Intermittent fasting (IF) is the intentional restricting of our mealtimes to maximize health. Media coverage tends to paint IF as the latest fad diet … except it’s neither a fad nor a diet. IF existed long before it blipped on Google Trends (before humans could read or write, actually, but more on that later). IF lacks other diets’ bizarre rules: “eat only grapefruit” or “drink cabbage juice.”
IF really isn’t a “diet.” Think of intermittent fasting like the dietary cousin to restricting kids’ screen time. Limiting computer time keeps our kids from gorging on YouTube and helps their developing brains. IF does the same for our bodies.
The secret to IF’s appeal is its simplicity. You merely don’t eat for a certain number of hours per day (or days per week). Those who practice 16/8 IF, for example, fast for 16 hours and then allow themselves food for eight hours. While a 16-hour fast sounds extreme, remember, you’ll probably be asleep for eight of those hours. And, really, we shouldn’t be eating late at night anyway, right? Paired with a sensible meal plan, IF can be a powerful tool for controlling blood sugar levels.
Fad diets fail because they ask us to juggle a thousand different rules. Is this vegetable Keto-approved? Are these burgers Paleo? IF replaces the maze of rules with one simple code: only eat during a set window of time.
The way most Americans eat—breakfast when we wake, lunch near noon and dinner near sunset—is a new-ish invention. Three meals just happened to fit the Industrial Revolution workday. Even in modern times, “three square meals'' isn't universal. Non-diabetics with hypoglycemia, for example, often eat many smaller meals a day to regulate blood sugar. Many farming cultures eat five or six meals a day. The Greeks and Spanish are infamous for their 11pm “dinners.”
For most of human history, we ate what we could when we could. We have body fat for a reason, after all. When our ancestors failed hunting Mammoths, fat kept them alive. When they found a walnut grove, our ancestors gorged to build up fat reserves. Simply put, our forebears lived in a perpetual state of intermittent fasting.
Ages of hunter-gathering shaped our bodies. From an evolutionary standpoint, intermittent fasting is more “normal” than breakfast-lunch-dinner. Add in issues brought on by our modern processed foods, ultra-rich and sugar-heavy, and it becomes clear that maybe IF, biologically speaking, is the way to go.
This is the hook for most people to try IF. Systematic studies show a strong correlation between IF and weight loss. Between 2001 and 2009, 27 different trials examined the interplay of IF and weight loss. Participants lost weight in all 27 trials. That’s an astounding result.
The asterisk here (there’s always an asterisk, right?) is that the study of intermittent fasting is a relatively nascent field. Established science generally stretches back decades and centuries. Scientists need much more data before definitely linking IF and weight loss. Still, participants losing weight in 27 of 27 IF trials is a very promising start.
The other interesting aspect of IF is its potential to extend human lifespan. Obviously, weight loss lowers our risk for a whole host of diseases. Less disease means longer life. IF offers more than that, though. Emerging science suggests that IF affects our bodies on a cellular level, improving health and increasing lifespans.
Autophagy is the process by which our cells break down old materials. Think of it as cellular recycling. Enzymes break down cellular waste and use the product to build fresh new cells. Science suggests intermittent fasting increases autophagy, making our cells more efficient recyclers. This makes us, on a cellular level, “younger.”
IF also increases mitochondrial efficiency. Those who still remember their paper plate/jelly bean cell projects from middle school will proudly tell you the mitochondria is “the powerhouse of the cell.” Mitochondria produce the chemical energy our cells rely on. As we age, our mitochondria become less efficient. Studies show, however, that IF reverses cellular aging, giving us the mitochondria of a (relative) teenager.
Though the benefits of IF are alluring, it must be said that this kind of deliberate restriction isn’t for everyone.
Twitter Founder and CEO Jack Dorsey claims eating one meal a day (OMAD) gives him a laser-like focus. If Dorsey were a woman, though, especially a young woman, would we call his habits “intermittent fasting” or would we call them an “eating disorder?” The line can be blurry. And for those who have suffered past eating disorders or the chronically underweight, it’s a line best avoided.
IF probably isn’t a great idea for pregnant and breastfeeding women. IF’s caloric restriction can negatively impact fetal development. And because breastmilk nutrition is largely informed by what the mother eats, restricting diet during breastfeeding can produce less nutritious milk.
The “warning label” on most every scientific study of IF is how it interplays with stress. Deliberately restricting our caloric intake puts a stress on our bodies. For most, this low-level stress is beneficial. It does, after all, help us lose weight and revitalize our cells.
However, for those who already live under a high degree of bodily stress, or those who pair IF with other activities such as cold therapy or lots of high intensity training, extended IF can overload our body’s stress tolerance and cause negative effects.
