beyond any other weight-loss strategy. If you are already a healthy weight- you already have those benefits mentioned above.

This is why it comes down to you. It depends on what works for you and what is sustainable. It depends on what motivates you. The second your “diet” becomes an unhealthy cycle of restriction and obsession, you lose every single health benefit. Happiness is moderation. Practice discipline without obsession. Do not let your diet define you. Focus on health and nourishing your body. Find your motivation to eat healthy whether that is to avoid chronic disease, feel better about yourself, or to just live your best damn life.

Our best diet recommendation: Increase your fruit + vegetable consumption to 10+ cups a day. Everything else is up to what works for you and what keeps you mentally and physically happy and healthy.


http://www.johnshopkinshealthreview.com/issues/spring-summer-2016/articles/are-there-any-proven-benefits-to-fasting

http://easacademy.org/trainer-resources/article/intermittent-fasting

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/intermittent-fasting-may-be-center-of-increasing-lifespan/

http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2015/02/feast-and-famine-diet-could-extend-life-study-shows.html

Matcha > Coffee & Adderall

MATCHA! I love it in and on all things. Pancakes (see below), oatmeal, yogurt, obviously my daily morning concoction (that I’ll share with you all) – I mean I’d sprinkle it on pizza if people wouldn’t look at me all funny. I tried it for the first time in high school and have been hooked since! I sprinkle it in almost everything for a bit of clean feeling energy & that earthy taste that keeps me comin back every time.

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Side Note: Add a tablespoon of Matcha to your pancake batter & a teaspoon of spirulina. I made these pancakes with whole wheat & coconut flour. Post to follow on benefits of spirulina & the pancake recipe!

From the Dietitian: Hope you all are seated because I could go on about the health benefits for quite some time. I’m gonna bullet it for you all so it’s not a bunch of mumbo jumo. I get excited and then everything starts running together haha! Background: I just got Patrick started on Matcha. Let’s just say the guy is not easy to convince (totally a science guy-EVERYTHING must be proven with research and yadda yadda). At first he looked at me like I had 10 heads and then he tried it and he now drinks it every morning & is equally as obsessed as I am. Why did I start Patrick on it this month? He started his rotation in the MICU (Medical ICU). This means 30hr shifts/>80hr work week and a lot of intensity. Clean, calm, alert energy- YES! Perfecto timing you could say! I make a matcha drink in the morning with a lot of additions- I’m going to share this with you on a later post but the main ingredient is MATCHA!

From the Doctor: He can’t say much because he just started drinking it two weeks ago! But like I said, he drinks it every morning because he feels like he has sustained energy throughout the day without the crash! Do we still drink coffee sometimes (yes- we are not anti-coffee at all. Just prefer Matcha).

From the Dietitian (I’m back again!): 

  • Stuffed to the rim with antioxidants, EGCG (or epiocatechin gallate – great for metabolic & cardiovascular health), L-theanine and polyphenols- this puppy serves as quite the immune defense
  • But back to L-theanine. Because this is my favorite thing about Matcha & why I will forever choose tea over coffee. L-theanine is an amino acid that has a calming effect. It’s found in both black and green tea. A lot of people will take L-theanine for anxiety! This is why there is less of a crash with tea like a lot of people have with coffee. Matcha gives me a calm/alert feeling that I love love love. Who needs nasty adderall? 👎🏻

Side note: We all are super busy humans these days. We work hard and don’t rest as often as we should. Probably why people love adderall so much- it’s why I did. I was prescribed adderall throughout college. I’d take it and then stop because I HATE the side effects- but I loved the focus. Matcha gives me that mentally alert feeling without the horrible crash that makes me turn into a gremlin! I’m not going to delve too much into adderall because a. my hubby isn’t home so I can’t pretend like I know all about the logistics (not my scope haha) BUT b. I hate the stuff & for me- I didn’t think it was good for my body.

  • Polyphenols-  Before I go here, there is ongoing research with this topic. Polyphenols are a great source of antioxidants. And we all say antioxidants but I think people forget what it actually means and I love love chemistry so I’m taking this opportunity! Definition: An antioxidant is a molecule that prevents another molecule from oxidizing. Lots of processes in the body cause oxidation naturally (this can also happen from poor diet/pollution/UV rays etc)- the intake of antioxidants is needed to counteract some of the negative results of the build up of too many oxidized molecules. Picture you have three molecules: You have a healthy molecule (full of electrons aka happy), you have a free radical molecule (missing an electron aka unhappy) and you have an antioxidant molecule. The free radical wants to take an electron from your happy molecule (causing damage) BUT instead the antioxidant (as kind and generous as it is) gives an electron to the free radical so it doesn’t have to take an electron from your happy molecules (see photo below)!  AND IN TURN reducing the progression of diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative  (ex: Alzheimer’s) and cardiovascular diseases. Sounds pretty fabulous to me- if that doesn’t make you want to drink matcha and eat your fruits and veggies I don’t know what will. ATOMS2
  • Matcha can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar
  • High in Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin C, chromium, and magnesium- I will post about importance of mineral don’t you all worry. But I’ll spare ya since I just went on a chemistry binge.
  • Contains fiber (anti constipation club here)Matcha-Antioxidants-Chart-Other-Foodscaffeine-chart-ig_1024I hope you all enjoyed & Knox wishes you all a very happy Sunday!