From social media, mainstream media, our friends, co-workers, and even strangers at Wal-Mart… We hear it everywhere! What is it? Intermittent Fasting.
Are you someone who looks for any (I mean any) new way to help you “stick to” and “commit” to a diet? Are you someone who looks for the “magic” diet plan that’s going to help you lose weight and keep it off? Well hey, nice to meet you, you aren’t alone.
According to the Boston Medical Center, nearly 45 million Americans go on a diet each year¹. Yikes.
But Intermittent Fasting (IF) isn’t a “diet,” it’s a “way of eating.” What I mean by this is this:
- Intermittent Fasting involves restricting caloric intake for an extended amount of time (Sometimes daily, sometimes only a few days per week)
- During the non-fasting period, eating habits are expected to stay about the same
- This means… Instead of restricting calories per se, you’re restricting the time frame in which you consume those calories, inherently making you eat less (in theory, at least)
But does this really work? Well… maybe.
Fasting has been shown to provide health benefits such as improving biomarkers of disease, reducing oxidative stress, and preserving learning and memory functioning². Unfortunately, not a whole lot of research has been done on the effects of fasting on humans. But the research that has been done basically concludes that IF is not much better for weight loss than the standard reduced-calorie diet.
Let’s weigh the pros and cons.
- Recent research has found numerous health benefits to Intermittent Fasting
- You wouldn’t have to feel deprived during the non-fasting period because you essentially eat the same as before (Although… healthy choices are wise choices)
- There are variations to the diet (Alternate-Day Fasting, 5:2 Fasting). This means you could switch it up every once in a while and not feel that it is totally monotonous
- IF could have a positive impact on diabetic individuals by improving insulin resistance³ (One of the best pros in my o-pinion)
- IF could very well lead to unhealthy eating behaviors – especially to those who are sensitive to disordered eating/eating disorder behavior
- There is no clear-cut evidence that this way of eating is better for weight loss than any standard reduced-calorie diet
- Long-term success is a major concern. Could you follow this “way of eating,” lose weight, and keep it off? Or will this be another failed attempt at weight loss and the cycle will continue?
- Going an extended amount of time without eating could leave you feeling tired, hungry, and moody (Let’s be honest, I’m a completely different person once I get some food in my belly)
- Not everyone can benefit from IF (As with most diets or diet plans / If you have a health condition, always consult with your doctor before beginning a major dietary change)
Personally, I think Intermittent Fasting is great if it works for you. I tend to do it naturally as I usually don’t eat breakfast until 10 or 11 AM and then lunch at 2 or 3 PM, not the traditional approach to eating schedules. But who’s to say what time we should or should not eat? That’s my biggest thought. If you’re hungry – eat. If you’re not hungry – don’t eat. Simple as that. HOWEVER, there are obviously exceptions to that rule, as there are every rule. I think the important thing to remember, whether your goal is to slim down or bulk up or just be healthy, is to *listen* to your body as intently and closely as you can. If you try IF and find that it helps you reach your goals then that’s awesome! You do you girl (or boy). Although, the best “diet” is the one you can stick to for the rest of your life. Spoiler alert: the answer is not really a “diet” at all.
There is not enough sufficient evidence (yet) to support or discredit the many claims supporters of Intermittent Fasting make regarding health and weight loss. Intermittent Fasting may or may not be for you. No diet… I mean, way of eating… is right for every single person. We are all composed of different DNA, different genetic components, different preferences, let’s embrace that! There is no *magic* diet or weight loss plan that will cure our low body image or make us happy. If you’ve tried IF and thought it worked for you – great! If you’ve tried IF and hated it – also great! The important thing to remember is that you know your body better than anyone else does so if a certain way of eating works for you so that you feel healthy and happy then continue to do that and don’t let anyone in line at Wal-Mart tell you differently.
Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? Let me know your thoughts on this (not so new) trend!
¹Weight Management. Boston Medical Center. Retrieved from https://www.bmc.org/nutrition-and-weight-management/weight-management
²Collier, R. (2013). Intermittent fasting: The science of going without.Canadian Medical Association.Journal, 185(9), E363-4. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1413335192?accountid=7027
³The buzz on intermittent fasting. (2017). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 35(9), 4-5. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1967766030?accountid=7027
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and anything I say is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Seek advice from your physician about any medical conditions, diagnoses, or treatment.