Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss
Throughout the years, many different methods have been used to help people induce weight loss. Some of these methods include the Keto Diet, Weight Watchers, going vegetarian, and countless more. Amidst recent research, Intermittent Fasting has been proven to not only help you lose weight but also reduce your chance of developing certain diseases. What is Intermittent Fasting, and is it a safe option for you?
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
You may be used to diets and programs telling you what to eat, but in the case of Intermittent Fasting, it relies heavily on when you eat. With this form of eating, you will only eat at certain times of the day instead of whenever you feel hungry.
Whenever you eat, you are taking in calories. Intermittent Fasting works by allowing your body to burn fat once you have used the calories from the last meal you ate.
There was once a time when weight was much easier to maintain by people in the United States. This is thought to be because of the rise in use of technology used in society. Even only 50 years ago, Americans weighed less on average as there wasn’t constant access to technology. The television didn’t play at all hours of the day, the internet did not exist, and they didn’t have access to apps such as GrubHub that delivers food to your home at the click of a button!
With constant access to TV, the internet, and food delivery apps, it’s easier than ever to stay up late and indulge in high calorie foods. These same calories can lead to substantial weight gain and potentially heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Can I Safely Intermittent Fast?
Using Intermittent Fasting can be a great way to help manage weight, prevent diseases, and manage chronic illnesses such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol, and arthritis. Although fasting has its benefits, it is not meant for everyone.
As with any diet, you should check with your healthcare provider to make sure that it is safe for you. Here is a quick list of people who should steer clear of Intermittent Fasting:
- Children and teens, any individual under 18 years old.
- Women who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding.
- Individuals with type 1 diabetes. Intermittent Fasting has shown to be helpful for those with type 2 diabetes, but type 1 requires insulin and can be detrimental to their health by experiencing unsafe levels of hypoglycemia from not eating.
- Individuals with a history of eating disorders.
As long as you are not in this category and have talked to your doctor, Intermittent Fasting can be done safely as part of your normal routine.
Keep in mind that during this type of fasting, you may experience unsavory symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and anxiety. If this happens, be sure to consult your doctor.
What Can I Eat While Intermittent Fasting?
It’s true that Intermittent Fasting can help with weight maintenance and even loss, but this does not mean that all foods are created equal. With this method of eating, you must still be mindful of your diet to ensure you are eating foods that help nourish your body. This means that during your eating windows, you are not only consuming large amounts of fried, fatty, or sugary foods just because it is within the time you can eat. Enjoy the food, but keep the really good food in moderation!
While you are in your non-eating window, you are permitted no-calorie drinks such as water, tea, black coffee, and other zero-calorie drinks. There is no true limit to what you can or can’t eat on Intermittent Fasting, but if you are looking to maintain or lose weight, sticking with more “clean” foods is the way to go.
A great example of a diet to follow is a Mediterranean Diet. This kind of diet consists largely of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, such as fish. Here are the food groups you should stick to while Intermittent Fasting:
- Fruit and vegetables
- Whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats, etc.)
- Lean proteins (poultry, fish, beans, tofu, cottage cheese, etc)
- High quality protein powder
- Healthy fats (fatty fish, olives, avocados, olive oil, etc.)
How to Intermittent Fast
You may be thinking, “How do I Intermittent Fast?” This kind of fasting does not fit into a single box and can be done differently as it all comes down to personal preference. Here are some of the top 5 popular eating patterns:
This type of eating involves fasting for at least 12 hours a day. Within this method of eating is the popular 16/8 method, where you would fast for 16 hours a day and then eat for the remaining 8. Within this timeframe, you can easily fit two or three meals if timed right.
The 5:2 Diet
Eating with the 5:2 method is a little different than most fasting methods and isn’t done every day. In this case, you would eat normally five days out of the week but then only eat between 500-600 calories for the other two days.
Eat Stop Eat
When thinking about Intermittent Fasting, this method might be what you think of. With Eat Stop Eat, you will go a whole 24 hours without eating once or twice a week.
If you are eating using Alternate-day Fasting, you will eat normally one day and then fast the next. If you are a beginner to this method, you can do a modified version where, on the fasting days, you limit yourself to 500-600 calories.
The Warrior Diet
This method was founded in 2001 by a former member of the Israeli Special Forces, Ori Hofmekler. While eating the Warrior Diet, you will go 20 hours a day without eating a large meal, but then eat whatever you’d like the last 4 hours of the day. During the 20 hours of fasting, you can eat fresh fruit and vegetables, low amounts of dairy, hard-boiled eggs, and zero-calorie drinks.
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
This eating pattern isn’t for everyone, but here are some benefits that can come along with this style of eating:
- Weight loss. Intermittent Fasting coupled with calorie restriction can help burn fat as the metabolism boosts.
- Reduction in risk of diseases. This eating pattern may reduce the risk of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart conditions, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Extended lifespan. In a study done by The National Institute of Aging, it is still unclear as to why Intermittent Fasting extends lifespans, but the long-term effects of this diet are unknown at this time.
Downfalls of Intermittent Fasting
Because this meal plan involves going long periods without eating, it can cause some unsavory side effects. Some of those may be:
- Experiencing headaches, crankiness, constipation, and overall lethargy
- Excessive weight loss in older individuals
- Over-indulging in unhealthy foods during the eating window from excessive hunger
- Issues with individuals with health concerns or those taking medication
Engaging in an Intermittent Fasting diet may help you lose weight if you engage in regular exercise and a healthy diet. It can also help reduce the risk of developing various diseases. This eating pattern can be harmful to certain individuals, so it is best to check with your provider before starting this diet.