Because IF directly affects our body’s production of blood sugar, those on insulin therapy or medications that cause hypoglycemia should contact their doctor before beginning an IF regimen.
When it comes to IF and blood glucose, the results are so much more than just calories and weight loss. IF is a boon for numerous bodily systems. It lowers blood glucose. It increases our bodies’ sensitivity to insulin. It reduces inflammation. It makes our digestive and metabolic processes more adaptable, and it can even change when and how our bodies make blood sugar.
While our body does produce some insulin throughout the day, the majority of insulin release happens when we eat. Counting meals and snacks, the typical adult eats six or seven times a day. This means our insulin levels spike six or seven times a day. IF, by reducing the frequency of eating and snacking, lessens our insulin spikes and reduces our body’s overall insulin levels.
Why is this good? Because, in addition to its role in regulating our blood sugar levels, insulin plays a part in cell growth, and both DNA and RNA synthesis. Dangerous increases in insulin levels not only impact our blood sugar, but can hinder cell growth and bodily regeneration.
IF’s increased insulin sensitivity goes hand-in-hand with reduced insulin levels. The more our insulin spikes, the more our body becomes accustomed to insulin (like needing more coffee in the morning the longer you drink it). So the next time we eat, our body needs to spike even more insulin to get the job done.
Additionally, reductions in adiposity (the scientific term for losing body fat) increase our sensitivity to insulin. And wouldn’t you know? One of the benefits of IF is that the weight we lose tends to be fat. This reduces our “adiposity” and increases our insulin sensitivity.
Even with no weight loss, with no reduction in our body fat, science suggests IF still increases our bodies’ sensitivity to insulin. The bodily changes triggered by IF tend to “reprogram” our metabolism. In this scenario, our bodies are like a computer on the fritz—turning it off and back on again usually fixes the problem. IF is like a power switch, resetting how our bodies respond to insulin. Increased insulin sensitivity means our bodies require less insulin to lower our blood glucose.
Our bodies become inflamed as a response to stressors. We often think of stressors as germs or viruses, but the process of metabolizing food is an energy-intensive process that puts oxidative stress on our bodies. Too much oxidative stress makes it difficult for our bodies to detoxify; it’s why so many products and supplements tout themselves as “antioxidants.”
IF, it turns out, is a kind of all-natural antioxidant. Because those who practice IF intentionally limit when they eat, they also, by extension, limit the oxidative stress of metabolism. Limiting this kind of stress is key; a number of diseases—Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, and, most pertinently, diabetes—are thought to arise from excess inflammation and oxidative stress. Lowering inflammation through IF can reduce our susceptibility to these diseases and lessen our symptoms if we already have them.
As we talked about above, humans aren’t really designed for “three square meals a day.” We evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to subsist through cycles of feast and famine. Our ancestors couldn’t just call for fast-food delivery when they got the munchies. The food they did get wasn’t always nutritionally sound, either, meaning the body jealously stored whatever nutrients it could find.
IF simulates our evolutionary feast and famine cycles, but on a much smaller scale. It trains our bodies to smartly use it’s metabolic resources. For example, if your stomach is empty and your body needs energy, IF trains it to metabolize fat reserves as nature intended. This tends to stabilize our blood sugar levels, flattening peaks and lifting valleys. This kind of metabolic flexibility also reduces the side-effects of hunger, meaning we won’t get “hangry” if we’re a few minutes late for dinner.
One of the hidden superpowers of IF is how it boosts our natural circadian rhythms. Deep within everyone’s brain is a master clock that, taking into account external data such as sunlight, nudges our bodies toward certain activities. This circadian rhythm, as it's called, is like having a smartphone pre-set with a whole day’s worth of alarms—wake up, eat lunch, etc.—but much less annoying.
Our circadian rhythm includes a glucose/insulin timer. Sensitivity to insulin actually decreases as the day wears on. It takes our bodies longer to process a piece of toast at 9 PM than it does at noon. Those who practice early time-restricted feeding IF, (sticking with a 16:8 pattern but eating only between 10AM and 6 PM, say), boost insulin’s circadian effectiveness. Overall insulin sensitivity rises. Mean glucose levels fall. By shifting our eating window earlier in the day, we are aligning our food intake with when our body is naturally most insulin sensitive, reducing spikes in insulin and blood sugar.
The important factor here, the one we’ve yet to talk about, is data. Certainly those who practice IF will feel the differences in energy level, but how our bodies feel doesn’t always line up with how our bodies function. We need a steady stream of hard data to ensure our bodies are working like they should.
In this case, a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) is key. CGMs, like those offered from NutriSense, put the power of data in the palm of our hands. Just like the jogger who tends to run faster when they see their pace displayed on their smartphone, we eat smarter and lower our glucose when we have the easy, continual blood sugar data a CGM provides. This data stream is so important, in fact, that many of the studies linking IF to lower glucose levels actually use CGMs to gather data.
With the aid of a quality CGM, we can try on different IF regimes—OMAD, 5:2, or 16/8—like we try on jeans. The glucose data will tell us which kind of IF is the best fit. A CGM gives us instant, reliable blood glucose information to maximize the health benefits of intermittent fasting.
Age isn't the only factor that can affect fertility. Let’s explore how new technology has changed our understanding of fertility and reproductive health..
Watermelon is a hydrating and delicious summertime snack, but have you ever wondered if it can raise your glucose levels? Read on for more about this tasty fruit.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition that involves endocrine and metabolic imbalances. Here are some PCOS friendly foods to include in your diet for better health.
NutriSense dietitian Katrina Larsen, MS, RD,N, LD, CDCES discusses the risk factors for sleep apnea and how this disorder is linked to other health conditions.
A well-stocked kitchen is the key to making healthy eating choices. Let’s explore some kitchen staples that you can keep on hand to make healthy eating easier.
Have you ever wondered how your glucose levels might be connected to joint pain? We'll take a deep dive into this connection and share tips for reducing pain.
Hiking has a host of benefits for your health and fitness. We'll explore how this activity can boost your wellbeing and share a few tips for getting started.
In this article, we break down what a low FODMAP diet looks like for beginners, and its potential benefits and drawbacks for gastrointestinal health.
Russell Battles shares how using a CGM helped him revamp his diet, exercise, and lifestyle after suffering from a heart attack.
Wondering how effective ketones are for building muscle? In this post, we’ll dig into ketones, exercise, and muscle growth to see what the connection is.
Here are nine tips for stabilizing your blood sugar levels, plus some insights from the NutriSense dietitian team on how to detect blood sugar imbalances.
In this article, we explore the the effects that tomatoes may have on blood sugar levels and insulin response, plus other ways that tomatoes can affect your health.
Macro setting and tracking can be valuable tools in reaching your health goals. Here's how to get started.
Let’s take a deep dive into how high blood sugar levels can be a risk factor for kidney failure and what you can do to ensure optimal kidney health.
Did you know that aging can lead to problems with your balance? Read on to find out what can cause balance issues and how you can combat this occurrence.
Do mangos raise blood sugar? Are they good for your health? Read on to find out.
Whether you're trying out “meatless Mondays“ or exploring vegan food for the first time, here's a beginner’s guide to getting started on a plant-based diet.
Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin. Here's how to manage it with evidence based nutrition and lifestyle tips.
Learn what high-intensity resistance training is, how it can benefit your metabolism, and nine tips to get started with HIRT.
Learn more about whether or not avocados raise blood sugar levels, and the many health benefits that can come from including avocados in your diet.
Member Stuart Tutler explains how insights from a CGM helped him change his approach to nutrition and improve his blood sugar levels.
Did you know that living with a pet can do more than just put a smile on your face? Read on to learn all the ways living with pets improves your wellbeing.
Amanda Seitz explains how the NutriSense's 3 month CGM program helped revamp her habits and lifestyle for better glucose response.
Let’s take a deeper look at conditions like the common cold and the flu to see what they can do to your blood sugar levels.
Starting on a weight loss journey might sound daunting if you’re someone who doesn’t love to hit the gym. Here are 20 practical ways to shed a few extra pounds without exercise.
The summertime means switching out hot lattes for iced coffee. Read on to explore dietitian-approved healthy iced coffee drinks.
Kate Brown shares how she was able to lose weight, reduce stress, and manage her anxiety using a CGM.
Let’s have a look at 11 reasons why you may not be shedding weight on a keto diet and a few solutions to help you make it over your weight loss plateau.
A blood ketone level of .5 to 3.0 millimoles per liter is the ideal range for ketosis. Find out more here.
Read on to learn about the potential causes of constipation, how constipation can affect your blood sugar, plus a few tips for healthy stool formation.
In this post, we share our roundup of six NutriSense dietitian-endorsed healthy desserts that will hit the spot this summer. Read on to discover healthy treats for your sweet tooth.
Nordic walking is a full-body workout in which special lightweight poles are held in each hand to activate the entire body while walking. Learn the benefits of Nordic walking and how you can get started with this activity.
