Intermittent Fasting Works—If It’s Done Right: Intermittent fasting has been touted as the answer to just about every health problem imaginable.
From increasing lifespan, to killing cancer cells, to speeding up metabolism, intermittent fasting has been touted as the answer to just about every health problem imaginable—and a good preventive strategy too. But people who don’t fast properly are wasting their time and potentially risking their health, says Dr. Michael Wald, a Katonah-based chiropractor, dietician and nutritionist.
“Fasting can cause harm or at the very least cause distress in your body, mostly by wearing out your adrenal glands,” he says. “I’ve seen dozens of well-intentioned patients whose intermittent fasting actually triggered their thyroid to slow town, promoted inflammation by stressing the body, and disrupted their hormone levels.”
There’s no proof yet that intermittent fasting increases life span in humans the way it does with mice, Wald says. And while intermittent fasting does cause weight loss, if it isn’t done the right way, much of the loss will be water weight.
“Fasting can speed up metabolic rate, but unless you’re consistently careful about what you take in during the eating phase, the weight loss won’t last,” he says. “If you really want to know if your efforts are causing fat loss, which is much more permanent, you have to measure your lean body mass. In short, you want more lean body mass—organ mass and lean muscle—which burns fat. Gaining of lean mass is equivalent to an increased health and life span.”
People should also choose the best fasting schedule for them—something that must be determined through a detailed health consultation and proper lab work, including blood and urine tests to check for specific metabolic and nutritional problems, he says.
“When done correctly, intermitting fasting can help you lose weight permanently and boost your body’s ability to heal,” Wald says. “However, a single session of intermittent fasting, even when done correctly, is not healing, but a Band-Aid.”