So Is Intermittent Fasting As Good As It Sounds
I was very curious about this, so I asked the opinion of metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Here is what she told me. “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective,” she confirmed, though generally she recommends that people “use an eating approach that works for them and is sustainable to them.”
So, heres the deal. There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that circadian rhythm fasting, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes.
Intermittent Fasting: What Is It And Is It Safe
Intermittent fasting may seem like a recent trend, but actually, humans have periodically refrained from eating for millennia for a host of reasons: Believe it or not, physicians of yesteryear used to prescribe fasting to treat a host of ailments, while ancient philosophers pushed their plates away in attempts to boost their mental clarity. Fasting has also been a form of political protestthink: the hunger strikes of Mahatma Gandhi, Irish Republican prisoners in the 1980s, or British and American suffragettes in the early 1900s.
To this day, avoiding food is a regular part of many religions. Traditionally, Muslims forgo food and beverage during daylight throughout Ramadan Jews skip eating and drinking on Yom Kippur and Hindus and Buddhists fast weekly.
Now fasting is trickling into the secular spotlight due to media coverage that claims intermittent fasting not only leads to weight loss and boosts metabolism but that it may also curtail cancer risk and even extend lifespan.
But is intermittent fasting, a practice thats both ancient and newly trendy, as effective as some attest? Below, we take a closer look.
What is intermittent fasting? The ultimate guide
The theory is that this process may strengthen some cells ability to withstand additional stressors, which explains the potential link between IF and delayed aging as well as a reduced risk of cancer risk. But the benefits have yet to be proven.
Different types of intermittent fasting
It May Lead To Improvement In Many Health Conditions
A 2020 study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine analyzed decades of previous research and found that intermittent fasting can lead to improvements in health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers and neurological disordersResearch on intermittent fasting shows health benefits. National Institutes of Health. Accessed 6/21/2021. .
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What Laura Martin Md Says
Most of the intermittent fasting diets recommend cutting back to 500-600 calories on fasting days. In general, for many people this would be medically safer and easier than not eating at all on those days.
Remember to drink enough on fasting days to prevent dehydration. And youll need to eat a healthy diet on days that you dont fast.
Options For Intermittent Fasting
There are several different intermittent fasting methods discussed online. Here are a few of the most popular ones.
- Crescendo MethodThe Crescendo Method is one of the best ways to ease into intermittent fasting without shocking your body or aggravating your hormones. It doesnt require you to fast every day, only a few days per week, spaced throughout the week. For example, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.Fasting Window: 12-16 hours
- Have a previous history of eating disorders
- Have difficulty sleeping
Additionally, intermittent fasting is meant to complement a healthy diet and lifestyle not act as a way to remedy five days of eating nutritionally-bankrupt foods, such as refined sugar, processed foods and fast foods.
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Lose Weight With Less Effort
Dieting can be daunting. The idea of cutting out your favorite foods isn’t likely to put a smile on your face. That’s why there is one particular weight loss method that is catching more and more attention nowadays: intermittent fasting. Unlike most diets out there, intermittent fasting does not require you to eliminate any foods from your life. It doesn’t dictate what you eat, rather when to eat.
In this respect, intermittent fasting is not so much a diet in the conventional sense, but more aptly described as an eating pattern. Fasting is not unnatural, either. Hunters and gatherers didn’t have the luxury of grocery stores or refrigerators, for example, so they would often go long periods without eating any food. As a result, humans evolved to be able to withstand and function without food for extended periods of time. That is why your body is more than capable of coping with intermittent fasting.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe
Some people try intermitting fasting for weight management, and others use the method to address chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol or arthritis. But intermittent fasting isnt for everyone.
Williams stresses that before you try intermittent fasting , you should check in with your primary care practitioner first. Some people should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.
But, Williams says, people not in these categories who can do intermittent fasting safely can continue the regimen indefinitely. It can be a lifestyle change, she says, and one with benefits.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting.
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How To Get Started
You can start out slowly. Maybe start out eating 11 hours per day and fasting for 13. Slowly reduce your eating time by an hour each week.
Or you can just go all in. This is what I did. The first few days I was hungry in the morning, but my body slowly adjusted.
If youre doing the 21 Day Fix, make sure you still get all of your containers in. If you find you cant quite fit them all, make sure to focus on veggies, protein, and fat.
Intermittent Fasting With No Calorie Restriction
Being easy to follow, this is the most popular form of intermittent fasting. The basic principle you fast on one day and feast on the next. On the days of fasting, food intake is minimal, focussed mainly towards liquids while on the feast days, there’s no calorie restriction. Research is going on about the health impact of this kind of fasting.
