Intermittent fasting: What is it and is it right for you?

Intermittent fasting is a popular topic with many news articles and celebrities touting the benefits. Raleigh Raw owner Sherif Fouad said he and many customers love the lifestyle.

"Personally, I don't eat until noon and a lot of our guests are the same way and just we're just kind of taking the recommended diet and putting it on its head," Fouad said. "I lost 3 percent body fat."

Intermittent fasting is an ancient practice. Almost every major world religion practices some kind of fasting. Recently, the practice got a jolt in popularity from many published studies and the ketogenic diet as intermittent fasting can be described as putting the body into a mild state of ketosis to burn fat.

"Intermittent fasting can be a really powerful tool with preventing or reversing disease processes," explained Blair Cuneo, a physicians assistant with Carolina Total Wellness in Raleigh.

Cuneo said intermittent fasting isn't about not eating, it's about eating at certain times of the day.

"It's not changing what you eat, but when you're eating it," Cuneo explained. "So, daily intermittent fasting could be looking at a 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. window of eating and then fast, no eating until 10 a.m. the next day.

"So, by cutting off the time that we're eating, the body can tap into that fat fuel source and also allow decreased inflammation, and some healing effects associated with intermittent fasting," she added.

Cuneo says the biggest health benefit has been found when a patient can reach 14 or 16 hours of fasting, and there are different types of fasting intervals for patients.

Intermittent fasting isn't for everyone especially diabetics, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or patients on medications requiring food, but for those who it does work for, the benefits can be quickly noticeable.

"Definitely, the most common thing that people remark on is more energy and mental clarity," Cuneo said.

Cuneo says patients should always speak to a health-care provider before starting any diet.
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