13 Feb The Truth About Intermittent Fasting
Open any magazine or turn on the news and you’ll likely stumble upon the latest diet. While intermittent fasting has been in the headlines for a few years now, it’s still a trend I get asked about often. Here’s a look into this “fast and feast” type of eating style and if it’s worth trying?
Intermittent Fasting 101
Intermittent fasting is an eating style where you cycle between periods of fasting and eating. There are several ways you can approach it. Here are the three most popular methods:
- The 5:2 Approach: You eat only 500 calories 1 to 2 days per week, also referred to as your “fasting” days.
- 16/8 Method: This time-restricted eating method is where you condense your eating to just 8 hours a day. Essentially, you’re fasting for 16 hours each day.
- “Eat Stop Eat”: Where you fast a full 24-hours 1 to 2 times a week.
During the fasting periods, no food is typically allowed, but you can drink non-caloric beverages, such as coffee, water and tea. However, when you’re not fasting– anything goes, although sticking to a well balanced, healthy diet would certainly be ideal.
Proponents of intermittent fasting claim that intermittent fasting can not only help you lose weight, but it can also increase energy levels and is a convenient way to eat without worrying about prepping and planning several meals. Some folks also find it easy to follow, since aside from the fasting rules, there’s no food that’s off limits.
What About the Science?
A 2011 study published in Obesity Reviews compared intermittent fasting verses daily calorie restriction, and while they were both found to be effective at weight loss and reducing fat mass, intermittent fasting preserved more lean muscle.
Another 2014 study found intermittent fasting to be just as effective as calorie restriction in reducing insulin resistance, which could help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes. Fasting may also have the ability to delay the aging process and diseases associated with it, such as Alzheimer’s, hypertension and arthritis, according to a 2014 study published in Cellular Metabolism.
Although the research may look promising, much of the research conducted using rats and mice (such as the diabetes study above), and may not be applicable on humans. As such, more research is certainly needed.
Should you try it?
In 2018, The Fast Diet (a type of intermittent fasting) rated 35 out of 39 in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings for best overall diet.
This is because you’ll most probably fall short on important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, potassium, and vitamin D. These nutrients are under consumed by most individuals who have 24/7 to eat- so it will be an even bigger challenge to get all the nutrients you need while fasting 1 to 2 days a week.
Further, with prolonged periods of fasting you may find you’re irritable, unable to concentrate, dizzy or lightheaded. These are all signs the plan is probably not right for you. It’s also pretty tough to work out or concentrate for work if you’re not feeling well.
It should also be notes that any calorie restricted diet is not appropriate for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children and type 1 diabetics. It’s also not recommended for anyone with an eating disorder. If you have a medical condition or are on medications, speak to a doctor and registered dietitian nutritionist before embarking on any new diet plan, especially intermittent fasting
Overall, your best bet is to make healthy lifestyle changes to improve your diet quality and exercise regularly, which are still the best ways to safely and effectively lose weight and prevent disease.
TELL ME: Have you tried intermittent fasting? What’s your experience?