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Is Intermittent Fasting Healthy?

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

Intermittent fasting is a popular trend today, but has been practiced for a long time at lifestyle centers like Wildwood (Ga.) and Uchee Pines (Ala.). N. David Emerson, M.D., says eating only breakfast and lunch and fasting for 12 or 14–15 hours a day, a form of intermittent fasting, is beneficial because it helps lower insulin levels.

He continues, “Our bodies shift back and forth from burning mainly carbohydrates to mainly fats. After a plant-based meal with lots of carbohydrates—which is a healthy diet—the sugar concentration in the blood increases and insulin enters the blood and shifts our metabolism to burning carbohydrates and storing fats and preserving—that is, not burning—fats to save them for later. Insulin allows sugar to enter the cells to be burned or stored as a starch or fat.”

He adds, “When the blood sugars drop several hours after a meal, the metabolism shifts to burning more fats and less carbohydrates under the influence of rising glucagon and lowering insulin levels. For those trying to lose weight, the more hours spent in the fat-burning mode means a reduction in weight. Lower insulin levels put us in that mode. When Uchee Pines co-founder Agatha Thrash, M.D., was asked how to lose weight, her simple reply was, ‘Skip suppers,’ and now you know why.”

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