Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work?

Looking Into The Latest Weight Loss Approach

On episode #87 of THE TONIC, Dr. Emily Lipinski ND and Tonic Publisher, Jamie Bussin,  discuss a new approach to losing weight, intermittent fasting. This is a digest of their interview (which can be accessed as a podcast at


Q. What is intermittent fasting?

A. It’s a form of controlled fasting -not eating for a period of time each day. There are a lot of people who think that intermittent fasting isn’t dieting, because there isn’t a change in what you’re eating. It’s a lifestyle choice. Historically, because of lack of access to food, humans would eat more with the seasons. Humans are designed to function with periods where we’re not consuming calories.


Q. But, doesn’t fasting train the body to consume calories slower?

A. You’re thinking more of starvation; a longer period with many fewer calories. The old theory was when we did that, days without eating, that would do something called turning on the “thrifty gene”, which causes the body to retain calories. This is different, where it’s much more controlled. 


Q. How does it work?

A. There are a few ways. The “16/8” is the most popular. That’s when there are 8 hours a day where you consume calories and 16 hours where you’re not consuming any calories (overnight, after dinner and before breakfast). You can still consume water, black coffee or tea. Doing this over time actually increases the metabolism. That’s due to beneficial hormone changes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to increase insulin, which helps sugar get into the cells, which can help facilitate fat burning. It also seems to increase human growth hormone, which also increases fat burning. For some people there’s an increase in epinephrine, a neurotransmitter that sends signals to the cells to help burn fat.


Q. One drawback might be that 16/8 would hamper your sociability. 

A. I find that with my patients that is the number one complaint, not being able to go out for dinner. Especially not being able to go out later on weekends. But there is another way of intermittent fasting; it’s the “5/2 diet”. 5 days a week you eat normally, but 2 days a week you only have one meal per day of up to 600 calories.The two days don’t need to be consecutive. Research has shown that the 5/2 approach provides the same benefits as 16/8.


Q. Are you recommending intermittent fasting to your patients?

A.I have. For some patients it works beautifully, but it’s not for everyone. Starting the fasting is difficult. Also, when fasting, some people really do feel that hunger. We’re trained by society not to feel hunger often. Not being able to go out at night and drink alcohol can be a challenge. The up side is that patients can see results within the first week, but certainly within a month. If it happens quickly, average weight loss can be 2 lbs. a week. And then most people eventually plateau.


Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND addresses the root cause of a medical issue using natural therapies such as diet, lifestyle and herbs either alone or in conjunction with western medicine. Find her at 

Categories: Ask The Expert