Updated: May 27, 2020
There seems to be a lot of unnecessary fear around Intermittent Fasting. I think it's because of the word "fasting". I remember one of the AENpeeps suggested that Intermittent Fasting should be more accurately described as Intermittent Eating. I would have to agree with this wording. Intermittent Fasting (or IF) can be an extremely useful tool in your wellness toolbox to aid in gut and cellular health. But is it something that you should be using while pregnant?
Today, I'm breaking down the deets of Intermittent Fasting and whether or not you should be implementing it while pregnant.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes and is not meant to replace medical advice. Always speak with your doctor and/or OBGYN before making changes to your diet while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Why Would You Want To Use Intermittent Fasting?
The benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF) depend on how you are using Intermittent Fasting. For example, researchers have found that IF benefits include improved insulin sensitivity, improved fasting blood glucose and increased levels of growth hormone. Intermittent Fasting also stimulates the cellular cleanup known as autophagy. This helps to boost the energy producing organelles in your cells, called mitochondria, which leads to improved cellular health and increased energy levels.
One of my favorite - and in my opinion, most under-appreciated - benefits of IF is the stimulation of the Migrating Motor Complex, or MMC. This is the gut cleaning crew. It helps to sweep out the left behind food and bacteria that would typically lead to bloating. It's the stimulation of the MMC pathway that causes the decreased bloating and improved bowel movements that are associated with Intermittent Fasting.
Is It Safe?
It's difficult to say. There aren't really any studies to rule out whether it is or isn't safe for pregnancy. Those who are against Intermittent Fasting while pregnant will often mistake Intermittent Fasting for skipping a meal. The argument is that it's important to eat enough and enough of the right types of foods in order to support the growth of the baby and that Intermittent Fasting will inherently mean calorie restriction.
As we have discussed in the past, Intermittent Fasting is NOT necessarily a form of calorie restriction. In fact, I actively advice against restricting and counting calories while using Intermittent Fasting. You can get the deets with the video below.
On the flip side, Intermittent Fasting aids in improving insulin sensitivity. This is a very major thing to consider, especially with gestational diabetes as a major concern for pregnancy. If you are unfamiliar with this term, gestational diabetes is where your body temporarily develops diabetes during pregnancy. This can greatly effect the health of the developing baby and lead to a high birth weight and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes for the baby later in life.
What Are Your Options?
Every individual is different. If using a short fasted period (12-16 hours per day) while pregnant is not advised by your doctor, nutritionist or OBGYN, then you still have options. Gestational diabetes is still a concern with many pregnancies, especially if you are over the age of 25. Therefore focusing on reducing the insulin response and balancing blood glucose levels is essential. This is where utilizing the proper Nutrient Timing from the Complete Intermittent Fasting Bundle can be beneficial - even if you AREN'T using IF.
By using the Nutrient Timing and focusing on satiety, you will naturally achieve a 3-4 hour break between your meals. This leads to a balanced blood glucose level AND the stimulation of the MMC pathway. So not only can you focus on decreasing your risk of gestational diabetes, you also get the added perks of improved GI motility and decreased bloating! Make sure to discuss with your OBGYN and nutritionist if you have any additional nutritional concerns that you need to address.