Intermittent fasting jump starts weight loss and slows aging

November 04, 2020 by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Stuck at a certain weight and want to lose more? Or are you trying to push the envelope on longevity? Try time-restricted eating, a type of intermittent fasting.


If you’ve reached a weight plateau but need to lose more weight, restricting your eating window can help you achieve your health and weight loss goals. And here’s some great news: Even if you are at a healthy weight and follow a Nutritarian diet, the practice of time-restricted eating still offers amazing health benefits.


Why it Works

Time-restricted eating (and other types of intermittent fasting) is gaining popularity both as a weight loss aid and healthy living practice. Research shows that this practice helps to optimize the body’s self-repair mechanisms, and also reduces growth-related signals by improving insulin sensitivity and inflammation. In addition, advocates report that this strategy has helped them to lose weight with ease.


Restricting your eating window (preferably to 6-10 hours a day) means spending more time in the fasting state. Cells in the fasting state are more resistant to disease and stress, which reduces cancer risk and slows aging. Fasting and caloric restriction also increase autophagy, a process in which cells focus on repair work, recycling damaged components, and cleaning out harmful or dead cellular matter.1-6   


Related: Fasting rejuvenates the immune system

Frequency and Circadian Timing of Eating May Influence Biomarkers of Inflammation and Insulin Resistance Associated with Breast Cancer Risk
Diurnal pattern to insulin secretion and insulin action in healthy individuals.
Physiological responses to food intake throughout the day.
Will Delaying Breakfast Mitigate the Metabolic Health Benefits of Time-Restricted Eating?


Start eating early and finish eating early.

I recommend starting your eating window early. Because insulin sensitivity is highest in the morning and then decreases throughout the day, consuming most of our calories early in the day and extending the fasting period in the evening is beneficial for keeping blood glucose levels favorable. The research suggests delaying breakfast is less effective than eating dinner early.7-11


Effects of intermittent fasting on glucose and lipid metabolism
Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes.
Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan


Weight loss made easy

In addition, using intermittent fasting or restricting your eating time window most often results in reducing calorie intake unconsciously.12-14 This makes weight loss easier than other methods, such as counting calories or using special pre-packaged foods. 


A pilot feasibility study exploring the effects of a moderate time-restricted feeding intervention on energy intake, adiposity and metabolic physiology in free-living human subjects.
The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomized trial in young overweight women.
Intermittent energy restriction for weight loss: Spontaneous reduction of energy intake on unrestricted days.


Combine a shorter eating window with a Nutritarian diet

Combining a Nutritarian diet with time-restricted eating is where the real magic happens. A Nutritarian diet is full of nutrient-dense, whole plant foods that keep oxidative stress, inflammation and DNA damage at bay.15 This eating style is designed to prevent disease and help the body to repair and heal.  Lengthening the overnight fasting period and aligning meals with our natural circadian rhythms combined with this superior diet helps to enhance these advantages. This means you will lose weight, feel better, and improve your overall health for a happier life.


Related: What is Oxidative Stress?

Dietary regulation of Keap1/Nrf2/ARE pathway: focus on plant-derived compounds and trace minerals


Steps to practice intermittent fasting

  • Push your overnight fasting window to 12-16 hours
  • Alternating days of regular meals (3 meals/day) with calorie-restricted days (2 meals/day)
  • Try skipping dinner every so often to give your body a longer fasting window
  • Finish eating by 5 PM


Lose weight and live better

Action item: Join me for the Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Boot Camp! This online event will run from Nov. 9-13, 2020, and feature daily Zoom webinars (lectures, exercise, cooking demos, food addiction support, Q&A session) with me and my team. You’ll also get a 20-day meal plan with recipes, access to an online classroom and private Facebook support group, a month of Platinum membership to my website, and more. 

It’s going to be fun, supportive, educational, inspirational, and best of all – effective! You’ll increase your nutritional knowledge and find a comfortable plan to incorporate intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating into your life. 

Key takeaway:
Eating is one of the activities that signals to the body that it’s daytime, which is why eating too close to bedtime can disrupt circadian rhythms and diminish sleep quality.3,6,7 Eat in sync with the natural circadian rhythm of insulin sensitivity: get most of your calories earlier in the day, preferably before 5 pm. Choose an appropriate eating window to stop eating earlier in the evening and lengthen your overnight fast.


Joel Fuhrman, M.D. is a board-certified family physician, seven-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term “Nutritarian” to describe his longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.
For over 30 years, Dr. Fuhrman has shown that it is possible to achieve sustainable weight loss and reverse heart disease, diabetes and many other illnesses using smart nutrition. In his medical practice, and through his books and PBS television specials, he continues to bring this life-saving message to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.


Comments (0):



10/19/2021 03:11 PM

Old article but "new" question. I am reading your book on fasting and am a type 2 diabetic, and nutritarian. I can lose 10 lbs and get to 145ish (I am 155 now and 5'8". I see a great dr who loves I follow the nutrtarian lifestyle.

I want to attempt a 3 day fast beginning Friday morning and ending it Sunday evening.Any rules I should follow? I am currently in contact with my personal dr to inform him of my intentions.I intend to take Friday off and rest thru Sunday evening withour stress, etc. How do I reintroduce feeding Sunday evening? I rerad in your book that fruit my be good...but would tempeh be better (small portion?).  Thank you!  Mark