What is Intermittent Fasting? 

Intermittent fasting is a dietary lifestyle that has been around for centuries and is a vital part of many different religions. Intermittent fasting can be performed many different ways and is described as eating on a set schedule while fasting (or not eating) for certain prolonged periods of time. It is generally fine to enjoy water and unsweetened coffee or tea during a fast, but no food should be consumed.

There is immense research on intermittent fasting, and much of the research shows great benefit to this practice, no matter how it’s done. Intermittent fasting has the potential to lower levels of oxidative stress throughout your body. This means your body is better able to fight free radicals and inflammation.

Second, fasting improves your body’s ability to handle stress. Essentially, fasting activates stress response systems that reinforce the fight against stress, decreasing your chances of chronic disease and the aging process in general.

Is this the fountain of youth? Well, there’s much to still be determined!

We do know that intermittent fasting shows benefits such as the following:

  • Decreased inflammation and chronic disease (this includes benefiting those with dry eyes, since inflammation is a huge component)
  • Weight loss
  • Blood sugar management
  • Protection for your brain
  • Improved heart health

Intermittent fasting should be thought of as a lifestyle change and not a diet. Although weight loss is one benefit, losing weight doesn’t need to be the primary goal because there are many other benefits that contribute to a healthier you.

Everyone is different, and any fasting practice should be discussed with your doctor before beginning. Some women may run into issues with intermittent fasting due to hormone levels, so it’s best to ease into the practice and follow some of the tips below.

Intermittent Fasting Guide

The most popular ways to intermittent fast include the following (although there are many variations out there):

  • 16/8 Fasting or Time Restricted Feeding: Fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an 8 hour period. Often, this means not eating anything after dinner (8pm) until lunch (12pm) the next day. You’ll need to make sure you’re getting your body’s allotment of healthy calories in during that 8 hour window, and this is often the best program to start with.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Choosing one day out of the week to fast for 24 hours. This would include fasting from dinner one night (6-8pm) to dinner the next night (6-8pm). You would then resume eating healthfully but normally for the rest of the week.
  • 5/2 Fasting: Eating normally but healthfully for 5 days of the week and fasting for 2 non-consecutive days of the week (24 hours each time). Some people may eat nothing on their fasting days, and others may eat only a small amount (around 500 calories).

Where women are concerned, the above plans are not always optimal.  Hormone fluctuations can easily drive a woman into starvation mode, which causes insatiable hunger and overeating due to ramped up levels of the hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Women will do best to speak with their doctor beforehand, ensuring that there is no reason they shouldn’t fast. Also, easing into it is key! Here are a few tips for women:

  • Start by fasting for 12 hours, from after dinner at 7pm to the next morning at your 7am breakfast. Increase your fasting time from there, one hour per week, so after a few weeks you’re able to fast for the full 16 hours.
  • Choose only 2 non-consecutive days out of the week to begin overnight fasting (for example, Tuesday and Thursday). Do not begin by fasting every night of the week.
  • When you’re fasting, you can still exercise but you want it to be light (think walking or yoga). Try to avoid running long distances or heavy lifting.
  • Drink lots of water during your fast (you may also have unsweetened tea or coffee).
  • Do not fast if you are pregnant, as fasting can deplete your nutrient stores. If you are nursing, discuss this with your doctor.

As discussed, intermittent fasting should be thought of as a lifestyle shift and not a diet. There are so many great benefits to intermittent fasting, including for dry eyes. By intermittent fasting, you can decrease full body inflammation, allow your cells to turn over more readily, and therefore notice more comfortable eyes and a healthier body overall. 

My Intermittent Fasting Schedule

Morning Schedule for Intermittent Fasting

  • 5:30 am – 6:30 am: wake up and drink 32-50 ounces of water right after waking up, meditation and workout until 6:30 am
  • 6:30 am – 7:30 am: make myself 1 cup of organic green tea or organic black tea (nothing added) – work and drink my tea or coffee until my son wakes up at 7:30 am
  • 7:30 am – 9:00 am: hang out with my son and read, drinking water as needed
  • 9:00 am – 11:45 am: work, drinking water as needed

Lunch Schedule for Intermittent Fasting

  • 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: I eat a green smoothie, go on a walk with Jude, hangout with Jenna. 
  • 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: work and snack on vegetables and hummus, low sugar fruits like berries, organic and raw nuts like brazilian nuts, 

Dinner Schedule for Intermittent Fasting

  • 5:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Dinner with Jenna and Jude, which is heavily vegetable based with healthy oils like organic coconut oil and organic olive oil.  

Intermittent Fasting Schedule and Times

  • 5:30 pm – 12:00 pm (next day)  

Tips to Help Prevent Breaking Your Fast

  • Brush your teeth right after dinner and right after your morning coffee or tea.  This will prevent the urge to snack on anything. 
  • Avoid areas in your house and workplace that contain snacks (break rooms and kitchens).
  • Leave  your afternoon snacks, lunch, and dinner items in your car at work so it is harder to go get them and you can’t get them until lunch when you are ready to break your fast.
  • Finally, always consult your physician before trying this as it is NOT for everyone.  

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Dr. Barry

Dr. Barry

November 4, 2021