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Frequently Asked Questions Concerns And Complaints
Im a woman. Should I do anything differently?
I havent worked with women on implementing an intermittent fasting schedule, so I cant speak from experience on this one.
That said, I have heard that women may find a wider window of eating to be more favorable when doing daily intermittent fasting. While men will typically fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours, women may find better results by eating for 10 hours and fasting for 14 hours. The best advice I can give anyone, not just women, is to experiment and see what works best for you. Your body will give you signals. Follow what your body responds favorably to.
Also, if youre a female, there is an allfemale page on Facebook that discusses intermittent fasting. Im sure you could find a ton of great answers and support there.
I could never skip breakfast. How do you do it?
I dont. Breakfast foods are my favorite, so I just eat them at 1pm each day.
Also, if you eat a big dinner the night before, I think youll be surprised by how much energy you have in the morning. Most of the worries or concerns that people have about intermittent fasting are due to the fact that they have had it pounded into them by companies that they need to eat breakfast or they need to eat every three hours and so on. The science doesnt support it and neither do my personal experiences.
I thought you were supposed to eat every 3 hours?
Here’s why this was a popular idea for a brief period of time:
Here’s the problem:
Should You Use Intermittent Fasting As Part Of Your Keto Diet
Its important to remember that, while fasting isnt required to lose weight on a ketogenic diet, it can increase your weight loss, energy levels and focus on the keto diet.
People often worry that I/F will make them feel weak, lethargic and hangry, when actually the opposite is true. From a biological standpoint, it makes sense that when youre short on food, you need to be running at your best in order to increase your chances of finding something to eat to survive and here Ill explain why.
But before you start let me tell you something. DO NOT START I/F UNTIL YOU ARE WELL INTO KETOSIS.
Listen, it’s hard enough giving up carbs. Don’t make life doubly difficult for yourself but also trying to cut calories at the same time.
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How Intermittent Fasting Works
Intermittent fasting simply means you go a period of time without eating, usually between 12 to 48 hours. This length of time is known as your fasting window, during which time you only consume liquids, such as water, herbal tea, or broth.
Some experts recommend drinking low-calorie green vegetable juices and taking supplements while fasting to help keep vitamin and mineral intake consistent, while others believe only water should be consumed. Like many topics in the health realm, the rules around intermittent fasting are subjective, depending on who you ask.
If you fast for less than 24 hours, youll also have an eating window. This is the time allotted for meals before you begin your fast. For most people practicing intermittent fasting, their eating window is between six to 12 hours. The most common fasting times are 12,14,16, and 18 hours.
For example, if you were to do a 12-hour fast, your eating window would be 12 hours. You could start your eating window at 7am and end at 7pm. You would break the fast the next day at 7am.
Although some of the intermittent fasting methods online seem more intense than others , the beauty of intermittent fasting is that you get to choose and experiment with how long you fast. This not only allows you to determine how intermittent fasting can fit in within your lifestyle, but to discover the fasting sweet spot that helps you feel best physically.
Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You
Intermittent fasting isnt for everyone. However, if you do decide to try it, Dr. Viana notes that consistency is key. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to help change lifestyle, but before doing it, one should consider if they will be able to maintain it in the long run, he says.
His overall view on eating is that it needs to be something natural and uncomplicatednoting that intermittent fasting can be too restrictive for many people. I like the philosophy of mindful eating very much, which is essentially to get rid of the diet mentality. In my opinion, we tend to overcomplicate eating and that leads to failure.
Also, keep in mind that what you eat should be your first priority over when you eat. What is most important is to eat a healthy diet that contains little or no processed food and is rich in lean protein, whole grains and vegetables , says Dr. Viana.
If you do decide to incorporate intermittent fasting into your dietary plan, consult with your physician firstespecially if you have any preexisting health conditions or are on certain medications.
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What You Can Eat And What You Can’t
You can eat mostly what you want on days when you dont fast. But to lose weight and get the nutrients you need, you should stick to healthy foods and limit treats like dessert and processed foods.
On fasting days, youll eat very little food or none at all.
For example, the Every Other Day Diet says to eat no more than 500 calories during each fast day.
Another program called the 5:2 Fast Diet involves eating 5 days a week and fasting for the other 2 days, when women can get no more than 500 calories and men no more than 600. Thats a quarter of the amount you likely eat on the days when you dont fast. Whether you eat those calories in one sitting or spread them across micro-meals throughout the day is up to you.
