Skip to content

An introduction to intermittent fasting

By Lisa Nicklanovich; courtesy photo

Photo of Stephanie Tanner at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Stephanie Tanner at MD Anderson Cancer Center after a successful round of appointments. Tanner has seen great success with intermittent fasting, and her doctors agree.

The Village at Castle Pines resident Stephanie Tanner called intermittent fasting (IF), “life-changing.” “I have lost more than 35 pounds since I started IF a few years back, and I am in the best shape of my life. I am a breast cancer patient and my doctor was impressed with my weight loss and is a big fan of IF herself.”

Intermittent fasting (IF) is currently one of the world’s most popular health and fitness trends. Yet it is one of the most ancient healing traditions in human history and has been practiced by virtually every culture and religion on earth.

IF is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. The focus is more on when you eat instead of what you eat. Fera Butts, a functional medicine practitioner at Besana Health and Wellness in Sky Ridge Medical Center explained the most popular variations of IF, how it works and why it’s so popular.

Butts said many people find the easiest type of IF to try is time-restricted eating. One example is the 16/8 method where you eat during an 8-hour period such as 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., then you fast for the 16 hours in between. More advanced fasts are only eating 500-600 calories one or two days per week, called the 5:2 method, or 24-hour fasts one or two days a week, called the Eat-Stop-Eat method.

Butts said that the two lower-calorie days in the 5:2 method and the fasting days in the Eat-Stop-Eat method should not be back-to-back and that staying hydrated is important.

The one meal a day method is the most restrictive fast, giving only a four-hour window to eat one large, healthy meal. Butts warned this is not meant for every day as we all need consistent calories. This method is recommended for only one or two days a week at most.

Community resident Linda Hartt exclaimed, “I have been intermittent fasting since August 10th. I’m down 35 pounds and I’m feeling like I can do this for the rest of my life!” Butts explained, “IF brings a heightened awareness to what you’re eating and when you’re eating. Often, fewer calories are consumed and for many, it eliminates the bad habits of late-night snacking or large portions with each meal.”

Tanner said, “I do IF by limiting my eating to a 6-8 hour window every day, usually 1 p.m. for lunch to 7-8 p.m. for dinner. I don’t follow any other food restrictions, though, and enjoy both a glass of wine and some chocolate most evenings!” Stephanie and her husband, who is also a (two-time) cancer survivor, try to walk 4-5 miles a day on the trails around their home. The doctors told Stephanie, “Keep doing what you’re doing!”

In addition to weight loss, the benefits of IF can include cellular repair, improved insulin resistance (lower blood sugar), increased energy levels and enhanced mental clarity, Butts said.

With so many different options with IF, it can be confusing and challenging to know where to start, so consult with a health practitioner for answers to questions. Butts stressed that it’s essential to find the right eating pattern that works best for the individual, as each body is unique.

For more information, Butts recommended visiting



Posted in


Recent Stories