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Should You Try Intermittent Fasting?

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Fasting Vs. Detoxing

Not sold on intermittent fasting? Consider a detox program instead.

Unlike fasting, which is about avoiding all foods for a specified period, detox diets propose a restricted menu of cleansing foods. Depending on your health status and motivations, you may find a detox program more appropriate, and perhaps more effective.

“People often feel bad when they fast,” says Mark Hyman, MD, founder of The UltraWellness Center in Massachusetts. “That’s because they are releasing metabolic wastes but not eliminating them properly.”

Some key biochemical pathways essential to detoxification are activated by specific nutrients, he explains. “If you’re fasting, you’re not getting those nutrients, and if those pathways aren’t activated, you’ll get sick. It’s like opening a water faucet of toxins but plugging up the drain. So if you’re going to fast, you have to do it in a very thoughtful way or it can be harmful.”

For this reason, Hyman finds detoxing gentler and more effective than fasting. “If you’re currently eating gluten or dairy and are sensitive or intolerant to them, you’ll find that just stopping those foods will produce dramatic improvements,” he says. “You’ll get even better results by doing a detox program designed to support and enhance detoxification.”

Integrative nutritionist Kathie Swift, MS, RD, LDN, agrees that nutrients drive detoxification. That’s why, during her workshops, Swift emphasizes a program of optimal nutrition designed to kick-start and support a detox experience in which participants are coming off sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods.

Ann Louise Gittleman’s Fast Track Detox Diet (Three Rivers Press, 2006) includes a 24-hour cranberry-based juice fast, but it also calls for seven days of preparation for the one-day fast. Healthy fasting, says Gittleman, PhD, includes preparing the liver and providing fiber for the colon. Since your liver will be working extra hard on fast day, she recommends fueling up on liver-loving foods beforehand, such as broccoli, kale, oranges and eggs. Her detailed plan, she says, helps pull toxins from the body.

The key, Gittleman says, is to plan in advance. “It’s not something you jump right into,” she says. (For more on Hyman’s and Gittleman’s detox diets, read The UltraSimple Slimdown and Fast Track Liver Detox.)

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Molly, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


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5:07PM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

I follow Buddha's recommended action - eat once in a day and do not eat solid after mid day :)

5:04AM PDT on Aug 5, 2013


6:24AM PST on Dec 10, 2012

I really enjoyed 5:2 intermittent fasting and it is definitely something I will continue in the future. When I started the fast I was 10 ½ stone and 27% body fat. I ended seven weeks later having lost 16lbs and 4% of my fat index. I only fasted two days a week, didn't train during that time and didn't watch what I ate on my 'feed' days. If anyone is interested in reading my blog of the journey it can be downloaded free from our website:

8:37AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

great info, too long and wordy. i actually couldn't get through it.

6:14AM PDT on Oct 25, 2012

Watch BBC Horizon doc Eat, Fast and Live Longer for evidence-backed opinions by scientists on different fasting regimes.

2:19PM PDT on Oct 24, 2012


3:34AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

Thanks, interesting.

2:43AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

Very intriguing, but what about plain old hunger? That happens before the 16 hour fast is over. Isn't your body telling you you're hungry indicatitive of the need to eat?

2:43AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

Fasting twice a week is ideal thanks for sharing an informative article

2:23AM PDT on Oct 24, 2012

Little and often?

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