Meredith Standridge discusses her takeaways after a year with a CGM, and how NutriSense has helped her implement new, lifelong habits to help her optimize her health.
In this article, we’ll cover 12 of the best exercises to add to your routine to help you lose weight, build muscle, and improve your metabolism.
What are the healthiest types of noodles and how can you turn them into a delicious noodle bowl? Read on to find out.
Insulin resistance can be tough to manage. Learn why it’s important to improve insulin resistance and how you can reduce or reverse the effects of insulin resistance with healthy weight loss.
Polyphenols and tannins are prominent antioxidants found in many common foods. So, what exactly do they do and how can you add them to your diet? Let's find out.
Reducing your exposure to toxins means making your environment healthier. Here are eight dietitian-approved tips for a healthy environment.
Want to boost heart health? Learn which foods reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and which foods add to it.
Weight management is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Here are nine weight management tips.
Staying hydrated is important. We'll guide you through a few dietitian-endorsed hydration tips that can help you boost your daily fluid intake.
Let’s break down just how vital water is for overall health and how dehydration, among other things, can affect blood sugar levels.
The best way to combat low blood sugar at home is to take a glucose tablet or glucose gel. Here’s what to do with low blood sugar at home.
Ready to learn all about fiber beyond just the basics? In this post, we dive deep into the different kinds of fiber and health benefits of each. From functional fiber to fermentation, we break down all the jargon into a layman's language.
Inflammation can have a negative connotation it comes to your health. But could it actually be a good thing when it comes to muscle-building? Read on to find out.
Check out these healthy Fourth of July recipes plus some tips on keeping blood glucose levels steady through the holiday from the NutriSense Nutrition Team.
Dietitian and author of "Heart Disease Cookbook" Katie Reines discusses using a CGM to help balance blood sugars and hormones to manage and reverse health conditions.
Technical writer, competitive ballroom dancer, and seven-year veteran of the carnivore diet, Linda Salant talks about using the CGM to get clarity on how a unique diet could affect blood sugar levels.
Founder of health and fitness brand Shack Fit, John Shackleton is a fitness and nutrition enthusiast. He talks about using the CGM to "check under the hood” and see how his physiology was responding to certain foods.
Athletic trainer Shaye Reynolds talks about feeling stuck on her health journey, and how NutriSense and the CGM Program helped fine-tune her wellness routine and have a better understanding of her diet and workout practices.
If you're gearing up to travel or spend more time outdoors this summer, here are a few tips to help you stay safe and hydrated in the sun.
When Christine Aochi was diagnosed with prediabetes, she knew she had to start focusing more on her health. She tells us how the CGM and dietitian support with NutriSense helped her to lower her blood glucose levels, lose weight, and enjoy her food.
Charlotte LaGuardia, MS, CNS, CDN, is the owner of virtual nutrition practice, Thrive East. She talks to us about using data points and experiments with a CGM to make informed decisions about health and wellness.
Elite athlete and founder of Pure Massage Boulder, Tracey Jacobs is committed to her health. She discusses using the CGM with dietitian support to help maximize performance and elevate her workouts.
Jennifer Brumit loves the CGM because it helps her add to what she already does to stay healthy. She talks about why she thinks everyone should be using one to educate themselves and boost overall wellness.
Donating blood can save a life, and these donations are needed more often than you may think. Read on to learn how autoimmune conditions affect your eligibility to donate.
As a new mom, you may be eager to regain your pre-pregnancy body, but it's essential to take things slow and follow postpartum diet guidelines. Read on to discover dietitian recommended postpartum guidelines to losing weight.
Alongside a healthy diet, adding certain nutrients can help with achieving optimal blood glucose levels. Here are nine supplements that help your body do just that!
We asked our Nutrition Team to help us debunk 14 popular nutrition and lifestyle myths. Here's what our dietitians—and the research—say about these age-old myths.
You may have always considered oatmeal to be a healthy breakfast option, but is it really that good for you? Let’s break down the different components of oatmeal and find out.
To help you make the most of the warmer weather, we asked Carlee Hayes, RDN, CD, and Nutrition Manager here at NutriSense, to share a few of her favorite summer soup recipes.
Insulin resistance can create a variety of health issues and lead to type 2 diabetes. Here are nine effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity for improved metabolic health.
Did you know your gut influences how well your brain functions? Here are our top dietitian approved tips to boost gut health for improved cognitive functioning.
Catherine Staffieri discusses the impact of glucose on hormones, perimenopause and menopause, weight loss and the incredible benefits of using a CGM as a tool to help you feel your best.
To discuss how a health coach can incorporate this in their practice, Health Coach Academy invited Carlee Hayes to the show.
