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July 2023 Newsletter

Another Look at Intermittent Fasting

Hello, this is Dr. Ellen. In this newsletter, I want to take a second look at intermittent fasting. I previously wrote about this in my March 2022 newsletter, which was a continuation of some of my thoughts on healthy weight loss.(1) There are two major categories of intermittent fasting – Fasting can be limited to pre-assigned non-consecutive days each week; the best known examples of this are alternate-day fasting (ADF) and the 5:2 diet (in which there are two fasting days each week). The other category is time-restricted eating (TRE). The period allowed for daily eating can range from 10 down to 6 hours, so that the actual daily fasting time is from 14 up to 18 hours. The most commonly studied TRE plan has an 8-hour eating window with the remaining 16 hours fasting (8/16).

Intermittent fasting has been found to help produce mild to moderate weight loss. When using pre-assigned fasting days each week as the approach, compliance with the program has been difficult for many people. This is because of the persistent hunger that develops during fasting days. Because of this, many cannot remain on this type of program for an extended period of time. This has also been the case with many who have been placed on a calorie restricted program in which there is no fasting period but there is decreased caloric intake each day; persistent hunger causes many to drop out of such programs.

In two reviews published this year, the more widely known approach, TRE 8/16, alone or in combination with calorie restriction, was found to be a more realistic strategy for weight control in overweight and obese individuals.(2,3) Of note, there may be an advantage in achieving weight loss by having the period of eating occur earlier in the day than later.(2) However, evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses suggests that weight loss when employing a TRE program may be the result of decreased energy intake resulting from the meal(s) missed during intermittent fasting. If a person makes up for the period of fasting by increasing their intake of food during the feeding window, there may not be consistent or significant weight loss.(4,5) So the jury is still out on the reliability of TRE in achieving weight loss when it is more or less arbitrarily assigned to an individual.

In my experience, many individuals who changed to a relatively or completely whole food plant-based diet with an intermittent fasting schedule have achieved and sustained weight loss. However, those to whom I recommend such a regimen are not put on it randomly. I rely on the Ellen Cutler Method (ECM) testing to determine the TRE schedule’s appropriateness for each person.

There are other benefits to intermittent fasting besides weight loss. The most important effects seem to be on the metabolic function of the body. TRE 8/16 seems to help decrease insulin resistance. Thus, it may have a positive effect on glucose metabolism.(2) Of note, as with weight loss, there may be a greater decrease of insulin resistance by having the period of eating occur earlier in the day than later.(3) In another review published this year, results indicated that those using a TRE program achieve a greater decrease in fat mass, body mass index, and diastolic blood pressure than those in the control group.(6) Other proven benefits of TRE include improvements in sleep, cardiac function, and gut health.(7) In addition, preclinical studies and clinical trials have also shown that intermittent fasting may even benefit certain cancers, neurodegenerative disorders, asthma, and multiple sclerosis.(8)

Overall health and longevity have also been associated with fasting, particularly multiday water-only fasting. Longevity expert Peter Attia had been a firm adherent and staunch supporter of periodic multiday water-only fasting. Even though he still felt there were definite benefits to such fasting, he was concerned that there may be a significant unwanted effect, namely decreased muscle mass secondary to inadequate protein intake. Starting at age 30, you can lose up to eight percent of muscle mass each decade. This is especially important in older adults and can decrease strength and functional ability as well as slow down metabolism. Because of this, he stopped doing multiday fasts.(9) Currently, he uses TRE with fasting periods to get the benefits of fasting without the possible downside of loss of lean body mass. For him, fasting periods last from 14 to 22 hours each day; however, he only does TRE 4–5 days a week.(10)

My own personal routine is a combination of both of the general approaches to intermittent fasting. I do not eat breakfast per se and in that way I use a TRE approach. I also restrict my intake of calories, especially by eliminating oils and oily plant-based foods, on two non-consecutive days each week. In that way, I am also incorporating a modified 5:2 dietary pattern to the way I eat.

Ellen Cutler Method (ECM)

As mentioned above, by using ECM energetic testing, I can determine for each individual if intermittent fasting is advantageous for them and, if so, which pattern is best. ECM energetic testing also allows me to determine the optimal dietary recommendations and other lifestyle modifications, supplementation, and to identify any obstructing sensitivities/resistances in that individual. I can then use ECM to energetically desensitize those issues to which that person is reactive. I have found this to be the best, most successful way of achieving maximal improvements in a person’s health and wellness.

By the way, if you didn’t get a chance to see my previous newsletters, you can find them on my new website, www.drellencutler.com under ‘Media’. 

Be well, be healthy, and remember…

“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.”
―  Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Ellen


  1. REALCOMMONSENSE MARCH 2022 “A Weighty Subject – Part 2” at https://drellencutler.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/March-2022-Newsletter.pdf
  2. “Is time-restricted eating (8/16) beneficial for body weight and metabolism of obese and overweight adults? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/fsn3.3194
  3. “The Effect of Early Time-Restricted Eating vs Later Time-Restricted Eating on Weight Loss and Metabolic Health” at https://academic.oup.com/jcem/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1210/clinem/dgad036/7005458
  4. “Do intermittent diets provide physiological benefits over continuous diets for weight loss? A systematic review of clinical trials” at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0303720715300800
  5. “Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting and Time-Restricted Feeding Compared to Continuous Energy Restriction for Weight Loss” at https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/10/2442
  6. Health effects of the time-restricted eating in adults with obesity: A systematic review and meta-analysis” at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2023.1079250/full
  7. “Time-restricted eating may have anti-aging, anticancer effects” at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/time-restricted-eating-may-have-anti-aging-anti-cancer-effects
  8. “Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease” at https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmra1905136
  9. “Why Longevity Doctor Peter Attia Has Changed His Mind About Fasting” at https://honehealth.com/edge/nutrition/peter-attia-fasting/
  10. “Intermittent Fasting with Dr. Peter Attia” at https://healthnews.com/nutrition/weight-management/intermittent-fasting-with-dr-peter-attia/

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease.

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