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Intermittent Fasting – What and When to Eat, Part I

Updated: May 19, 2022

Intermittent fasting improves insulin resistance

Millions of people start diets every year with the honest intention of losing weight to improve their health and feel better about themselves. Many dietary studies and the obesity epidemic allow for two conclusions. One, all diets work; second, all diets fail. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Adkin’s Grapefruit, Mediterranean, Keto, or low calorie; all diets work in the short term, e.g., two to six months. Unfortunately, the dieter's weight loss eventually plateaus, followed by an unrelenting regain in defiance of dietary compliance. All diets were created with a myopic view, even though obesity is multifactorial.

There is no single cause of obesity. Do carbohydrates cause obesity? Yes. Will consuming excess calories cause obesity? Yes. Does insulin resistance cause obesity? Yes. Does fructose cause obesity? Yes. Do processed foods cause obesity? Yes. These questions intersect several hormonal pathways leading to weight gain, with insulin being the most significant. Low-carb diets reduce insulin. Low-calorie diets restrict all food and consequently reduce insulin. Diets that cut out processed foods, e.g., paleo, reduce insulin.

Our current model of attacking the obesity epidemic is that the answer resides with the one magical diet. And the heated debates rage on. Too much fat causes obesity, start a low-fat diet. Too many carbohydrates, start a low-carb diet. Too many processed foods, eat only organic, pastured foods. Too much dining out, start cooking more. Too much sugar, cut out all sugar. To one degree or another, they are all correct.

There is no need to choose sides in the diet debate. Obesity is a hormonal dysfunction of hunger, satiety, glucose metabolism, and fat storage. And Insulin, the fat-storage hormone, is the most significant hormonal factor in weight gain. Hence the most rational approach to weight loss is to reduce insulin levels, and the best way to do this is intermittent fasting. Knowing what and when to eat will provide you with the tools you need to take control of your health. The following are the basics of what to eat.

Halt the consumption of added sugars

Sugar stimulates insulin secretion, but it is more threatening to your health than that. Table sugar is comprised of equal parts of glucose and fructose. Fructose significantly decreases lipolysis (fat burning) and increases insulin resistance while slowing your metabolic rate. The increase in insulin

resistance leads to higher insulin levels. Sugar, especially fructose, is devoid of nutrition and a recipe for disaster. There is absolutely no reason to add sugar of any kind to a food or drink.

Unfortunately, sugar is often concealed in many products but can be found on food labels.

Read food and beverage labels

Food labels, much of the time, are intentionally deceptive. For instance, sugar is not always labeled as sugar. Different names for sugar include sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, agave nectar, molasses, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, corn/brown/date/golden/grape/malt/maple sugar, and many more. Moreover, do not be fooled by the word “natural” in the ingredients. According to the FDA, “natural” does not imply anything about food production or processing methods or about the food’s nutritional value (The U.S. food, 2016). “Natural sugar” is a marketing term that could be applied to all non-artificial sweeteners.

A common trick by the food industry is to use several names for sugar to keep it from being high on the ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in descending order according to the amount included in the food. For example, flour is usually the first ingredient listed on the bread label, because there is more flour than any other ingredient.

Do NOT snack

One of the greatest weight loss frauds of all time is that humans are grazing animals. The myth that snacking, eating multiple times per day, which is grazing, is healthy, is the antithesis of our physiology and all food traditions. Snacking is a recent activity in America starting in the late 1970s. Consequently, with the gradual increase in snacks and sugar consumption, there was a striking rise in the obesity epidemic in the mid-eighties. Snacks are a great way to continually stimulate insulin secretion, keeping levels elevated and preventing fat loss. So, what should you eat as a healthy snack? Nothing. Do you need to snack? No. Simplify your life of variables like snacking.

Coffee is a healthy drink.

Coffee? Absolutely.

We’ve been led to believe coffee, because of caffeine, is unhealthy. However, research concludes otherwise. Drinking coffee is associated with a ten to fifteen percent reduction in total mortality (Freedman et al., 2012). According to Huxley et al. (2009), every cup of coffee one drinks reduces the risk of diabetes by seven percent up to six cups per day. Coffee may also be protective

against Alzheimer’s (Eskelinen & Kivipelto, 2010) and Parkinson’s disease (Ross et al., (2000). However, though these studies are impressive, and there are more, they show a strong correlation, not causation.

What many may not know is that most coffee is highly processed. If you’re drinking coffee every day, you don’t want it to be a source of toxins. I highly recommend finding an organic brand of coffee. My personal favorite is Lifeboost Coffee, and it’s 100% pure USDA organic coffee, mycotoxin-free, GMO-free, Pesticide-free, low acid, and shade-grown.

Tea? Absolutely.

There is seemingly an infinite number of tea varieties. Tea has also been shown to be very healthy (Jing et al., 2009). Remember, do NOT add any caloric sweetener.

Other Dietary Pearls:

  • Avoiding food is the most effective way to reduce insulin levels and improve insulin sensitivity.

  • Carbohydrate restriction has the greatest effect on lowering blood glucose levels and insulin resistance.

  • Studies show that carbohydrate restriction has the biggest benefit for losing weight.

  • Replace carbohydrates with protein, vegetables, and fat.

  • Only use protein sources that are wild, pastured, and grass-fed and finished.

  • Only consume vegetables that are organic. If organic vegetables aren’t available, do not eat them.

  • Do not consume polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn oil, soy oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil.

  • Consume avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, beef tallow, lard, and butter. They are your best friends.

  • Start intermittent fasting 12 or more hours per day.

Watch for Part II of Intermittent Fasting – What and when to eat. You’ll learn the basics of when to eat, fasting myths, and the beneficial effects on our bodies.

Michael Furci is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center. To make an appointment call (440)239-3438.


Eskelinen, M. H., & Kivipelto, M. (2010). Caffeine as a protective factor in dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 20(s1), S167-S174. Received from

Freedman, N. D., Park, Y., Abnet, C. C., Hollenbeck, A. R., & Sinha, R. (2012). Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. New England Journal of Medicine, 366(20), 1891-1894. Received from

Huxley, R., Ying Lee, C. M., Barzi, F., Czernichow, S., Perkovic, V.,Grobbee, D. E., Batty, D., & Woodward, M. (2009). Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, and Tea Consumption in Relation to Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine, 169(22), 2053-2063. Received from

Jing, Y., Han, G., Hu, Y., Bi, Y., Li, L., & Zhu, D. (2009). Tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 24(5), 557-562.

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-009-0929-5.

Ross, W. G., et al. (2000). Association of coffee and caffeine with the risk of Parkinson disease. JAMA, 283(20), 2674-2679 Received from file:///C:/Users/mindb/Dropbox/Tenpenny%20IMC/Blog/joc91293.pdf

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). The FDA requests comments on use of the term "Natural" on food labeling. Received from

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