The Magic of Intermittent Fasting to Improve Your Health

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
If you told me years ago I would be doing some sort of fasting to get my health back on track I would\’ve been shocked since the only two times I remember fasting ( for religious/cultural reasons) I thought I was going to DIE



What is Intermittent Fasting ?

Mattson et al. have used INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF) as the umbrella term to define “eating patterns in which individuals go extended time periods (e.g., 16–48 h) with little or no energy intake, with intervening periods of normal food intake, on a recurring basis”

A subcategory of that is Time Restricted Feeding (TRF) which means eating only during a specific time period during the day usually limited to 8-10 hours 

I\’ve been Intermittent Fasting (IF) specifically for me Time Restricted feeding (TRF)  for close to 2 years now AND I feel I have completely reset my body 

I feel healthier, more energetic–> specifically NO EXHAUSTION in the mornings, and I don’t need to workout as much to maintain my weight even with unhealthy eating habits at times

 Like with everything else and what I tell my patients BABY STEPS first. 

I started off trying TRF 2-3 x  a week and once I realized I could do it it gave me the confidence to do more days 

More importantly the days I did it I felt more disciplined, structured and my brain felt alert. 

Oh by the way KEY POINT is WITHOUT starving . 

Sure Diets can be structured too but I always felt it was eventually mental torture. And anything that equates with torture probably wont last long and this is why Ifeel I yo-yo\’d with my weight  a lot in the past.

I remember trying to lose my post partum weight –> TORTURE. I focused on less carbs, more meat and even hired a trainer to shed the pounds.

 With all the effort,  I think I lost 5 lbs in 2 months !


 This was a WAKE UP CALL to me and hence my health journey began 

 I gave up on old ideas and old ways and started to READ and RESEARCH since that’s what I do if things don’t make sense to me. 

That’s the great thing about technology. We have access to everything online! I came across plant based eating, functional medicine, intermittent fasting and literally my whole view on HEALTH changed.

Even though this article is primarily about Intermittent Fasting I have to bring up some points about processed food/packaged foods because even if you try intermittent fasting and eat the WRONG FOOD you might lose a little weight but you still won’t be healthy 

In fact it\’ll be much harder to lose weight because processed food, believe it or not is actually like a drug.

It takes your glucose/insulin and hunger hormones on a roller coaster and you will most likely feel hungry all the time.

 Checklist in my brain after reading/research/listening to podcasts

  • eat more veggies –> GOT IT
  • eat more lentils→ GOT IT
  • eat whole grains with fiber uhhhhh JESUS that’s a whole lot of carbs (my enemy until this point) but–> GOT IT
  • eat what the earth gave you and COOK! Damn that’s work but again–>GOT IT

Seriously, what did I have to lose? Whatever I was doing wasn\’t working

All these articles on processed food which BTW  is ANYTHING packaged BLEW my mind. 

I was introduced to exceptional leaders in health and wellness to learn from ,two of my stars being Dr Mark Hyman, pioneer of functional medicine and Vani Hari ,The Food Babe

Wait…. packaged foods with chemicals and commercial oils are bad even though the package says it\’s good for me? 

Man Made food will affect my hunger hormones and insulin levels which won\’t allow me to lose weight and get healthy?

Don\’t get me wrong not Everything is completely bad for us but my brain never thought of things this way 

I became so carb/calorie focused and brainwashed by the food industry/media  around me

Some of my fave things to snack on were cold cuts ,beef jerky, and packaged protein bars FYI –>ALL PROCESSED 

A light bulb went off in my head

 I AM NOT EATING HEALTHY if I’m consuming food made in a factory

We are living in an era where I had to retrain my brain and body and go back to the basics 

I had to go back to how my parents taught me to eat when I was younger. It all got lost.

 It all made sense but it only came to me when I was searching for answers.

Unfortunately in medical school I think I had one nutrition class and everything else I knew was through my own interest and reading. 

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of negative articles on Intermittent fasting  and honestly with everything there is going to be positive and negative. 

It may not actually work for you and you may not like the way you feel but seriously how do you know if you don\’t try it?

 I tell my patients, give every new habit/lifestyle change about 2-3 months for you to really judge if it’s for you or not.

Remember health is not a one size fits all kind of deal, think about how unique we all are



Also baby steps, any step is better than NO STEP

I usually overwhelm my brain but this time I told myself I\’m doing it right because I didn\’t like the way I felt.  

