Is fasting good for you?

Eoin Roe, Chiropractic

Call 087 958 2362
www.eoinroechiropractic.com

Everybody seems to be talking about fasting these days and the impression that I get from articles I am reading is that it is good for everyone. But that is not strictly true.  For the purpose of this article, I am talking here about intermittent fasting, not fasting for days or weeks. Muscle loss will occur if fasting for extended periods, as your body starts to cannibalise your own muscles to stabilise your blood sugar and this is not advisable. 

Photo by Kim Cruickshanks on Unsplash

So let’s talk about intermittent fasting, what it is, and what it does to your physiology.

To understand fasting physiology we need to talk a little about blood sugar. If you have read my previous articles about blood glucose you will know that when you eat, your blood glucose will go up. After about four to five hours you will need to eat again to maintain your blood glucose levels, hence the usual gap between meals of four to five hours during the day.  

At night, especially if you are eating your evening meal at 6pm and your breakfast at 8am, you will have had approximately 13 hours of fasting, and in order for your body to maintain a good level of blood glucose, your body will have to produce glucose in the liver by burning fats and proteins. Your body will do this automatically while you are asleep.

Fasting is often used as a weight loss strategy, as it utilises the fat burning capacity of your body. Correctly implemented you can make your body burn fats and proteins to stabilise blood glucose; you will lose weight and help stabilise your blood glucose and insulin levels at the same time.

If your blood glucose levels are high and you are trying to lose weight then intermittent fasting may be part of the solution for you. But it is also important to change the types of food you are eating before you start fasting. If you continue to eat a high carb/high sugar diet you may find fasting very difficult. This is because your body is not used to converting fats and proteins into glucose, and is finding it hard to stabilize your blood sugar. Making dietary changes before you start fasting will be very beneficial.

If on the other hand you find that you wake in the night, don’t function well unless you eat, or get cranky when you skip meals, fasting may not be the best solution for you. In fact you may have lower-than-optimal blood sugar and fasting should be avoided – You may even need to eat more regularly and focus on eating more protein and healthy fats to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and the night.

The general advice, which is good for everybody is to eat three meals a day and have a large gap (fast) between dinner and breakfast. If you are trying to manage blood sugar problems or weight issues, then fasting may be appropriate. However for those with a functionally low blood sugar level, then fasting is often problematic.

If you would like support understanding your blood sugar and what approach is best for you then please contact me on 087 9582362 or eoin@roeclinic.ie.

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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