How To Combine Intermittent Fasting And The 21 Day Fix
Like any program that is created, the 21 Day Fix is generalized to work for most people. However, none of us are exactly alike, and there are unique situations where some people have initial success but then their weight loss stalls. I previously wrote about tweaks you can make if youre not seeing progress, but today I have another idea to add to that list.
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Is This Based On Low
Fasting is fasting, how you eat the rest of the time is up to you. If you can make it work, go for it.
People tend to get the best results sticking to real foods but its nothing that cant be changed or remain flexible.
Remember, it is still about making IF work for you as a tool in your lifestyle.and there may be more than one way that can happen.
What Is Intermittent Fasting And Why Would You Do It
Intermittent fasting is not a diet, it’s a pattern of eating. It’s a way of scheduling your meals so that you get the most out of them. Intermittent fasting doesnt change what you eat, it changes when you eat.
Why is it worthwhile to change when youre eating?
Well, most notably, its a great way to get lean without going on a crazy diet or cutting your calories down to nothing. In fact, most of the time you’ll try to keep your calories the same when you start intermittent fasting. Additionally, intermittent fasting is a good way to keep muscle mass on while getting lean.
With all that said, the main reason people try intermittent fasting is to lose fat. We’ll talk about how intermittent fasting leads to fat loss in a moment.
Perhaps most importantly, intermittent fasting is one of the simplest strategies we have for taking bad weight off while keeping good weight on because it requires very little behavior change. This is a very good thing because it means intermittent fasting falls into the category of simple enough that you’ll actually do it, but meaningful enough that it will actually make a difference.
How It Works
The most common methods are fasting on alternate days, for whole days with a specific frequency per week, or during a set time frame.
- Alternate-day fastingAlternating between days of no food restriction with days that consist of one meal that provides about 25% of daily calorie needs. Example: Mon-Wed-Fri consists of fasting, while alternate days have no food restrictions.
- Whole-day fasting1-2 days per week of complete fasting or up to 25% of daily calorie needs, with no food restriction on the other days. Example: The 5:2 diet approach advocates no food restriction five days of the week, cycled with a 400-500 calorie diet the other two days of the week.
- Time-restricted feedingFollowing a meal plan each day with a designated time frame for fasting. Example: Meals are eaten from 8am-3pm, with fasting during the remaining hours of the day.
How To Do It
The easiest way to follow the 16:8 diet is to choose a 16-hour fasting window that includes the time that a person spends sleeping.
Some experts advise finishing food consumption in the early evening, as metabolism slows down after this time. However, this is not feasible for everyone.
Some people may not be able to consume their evening meal until 7 p.m. or later. Even so, it is best to avoid food for 23 hours before bed.
People may choose one of the following 8-hour eating windows:
- 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- noon to 8 p.m.
Within this timeframe, people can eat their meals and snacks at convenient times. Eating regularly is important to prevent blood sugar peaks and dips and to avoid excessive hunger.
Some people may need to experiment to find the best eating window and mealtimes for their lifestyle.
Common Obstacles To Eating A Healthier Diet
Varady dabbles with intermittent fasting herself, typically for a few weeks after the holidays to lose a few pounds. The 16:8 plan is less intense than the other plans, but if she wants a more rapid weight loss, shell opt for alternate day fasting.
The first five fast days are pretty tricky, but once your body gets adjusted to that kind of up-down pattern of eating, it actually gets really easy, Varady told TODAY.
So how do you boost your chances of intermittent fasting success?
Tips And Tricks About Fasting
#1) Dont freak out! Stop wondering: can I fast 15 hours instead of 16? or what if I eat an apple during my fasted period, will that ruin everything? Relax. Your body is a complex piece of machinery and learns to adapt. Everything is not as cut and dry as you think.
If you want to eat breakfast one day but not another, thats okay. If you are going for optimal aesthetic or athletic performance, I can see the need to be more rigid in your discipline, but otherwisefreaking chill out and dont stress over minutiae!
Dont let perfect be the enemy of good when it comes to your intermittent fasting plan.
#2) Consider fasted walks in the morning. I found these to be very helpful in reducing body fat, and also gave my day a great start to clear my mind and prepare for the day.
Simply wake up and go for a mile walk. Maybe you could even start walking to Mordor?
#3) Listen to your body during your strength training workouts. If you get light headed, make sure you are consuming enough water.
If you notice a significant drop in performance, make sure you are eating enough calories during your feasting window.
And if you feel severely off, pause your workout. Give yourself permission to EASE into intermittent fasting and fasted workouts. This is especially true if you are an endurance athlete.
#4) Expect funny looks if you spend a lot of mornings with breakfast eaters.
#7) Track your results, listen to your body:
This is just one tool that can contribute to your success.
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