It seems these days everyone knows at least one person who is trying intermittent fasting in an attempt to lose weight. There are many claims surrounding intermittent fasting such as weight loss, increasing insulin sensitivity, decreasing the effects of aging and so on. Many people are wondering what it is and if it’s right for them. Is this diet here to stay, or is fasting another fad?
WHAT IS IT?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves normal periods of eating and periods of not eating (fasting). There are many different methods that people use including; Eat Stop Eat, The 5:2 Method, Time Restricted Fasting etc. Most of these methods do not focus on what the person eats, but focuses on when they eat.
- Eat Stop Eat- This involves not eating anything during 2 non-consecutive days of the week.
- 5:2 Method- This involves only eating 500-600 calories 2 times during the week, on non-consecutive
- Time Restricted Fasting- This involves limiting the intake of food to certain hours of the day, such as fasting for 14 hours, and eating the other
IS IT EFFECTIVE?
Intermittent fasting may help people to lose weight by creating an overall calorie deficit. The Eat Stop Eat Method and 5:2 Method decrease the average amount of calories being consumed.
The Time Restricted Fasting Method may also decrease this amount. According to this study
(h ttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00873.x ), intermittent fasting can be effective in weight loss, however it is not shown to be more beneficial than typical dieting efforts in achieving weight loss over time. However, there is research
(h ttps://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-nutr-071816-064634 ) that suggests that fasting appears to have positive impacts on the gut, which may affect the way we absorb, use, and store calories.
IS IT SAFE?
Intermittent fasting is not appropriate for all people. This includes people that are nursing, pregnant, diabetics, those with difficulty controlling blood sugars, those on certain medications, people with eating disorders, or a history of disordered eating. It is important to be aware of how you feel while dieting. In some instances Intermittent Fasting may create binging habits due to people being so hungry from fasting. Intermittent Fasting can be difficult and may not be a long term lifestyle change that many are able to adapt to. Talk to your doctor first to see if intermittent fasting poses any health risks for you.
Currently, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics does not recommend intermittent fasting due to the limited amount of research on general safety and the long term effects on the body. If you decide to use intermittent fasting as a way to structure your eating habits, make sure that you are not putting yourself at risk of having nutrient deficiencies. The American Heart Association recommends people consume 4-5 servings of fruit, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 6-8 servings of grains, 2-3 servings of dairy, 3-6 ounces of lean meats, and 2-3 servings of fats and oils every day. If you are interested in weight loss or other nutrition topics, consult with a Registered Dietitian so they are able to create a personalized experience for you. If you are looking for basic nutrition tips consider:
- Making half your plate fruits and vegetables.
- Making half your grains, whole grains.
- Moving to low-fat and fat-free milk or yogurt.
- Varying your protein routine.
- Drinking and eating less sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars.