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What is Intermittent Fasting?


Are you overweight? If so, you aren’t alone. Nearly 43% of people in the United States are considered to be obese, and it has become one of the leading health problems in our society. Dr. Joseph Souto, an internal medicine physician at Crystal Run Healthcare, dives into the main causes of obesity and a few ways to manage your diet to achieve a healthy weight.


What is obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition that is defined by a body mass index exceeding 30. “Your doctor will calculate your BMI based on your height and weight, usually at your annual check-up,” said Souto. “A normal BMI is between 18.5-24.9. A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI over 30 indicates that you are obese.”


What causes obesity?

For the vast majority of people, the leading cause of obesity is caused by their diet. The foods we eat affect several hormones in our bodies, especially insulin. Souto explained, “When we eat any type of food, our body sends a signal to our pancreas to release insulin. Insulin allows our bodies to store energy in the form of fat. Conversely, when we are not eating, our bodies won’t release insulin and instead use the fat we have stored for energy.”


What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting has become very popular in the past couple of years and it is essentially a form of fasting that requires you to not eat for a certain amount of time. Intermittent fasting can be practiced daily or a couple of times per week. As you progress and your body gets more acclimated to fasting, you can decrease this eating window to 10 hours or even eight hours (which means you won’t be eating for 14-16 hours each day). It is very important to discuss this type of diet with your physician to ensure you are still obtaining the nutrients your body needs.


“There are various forms of fasting but my personal favorite, which I recommend to all my patients, is that of intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating,” said Souto. “If you are brand new to fasting, it may take you a couple of weeks for your body to adapt. For those who are new to the practice, I usually recommend not eating for 12 hours each day and only eating in a 12-hour window.”


Bottom line

Obesity is a multifactorial disease that is often reversible by making permanent lifestyle changes. The most important factors that impact weight are sugar consumption and the number of times you are eating throughout the day. Incorporating lifestyle changes taking these factors into account can improve your overall health and longevity by promoting weight loss, and in turn, minimize your risk for developing other diseases such as heart disease and cancer. A primary care physician can address a wide range of health issues to help you reach and maintain optimal health.


If you’re struggling with your weight or managing a chronic condition that impacts weight, schedule an appointment with a primary care physician at Crystal Run Healthcare today to customize a weight management plan that works for your individual needs.


Joseph Souto, MD, is a primary care physician specializing in internal medicine. He earned his medical degree at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Program in Hempstead, New York. His clinical interests include preventative and obesity medicine. Dr. Souto is seeing patients in Monroe, New York