Intermittent fasting has risen in popularity lately. You're likely to find a weight-loss story on Instagram that features a woman who has found success with this diet, and I myself have had great experiences with it. I started intermittent fasting about three months ago, originally as a way to lose weight for a special occasion, but I ended up feeling so incredible, both physically and mentally, that I decided to stick with it.
But I've always wondered what experts think about this particular diet. Do they approve of it? Are they skeptical? I spoke to Dr. Luiza Petre, board-certified cardiologist and weight-management specialist, about her day-to-day diet, and I was thrilled to learn that she, too, is a fan of IF. She actually practices it every day.
The number one rule Dr. Petre follows in her own diet is that she gives herself 14 hours of fasting between dinner and breakfast. "Intermittent fasting helps with cravings, mood, and memory. It improves blood sugar levels, decreases risk of cancer and heart disease, and might help with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's," Dr. Petre told POPSUGAR. "I find it helps with weight management, too." Studies have even suggested that fasting in this way elongates your life span.
"Your body starts and stays in its fed state while absorbing and digesting food. This lasts four to five hours after you begin eating, and during that time your insulin levels are high and your body does not burn fat," Dr. Petre explained. "When your body is done processing its meal, it can begin to burn fat because insulin levels are low. We enter a fasting state after 12 hours, which is the ideal for fat burning."
However, Dr. Petre says the normal eating schedule that most of us follow "rarely allows you to make it into this fat-burning state," so you're not giving your body the chance to do what it's naturally meant to do. By expanding the time frame between dinner and breakfast, even by just a few hours, you could improve your body's fat-burning abilities and speed up weight loss.
"I do try and have a larger lunch and smaller dinner because it helps keep me feeling full and focused. The results are less snacking and I'm not starving at dinner," Dr. Petre added. Although she doesn't have a strict cutoff time for dinner, "it will usually be on the early side."
More than just weight loss, though, Dr. Petre notes that IF is great for having more energy and better moods. I have additionally experienced much less bloating from eating within this schedule, which has helped immensely with my digestion. You don't necessarily have to start following Dr. Petre's eating schedule religiously, but you might want to give it a try for yourself and see if it makes a positive difference in your life.