Intermittent Fasting – What to Know

Intermittent fasting (or IF) continues to stir up conversation in our society today. As with any diet or style of eating, one needs keep in mind that not everything is black and white. There are many things that contribute to if they are eating “healthy” or not, and if it is what works best for someone.

Fasting isn’t anything new. People of faith and different religions have fasted for centuries. However, intermittent fasting (IF) took off as a weight-loss craze at the end of 2012. There are several styles of IF with different fasting periods or windows. You might wonder, which one is best? For a lot of people, which one is ‘best’ is dependent on their lifestyle and what works best for them.

Fasting works because the total amount of food consumed typically decreases throughout the course of a week. This results in negative net calorie, which should lead to weight loss for most people. People tend to enjoy this style of dieting because it doesn’t leave them feeling hungry on the days they can eat (compared to a typical restricted calorie diet). Fasting also gained popularity because it took the stress out of what they should or shouldn’t eat.

The important part to IF is to not overeat during your “eating window” or your “eating days” and recognize you cannot eat whatever you want. Intermittent Fasting typically does allow all food (“good” or “bad”). However, just because some people can lose weight eating all the junk food while fasting, doesn’t make it healthy.  It is important to recognize that people can’t escape quality food (or lack thereof) and how it is going to affect health. Getting a balanced diet of carbohydrates, fiber, fats and proteins is still important even if you are cutting out 1-2 days per week of eating. This ensures your body is still getting all the nutrition that it needs.

So what does the research show and is this for you?

Although there is evidence that shows Intermittent Fasting can lead to weight loss and improved risk factors of chronic disease, doesn’t mean it is for everyone. There are still many unknowns when it comes to IF long-term. Many individuals who have medical conditions should not fast without supervision of a doctor, especially those on medication.

Here are a couple of questions I would ask an individual who is interested in Intermittent Fasting are:

  • Have you tried it? If yes, for how long?
  • Have you tried anything else?
  • What did you eat on the days you could eat?
  • Did you like it?
  • Were you successful?

Ultimately, for some people, it works great and they love it and feel great while doing it. However, for a lot of others it leads to overeating, increased irritability and frustration. If you decide to try it (assuming no medical conditions), I would just encourage that you to still eat a well balanced diet on your eating days.

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