Expert Contribution

Is Fasting Healthy for You or Another Fad Diet?

Fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine, recognized for its ability to help heal and prevent disease. When done under the proper guidance of a healthcare professional, intermittent fasting can lead to effective weight loss and long-term health benefits.

Fasting Versus Starving: A Big Difference

So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between intermittent fasting and starvation diets? Well, for starters, starving yourself is dangerous!

Starvation deprives our body of essential nutrients, so it begins eating itself by burning muscle.

Fasting differs from starvation because it can be practiced for 12 – 48 hours without the body kicking into starvation mode. Fasting flips the metabolic switch safely and effectively by using one fuel source instead of another.

Typically, our bodies are fueled by glucose, but with IF, that energy source becomes unavailable. As a result, the body begins to convert its stored fat into fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the bloodstream. Fatty acids produce molecules called ketones. After 8 – 12 hours of fasting, our metabolism shifts to replace glucose with ketones as our new source of energy.

Studies show that intermittent fasting may be better for you than other dietary strategies. This is because ketones put less stress on our cells compared to the by-products of other dieting methods.

Did you know that intermittent fasting helps you to live longer?

New research from Harvard shows that intermittent fasting manipulates the mitochondrial networks inside our cells, which may increase lifespan!

That sounds great! But how does it work?

Inside our cells we have energy-producing mitochondria that dynamically change shape in relation to our body’s energy demand. Over time, their ability to produce energy gradually declines, eventually leading to age-related diseases.

A study from Harvard shows that periods of intermittent fasting can help maintain the flexibility and youthfulness of mitochondrial networks.

Fasting not only helps you live a longer life, it improves your overall health too!

Additional studies suggest that fasting can help:

  • Boost the immune system
  • Enhance physical performance
  • Protect cognitive function
  • Reduce inflammatory disorders
  • Slow the progression of tumors
  • Protect against cardiovascular disease

Steps for Effective Fasting

  1. Set a fasting schedule and stick to it. Meal skipping is an excellent way to introduce yourself to fasting. If you choose to do a 12 or 16 hour fast, arrange your fasting window during sleeping hours to help the time pass by more easily.
  2. Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water or switch it up with herbal teas.
  3. Relax your body and your mind. During fasting days, don’t participate in strenuous activities. Go easy on yourself by finding things to keep your body and mind occupied in a productive, gentle way.
  4. Make your calories count. Between fasting windows, enjoy nutrient-dense foods that provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
  5. Some women don’t do well with fasting due to blood sugar balancing issues, high stress or hormonal imbalances. Consider our Fasting With Food program to reap the benefits without the struggles.

Contact us by calling (925) 788-6300 or emailing


By Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC, IFMCP with Body Love Cafe, Northgate resident since 2019

About The Author

Functional Medicine & Nutrition
Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC, IFMCP
Body Love Cafe

Dr. Brandy Zachary, DC, IFMCP discovered the power of Functional Medicine first hand when a “mystery illness” left her declared permanently disabled. Unwilling to accept that diagnosis, she fought back and launched Body Love Cafe, an award-winning holistic health clinic.

BLC is all about natural medicine that meets cutting-edge science to provide answers as to why you don’t feel well. We hear you. We see you. We believe you. It’s not in your head and we’ve got the technique and labs to show why.

Patients have said “Dr. Zachary figures out why you feel like crap but your MD says you’re fine.” 

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