This week, we’ve compiled some of our favorite podcasts that go beyond nutrition. Here are 20 wellness-focused podcasts to add to your queue.
Are BCAAs worth it? This post digs into 30+ years of research to answer this question. The answer may surprise you.
Menopause can be a difficult journey, so we've compiled some of the most effective, science backed tips to help you with menopause-related weight gain.
Father’s Day is around the corner, and whether you’re celebrating your dad, a father figure, or another cherished loved one, helping them take care of their health can be the ultimate gift.
Here's a helpful list of some of our favorite low-carb snacks that can help you keep your diet varied and full of healthy nutrients.
Whether you're looking for low GI summer snacks or healthy sweet treats, this post has got you covered. Here are tasty low glycemic index recipes everyone will enjoy!
Wondering if grapes are safe for people with diabetes to include in their diet? Read on to find out.
Cholesterol plays a very important role in the human body, contributing to the structure of the cells, helping with vitamin D synthesis, and also promoting the production of steroid and sex hormones, like cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and estrogen. But how exactly is cholesterol connected to blood glucose levels?
We sat down with Kara Collier, our co-founder and VP of Health here at NutriSense, to take a closer look at how CGMs work and what you need to know about these devices before using one.
Are carbs and sugar the same? In this post, we break down the key differences between the two and share the benefits of complex carbohydrates.
Read on to learn more about DOMS, how long it can last, and then pick from our list of the best breakfasts to help beat that post-workout soreness, support muscle building, and encourage fat loss.
When it comes to lowering blood sugar levels, not all supplements are created equal. From ginseng to aloe vera, here are some of the best supplements to help avoid high blood sugar and encourage blood sugar control.
Bloating that results from a surgery can sometimes be an unexpected part of the recovery process. Is there anything you can do to reduce bloating or prevent it from happening? And what causes this bloating anyway? Read on to find the answer to these questions and much more to help you combat your post-surgery swelling.
Learn why fiber is classified as a carb and how to increase your intake of this health promoting nutrient.
Did you know Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease? Read on to learn what it's like living with PD plus discover treatment options.
From rosemary water to dry scooping, should you be trying every new trend that hits TikTok? How can you tell which ones may help and which ones to steer clear of?
As great as sugar tastes, including too much of it in your diet can lead to certain health problems. Read on to learn more about the role sugar plays in keeping your skin healthy.
Read on to see which podcasts our dietitians recommend if you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and health.
Nicotine is a chemical in tobacco that can affect your health in various ways. Read our article to learn how it impacts blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
CGMs are now an excellent tool for anyone who wants to optimize their metabolic health. Read on to find out more about the benefits CGMs can have for healthy people!
Although bariatric surgery can be an effective way to lose weight and improve health for people who are obese, it’s a major decision. Find out what lifestyle changes you need to make before going under the knife.
Excited to fire up the grill this summer? Read on to learn if grilling is healthy for you plus check out the NutriSense Nutrition Team's favorite grilling recipes for the season.
Did you know that your gut health can impact your blood glucose levels? Explore ways to improve your gut health for optimal glucose levels.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease that can cause swelling and joint pain. Learn more about how it develops and how other health conditions affect its onset.
We’ve hand-picked the best weight loss apps available. Here are the thirteen best weight loss apps.
An emerging treatment, red light therapy promises to prevent and treat the signs of aging and other skin issues. Read on to find out more.
Struggling to stick with a health-promoting diet? Here’s how to make it enjoyable so you can reap the benefits.
VP of Health and co-founder of NutriSense Kara Collier discusses reaching optimal health through blood sugar regulation, what a continuous glucose monitor is, and who might benefit from using it.
In this episode of Zero to CEO, Jason Sherman talks to Dan Zavorotny about how to turn your idea into a 120 person team in 2.5 years.
Body mass index is a term you may have seen tossed around quite a bit in the health world. You may know that it’s a way to measure body fat, but with so many new tests for measuring overall fitness and health, is BMI still reliable?
If you're watching your glucose levels, traditional BBQ staples may not be the best choice. Here are some recipes that will help you enjoy a Memorial Day meal without a blood sugar spike.
Mental health has a significant impact on your overall health; here are tips, tools, and apps to improve your mental wellbeing.
Living with diabetes can be a challenge, especially when it comes to keeping your blood sugar levels regulated. Learn if you can check your blood sugar at home without a meter.
With summer right around the corner, it’s time to make sure you have the tools you need to protect yourself from sunburn and sun damage. But how do you choose the right one for adequate sun protection?
Learn how Japanese water therapy can help with weight loss, energy levels, and detoxification.