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Intermittent Fasting. Should you do it? What you need to know.
When it comes to weight loss there is no shortage of fads and diets making the rounds in articles and on television. If you have been looking for ways to shed some pounds or maintain your weight, you may have come across the idea of Intermittent Fasting. But what is Intermittent Fasting and how do you do it safely?
Intermittent Fasting is certainly not a fad.
In fact, it is also not a diet! Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle that is more about being disciplined with the timing of when you eat, rather than what you eat. This style of eating has been around for ages; intermittent fasting has ancient roots in many cultures, both with spiritual & healing indications, as well as also being practiced by hunters & gatherers. It is a wonderful tool for weight loss and prevention.
Will I starve?
Absolutely not! You are not depriving yourself of nutrition. Depending on which style of intermittent fasting is best for you, you aren’t even necessarily cutting your calories. Quite simply, the goal is to keep your meals in a certain window of time. However, this doesn’t negate the responsibility of eating healthy foods and certainly doesn’t mean binge eating during your consumption window.
Don’t skip this step!
The first step is to consult with your Registered Dietician and/or Physician to determine if Intermittent Fasting is safe for you. There are a number of health conditions and circumstances where fasting is not a great idea. A few examples where fasting can cause a bigger health problem are if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, or if you need to take medications at certain times with meals. Fasting may also be contraindicated for younger, growing children.
So how do you do Intermittent Fasting?
Once you have the green light, knowing which style of Intermittent Fasting is best for you will help you tremendously. The two most common ways are implementing the 16:8 or 5:2 methods though there are others. Here are the basics:
16:8 Method: This is the most popular and probably the easiest method. You eat within an eight hour period and don't eat again for 16 hours. For instance, you would start your first meal at 11am and stop by 7pm or start at 9am and stop at 5pm. You may be thinking “16 hours with no food! That’s torture.” Don’t fret too much about this! During the majority of this 16 hour window you should be catching some quality zzz’s. Sacking late night snacks might be an adjustment but will do wonders for your health. At night, especially when you are sleeping, your body should be resting and repairing, not using energy to digest. The biggest obstacle with implementing this method tends to be of social nature such as getting dinner with friends when that dinner reservation happens to fall outside of your 8 hour eating window. While this may be a challenge sometimes, talking with your dietician and having a plan for these situations will keep you on track.
5:2 Method: With this alternative method, the focus is reducing the amount of calories your body has to digest for 2 days a week (like a mini fast) but eating a normal calorie healthy diet for the rest of the days. Your dietician and doctor can help you figure out what is best for you but typically this is approximately 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men on fasting days. The days with the lighter calorie load should not be consecutive and should be separated by at least 1 day of a normal calorie diet.
Why Intermittent Fasting works.
When you are in a semi-fasted state your body’s sensitivity to insulin and leptin (two hormones that affect fat storage) is altered, which helps encourage fat burning. In addition, HGH (human growth hormone), another fat burning hormone, increases greatly and as a result, metabolism can get a boost. Studies are also showing a possible correlation between improved gut flora which also may improve metabolism.
According to a 2014 review, intermittent fasting can cause weight loss of 3-8% over 3-24 weeks, which is more than just regular daily calorie restriction alone, while also preserving lean muscle mass. People also report feeling more energized, efficient and focused. Intermittent fasting might just be the tool you need to lose weight or encourage weight loss if you have plateaued.
As a VIP member of HealthBridge you always have access to Josephine, our in-house Registered Dietician. If you would like more information on this type of approach or would like a personalized menu plan, feel free to call the office and set an appointment today with Josephine Tutrani MS/RD/CDE.
For more interesting reading about Intermittent Fasting, check out this article in Time.