I started time restricted feeding a few days a week but told myself a few rules  to go with it based on  my research  –>no more eating out, cook more, cut back on meat ( this includes chicken)and start probiotic supplements to reset my gut ( another article on your gut/microbiome coming up)

 In fact if I gave myself a rule no eating past 8 I actually stuck to it initially on the three days I chose because I knew the other days I could be more lenient.

 But guess what? On the days I restricted my eating I felt good in the am , I woke up earlier and In general I had more energy. 

I wasn\’t working out as much because I really wanted to just focus on lifestyle diet because that was hard enough. And slowly my mind/body changed and I didn’t get hungry before 12 ( always had coffee) and now I do time restricted feeding without even thinking about it. 

Your body is amazing! It adapts . It tells you if something is right for you and your body. 

NOW let’s get to the details….

What are the different methods of Intermittent Fasting?

As a species we are not meant to eat all day

I believe our hectic lifestyles, stress , and convenient access to food at any waking minute has led us down a path of obesity. 

Forget just consuming more calories we are eating more nutrition-deprived food than ever before

Intermittent Fasting is allowing yourself to eat in a certain window of time during the day and then not eating outside of those hours so your body can heal/detox 

Food was once scarce and as humans we evolved to function at a high level, both physically and mentally in food deprived states

The different methods are listed below

  • 12 hour feeding window ( including sleep) and 12 hour fast : For example eating from 8 am to 8pm at night and from 8pm to 8am not eating at all 
  • 8 hour feeding window and 16 hour fast ( including sleep) This is the Leangains method, Common timings to eat are  12pm-8pm or 11am-7pm–> this is what I do pretty consistently 
  • 5:2 Fast: Eat sensibly on 5 days and 2 days a week restrict calories to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men on nonconsecutive days ( To me that’s having one meal in 24 hour period 2 days out of the week)
  • Alternate day fasting: no food for 24 hours every other day or restricting calories to 500-600 every other day ( do not start off with this one)
  • Weekly or twice weekly 24 hour fast

Personally I think the easiest way to start is doing the 8-12 hour eating window period 1-2 times a week and working your way up 

Hard and fast rule NO MATTER WHAT (even if you don’t fast)–> NO MEAL should be 3-4 hours before you sleep. I KNOW! That’s hard. But the benefits of the body cleansing while you sleep is IMMENSE. 

Water, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages are allowed during the fast

 What are some tips to make fasting easier and maximize the benefits?

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water ( see my article on the importance of drinking water)
  • Start your am by drinking 8 oz glass of water 
  • Drink black coffee or tea to start off the morning 
  • If you are hungry during your fast window drink tea , my fave tea to brew is mint leaves and squeeze some lemon into it
  • Plenty of distractions and be busy on fasting days to avoid thinking about food
  • Personally when I exercise I am super hungry throughout the day so I wouldn’t exercise with fasting initially . I would focus on the lifestyle first and then incorporating exercise if you are ready for it. If anything I would start off with light exercises such as yoga/pilates
  • Make every calorie count. If the chosen plan allows some calories during fasting periods, select nutrient-dense foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Some of my favorites are beans, lentils (indian stores are great for carrying a variety of lentils that you can easily soak) eggs, ghee, fish, nuts, and avocado.
  • Increase the taste without the calories by learning how to use garlic, ginger, herbs, spices, and/or vinegar. Food needs to taste good!

I am indian and spices and herbs are our thang! We can’t cook without it 

To make things easier I typically have the same breakfast daily ( my breakfast is at 12-1pm)

I LOVE LOVE LOVE eggs (best eggs to buy are pasture raised eggs) . I make myself a 2-3 egg omelet and switch up the veggies to add variety

My usual Omelet is with chopped green onions/spinach and red pepper flakes . I have an Ezekiel toast or GG crackers and an avocado sprinkled with sea salt and lemon . 

Since I’m fasting I want equal carbs/protein/fat and this just works for me

Again you have to be mindful and see how food makes you feel

What are the proven scientific benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Most studies I’ve reviewed are done on animal models with alternate day fasting the most thoroughly studied . The results of  human studies have varying outcomes but more research is definitely needed

But to sum it up the proven scientific benefits are ASTOUNDING


How could intermittent fasting do all those things?

