Fasting has long been a normal event for humans, due either to religious reasons or lack of food. Today, people fast for health reasons using a form of fasting called intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is becoming increasingly due to its anti-aging and health benefits.
Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, integrates fasting into your everyday life. People do intermittent fasting for different reasons.
Some people use it to lose weight or maintain weight loss. Others use it to manage inflammation, improve brain function, and promote insulin sensitivity. For others still, their primary motivation is to work toward the goal of increased longevity.
Intermittent fasting may also help you manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid. However, this depends on whether your blood sugar is stable and your adrenal function is decent. If you are prone to low blood sugar and low blood sugar crashes and fatigue, the long gaps without eating required with intermittent fasting may trigger your low blood sugar episodes and worsen adrenal fatigue. This triggers inflammation and may actually flare your autoimmune thyroid condition.
Additionally, if you have the opposite problem with blood sugar that is too high and you are prone to binging after fasting, you may worsen your insulin resistance by overeating. This too is inflammatory.
However, if your blood sugar and adrenal function are stable, intermittent fasting may help you manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Different ways to do intermittent fasting
You can go about intermittent fasting several different ways:
- The 5:2 diet: This plan has you eat normally five days a week and fast completely the other two days. You can also severely restrict calories (500-600 calories) on those two days.
- Alternate day fasting: This plan has you alternate eating normally for 24 hours with zero or very low calories (500-600) for the next 24 hours. You begin each 24-hour period at dinnertime and miss one or two meals, but not all three.
- The 16:8 or 14:10: This version is also known as the “eating window plan” and is easiest for beginners. You eat during an 8- or 10-hour window and fast the remaining 16 t0 14 hours of each 24-hour period. For example, you stop eating at 7 p.m and do not eat again until 14 hours later at 9 a.m. the next morning. You may find you need to start by fasting 12 or fewer hours and work your way up as you become more comfortable.
Intermittent fasting to lose weight
Intermittent fasting help with weight loss ways beyond fewer calories. Research shows people who do intermittent fasting have better insulin sensitivity and blood sugar regulation. This in turn makes a person crave less sugar and use blood sugar for energy instead of fat storage.
As weight gain is a well known symptom of Hashimoto’s low thyroid, intermittent fasting in a stable metabolic state may help you lose weight.
Intermittent fasting to improve brain function
Studies show intermittent fasting can improve brain function and even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and depression. This is most likely because of the effects it has on blood sugar and insulin regulation (Alzheimer’s disease is often called type 3 diabetes), and that it helps produce ketone bodies for fuel. Ketones provide clean-burning fuel for the brain that leave behind fewer inflammatory free radicals than glucose does. Ketogenic diets that rely more on fat than sugar for fuel have long been used to help prevent seizures.
The effects of unmanaged Hashimoto’s low thyroid on the brain have been well researched and documented in studies. Those with an autoimmune thyroid disorder should strive to protect brain health. If blood sugar and adrenal function are stable, intermittent fasting may help improve brain function.
Other benefits of intermittent fasting
Studies show intermittent fasting also reduces blood pressure, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and insulin-like growth factor, a hormone linked to cancer and diabetes. Although there is still much to learn about intermittent fasting, it is thankfully an area of significant research due to its promises.
When intermittent fasting is not for you
Interimttent fasting is not for everyone. Children, teens, pregnant women, people with eating disorders, and those with hypoglycemia or adrenal fatigue should not fast. If you are diabetic and taking insulin, you should only fast under the supervision of a doctor. If you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid and dysregulated blood sugar, you may need to stabilize it before trying intermittent fasting.
Many people’s experience shows women, who have more complex hormonal systems, fare better with less stringent forms of intermittent fasting. For example, a woman may have more success starting intermittent fasting with a 12:12 (fasting 12 hours each day) eating window plan and lengthen the number of hours fasting as she’s able.
There is no one-size-fits-all diet for every person.
Contact my office to discuss if intermittent fasting might work for you if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.