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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to help us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

Intermittent Fasting Q&A

Published in Weight Management, For the Health of It Author: Penny Leen,APRN,CNP

Now days, intermittent fasting may be one of the most discussed diet and nutrition trends. But what does it actually mean? How does it work? And who should — and shouldn’t — consider it?

Penny Leen, APRN, CNP of CentraCare Weight Management recently paused to talk about taking a pause from eating during one’s day.

Q: What is intermittent fasting?

Penny: Intermittent fasting is the voluntary avoidance of food for health, spiritual or other reasons.

Q: What are the different types of intermittent fasting?

Penny: There are two primary fasting methods: “eating window” and “alternate day.”

Eating-window fasts usually include fasting for 16-20 hours of the day and reserving the other 4-8 hours as the “window” for eating. For example, a 16:8 fast may include fasting from 7 p.m. until 11 a.m. The period between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. would contain all meals.

Alternate-day fasting usually refers to a pattern of eating that is regular for some days and only 500 calories per day on others. For example, a 5-2 fast would mean that an individual eats regularly five days a week and “fasts” by eating 500 calories/day on two days per week.

Q: Is there a best time (of day) to fast? What should I eat when I’m not fasting?

Penny: There is not a best time to fast. Maintain a regular meal pattern with no between meal eating. Choose non-calorie beverages and choose a variety of foods and food groups at your meals.

Q: Is intermittent fasting safe for me?

Penny: While intermittent fasting has many proven benefits, there is still a safety risk for some people. Discuss any plans to include intermittent fasting with your doctor.

Q: Who shouldn’t try intermittent fasting?

Penny: People who should NOT fast include those who are underweight or have eating disorders like anorexia, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and people under the age of 18.

Q: Is it OK to exercise while fasting?

Penny: Yes. You can continue all your usual activities, including exercise, while fasting.

Q: Will I feel hungry while fasting?

Penny: Some individuals experience hunger while fasting. Hunger often passes and rarely is intolerable.

Q: Who can most benefit from intermittent fasting?

Penny: Individuals who are interested in losing weight, lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and improving blood sugars may benefit from intermittent fasting.

Q: What are the other health benefits of intermittent fasting?

Penny: Purported health benefits of intermittent fasting include:

  • Weight and body fat loss
  • Increased fat burning
  • Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels
  • Reversal of type 2 diabetes
  • Improved mental clarity and concentration
  • Increased energy
  • Improved blood cholesterol profile
  • Longer life
  • Reduction of inflammation

Q: How long can I expect to wait before I experience benefits from intermittent fasting?

Penny: Benefits can be experienced within days of starting an intermittent fasting plan.

Q: Should I be worried about potential negative impacts of meal skipping on my blood sugar levels?

Penny: If you have diabetes mellitus type 1 or type 2 or if you are on any prescription medications, you should consult with your primary care provider or an obesity medicine provider before engaging in intermittent fasting.

Q: What’s the best way to manage hunger while fasting?

Penny: Here are six tips to try when starting intermittent fasting.

  1. Stay hydrated — drink water, coffee, tea and other non-calorie beverages
  2. Stay busy
  3. Ride the hunger waves — they pass
  4. Follow a lower carbohydrate meal plan between fasting periods
  5. Allow one month of practice to determine if intermittent fasting is a good fit for you
  6. Maintain a regular meal pattern between fasting periods

Q: Are there side effects associated with an intermittent fasting diet?

Penny: Yes. Side effects are rare. Here’s what you might experience:

  • Hunger
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn
  • Cramps

Learn more about the services and support offered by CentraCare Weight Management. Review patient success stories.