Dr. Mattson wrote a beautiful article in NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine) a highly renowned medical journal, that explained how all of this was possible with fasting and made numerous references to multiple studies

He is a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University and one of the world’s top experts on Intermittent Fasting

Most of the information below is extracted from his recent article 

Normally when you eat food insulin is secreted and food energy is broken down and some gets stored 

Glucose which comes from carbs is stored as glycogen in the liver however that capability is limited and then it turns glucose into fat which can be stored in the liver as well and/or all over the body

When we don\’t eat for a period of time usually at least 10-12 hours insulin is decreased and the body starts looking for stored fuel which is either glucose or fat

It’ll first turn to glucose stored as glycogen for fuel and when that is used up it\’ll turn to your fat stores

The fat is converted to fatty acids and broken down in the liver into KETONES for fuel

This is key to fasting 

I\’m sure you have all heard about keto diet and basically it\’s the same concept of using ketones as fuel for the body 

When fasting, our intrinsic defenses against oxidative and metabolic stress 

( think of it as bad stress to the body) is upregulated and the removal or repair of damaged

molecules are increased. 


It is because of the ketone bodies

They are potent signaling molecules with major effects on cell and organ function

Numerous animal studies have shown benefit of intermittent fasting on numerous chronic disorders including type II Diabetes, Obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurodegenerative brain diseases 


A lot contributes to decreased oxidative stress and hence decreased inflammation

There is more dna repair ,control of damaged proteins and increased mitochondrial health Mitochondria are the powerhouses of energy inside cells 

OKAYYYYY this is information overload but what does this all mean? 

To make it really simple Intermittent Fasting decreases inflammation and inflammation is the key to all chronic disorders PERIOD

Hence decreased inflammation equates to decreased disease 

Another interesting point is intermittent fasting and its effects on brain function

Studies in animals show that intermittent fasting enhances cognition in multiple domains, including spatial memory, associative memory, and working memory

I always used to feel tired a lot and I thought that was just mmmm aging I guess

But when I started Intermittent Fasting my brain felt different . 

I felt more alert/focused esp in the morning.

I didn\’t have that “i cant get up out of bed feeling” 

Am I smarter because of it? I can\’t prove that but I feel I can accomplish more with more energy and for me this lifestyle is worth it. 

How does Intermittent Fasting cleanse the body?

Through Autophagy

“Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat. So the literal meaning of autophagy is “self-eating”

Autophagy is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells

Out with the old and in with the new is how I think of it

It is recycling and cleaning at the same time, just like hitting a reset button to your body

A natural detox method for the body? YES!

Intermittent Fasting promotes autophagy because think about it …you are giving your body a break when you aren’t eating and your cells can focus on other physiological pathways 

Promoting autophagy means promoting a regenerative and healing process.  Who doesn\’t want that?

What is my experience with Intermittent Fasting?

At the same time I started Intermittent Fasting, eating in a 8 hour window on most days, I also started a plant based diet and gave up a lot of processed foods so I attribute my weight loss and feeling healthier to a healthier lifestyle in general

I have WAY more energy 

I’ve lost 10 lbs and kept it off.

My weight doesn\’t fluctuate as much even though I have some off days 

My mind feels clear and not foggy all throughout the day

I no longer have abdominal bloating 

I’ve lost abdominal fat and arm flab the most 

And I don’t feel hungry or feel like I’m on a dreadful diet


What are the safety and side effects?

People have practiced fasting for thousands of years, but its safety depends more on who is doing the fasting than the style of fasting itself.

People who are diagnosed with any medical condition should seek the counsel of their healthcare provider first 

Some of the side effects than be experienced initially are 

  1. Weakness
  2. Hunger
  3. Fatigue
  4. Slow reactions
  5. Irritability
  6. Dehydration

Who should not do Intermittent Fasting ?

  • Diabetic patients
  • Anyone with a current or past eating disorder or considered underweight BMI <18.5
  • History of Low blood pressure
  • Pregnant/Breastfeeding women
  • Children ( 18 and under)
  • People at risk for hypoglycemia (low sugar)
  • People with certain chronic diseases ( please consult with you primary care physician or specialist)
  • Women trying to get pregnant ( there are limited studies on this however it is clear that it can impact fertility in women) 
  • Women with current or past amenorrhea ( no menstrual cycles)

The bottom line is that evidence points to numerous health benefits from Intermittent Fasting including a major one which is weight loss.

It isn’t clear which fasting is the best but listen to you body and see if this works for you ( if you have no other health conditions)

It requires some discipline initially but you know what ? That’s a good thing

We all know discipline eventually leads to results and at the end you will be proud of your health!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top