Is intermittent fasting right for you?

Internet docs and nutritional gurus promoting intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight and get healthy. The recommendations are often for intermittent fasting, for example, a 24-hour fast every week, or sometimes for longer fasts, like a week-long water fast. There are some real, science-based benefits to fasting.[ref] But is it right for you? Your genes may hold the answers.

Hunger and Mood

Everyone gets hungry at first when they fast, but most people lose the intense desire to eat after fasting for a while. However, some people have more hunger and a poorer mood (hangry!) when fasting, because a specific genetic variant is to blame. A study looked at a group of 108 patients undergoing a modified medical fasting treatment for 8 days. The participants had a total energy intake of fewer than 350 calories/day.  When looking at the daily recordings of both hunger and mood, researchers found that a genetic variant in the GNB3 gene was associated with a greater hunger and worse mood when fasting.  This same GNB3 variant also links to an associated increased risk of being obese. Often, you will see it referred to as a metabolically 'thrifty genotype. The fasting diet did work for weight loss regardless of the genotype, but those with the genetic variant had 'pronounced mental discomfort'.[ref]

GNB3 Genetic Variant:

Check your genetic data for rs5443 (23andMe data)
  • C/C: best mood, least hunger
  • C/T: somewhere in the middle with more hunger than C/C
  • T/T: worst mood, most hunger when fasting
Members: Your genotype for rs5443 is --.

Getting into Ketosis: Genes related to KETO

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