I am not one to support fad diet plans or food trends that don’t make sense. I don’t believe in anything that’s a quick fix or is going to only provide a temporary solution.
My philosophy is always simple. Food is something that nourishes us, provides strength and can be incredibly healing when you understand how foods truly interact with your body.
My primary goal is always to educate my clients and help them make decisions that work with their particular genetic make-up, lifestyle, emotions and physical body.
So, it’s not often that I’ll explore the latest trends or make recommendations on how to implement them.
But because you can’t turn around without someone touting the benefits of intermittent fasting or a new client walking into my office asking them if it can help them, I decided to dive in and set the record straight an answer some of your questions.
- Does it work?
- Do I have to fast for days at a time?
- Can I really lose weight with intermittent fasting?
- Does it help you live longer?
- Does intermittent fasting reduce inflammation?
To start with, intermittent fasting isn’t really a diet plan.
It’s an eating pattern that cycles through patterns of eating and fasting. There are no restrictions when it comes to what you eat – only when you eat.
And while it seems to be the newest trend, intermittent fasting has actually been around since the early 1900s. It was initially used to help treat diabetes and epilepsy but has grown in popularity over the last several years as an effective way to lose weight and also potentially help other health challenges such as lowering blood pressure, reducing overall body fat and decreasing inflammation.
But, does intermittent fasting really work?
According to most of the studies out there, intermittent fasting is effective in helping people lose weight. But – in principle – it’s not that different from any other calorie restricting diet because it is inevitable that if you’re restricting the hours when you are able to consume calories, it’s only natural that you’re not going to take in as much as you might ordinarily. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018.
But other studies have confirmed that intermittent fasting is effective at reducing fat and reducing significant health risks.
A 2017 study from the University of Southern California placed 71 adults on a low-calorie, fasting-mimicking diet for five days each month for three months. After following the diet, researchers found that the diet reduced cardiovascular risks, including blood pressure, inflammation, and body fat,
Other studies have also found that intermittent fasting also can impact insulin levels, increase the production of human growth hormone, and gene function related to longevity of life.
And while the studies may not be fully conclusive, what has been shown is that unlike some of the actual diet fads that have been out there that create unreasonable restrictions on anyone trying them – intermittent fasting can be a practice that you add if you are in good overall health.
How do you do it?
(1) The traditional method for intermittent fasting is known as the 16/8 program(also known as the Leangains method).
Under this approach you would consume all of your daily calories within an 8-10 hour window and fast for approximately 14-16 hours. An example might be that you limit your window for eating between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. and fast the remaining hours of the day – which means that you are limited only to water during the off hours. (Some have said that you can consume liquids like coffee or tea – without milk, or sugar because they have so few calories).
Most people seem to have the easiest following some form of this method of intermittent fasting since most of the fasting hours are spent sleeping anyway.
(2) Then there is the 5:2 program. Under this plan you would eat normally five days of the week and then, follow a modified fast for two days by eating very little – just 500 to 600 calories.
The days where you eat minimally do not have to be back-to-back and can vary depending on your schedule.
(3) Under the Eat-Stop-Eat program, participants generally will fast for a 24-hour period once or twice per week. That may mean that you don’t eat breakfast to breakfast – at least once per week.
During the remaining days of the week you eat normally.
(4) The Warrior program is an alternative version to the eat-stop-eat program where you would fast for a period of 20 hours and then just have one big meal – usually at the end of the day.
This method alternates between long periods of fasting and one big binge meal at the end of the day. This method is certainly my least favorite and one that I do not recommend my clients participate in because it creates patterns and habits of binge eating and random calorie intake that doesn’t provide for good long-term eating overall.
It’s more likely under this method of fasting that a person who has waited to eat all day will overeat (and take in a large number of calories) as a reward for fasting all day, thus eliminating much of the benefit gained from fasting.
(5) The latest twist on intermittent fasting is called the Dubrow Diet and unlike the other forms of fasting, this one feels more like a diet.
The Dubrow Diet is a three phase diet plan created reality tv couple Heather Dubrow and Terry Dubrow, M.D.
It breaks down the fasting into three phases allegedly designed to boost your metabolism and improve mental acuity. Each of the phases involves intermittent fasting and follows an eating plan that is essentially the keto diet plan.
Based on my review, the Dubrow Diet is a bit more of a fad diet than an eating pattern – it’s a restrictive diet plan that involves juggling and may or may not have long-term impact. The diet is pretty restrictive in calories and doesn’t necessarily focus on an overall health plan that will help partiicpants lose weight andkeep it off long-term.
Unfortunately, the Dubrow Diet feels like the kind of fad diet that brings people running into my office asking for help when they start to feel lethargic, frustrated and unable to sustain the results long-term.
Plus, the claims made by the couple that it is the one diet that will help you lose weight, gain energy and feel happy for the rest of your life are so over the top that it should raise caution for anyone considering the diet plan.
I don’t recommend this kind ofplan for anyone without considering their current lifestyle and physical and emotional landscape.
So, should you try intermittent fasting?
As I always tell my clients, before you consider any eating plan, it’s important to get an overall understanding of your personal health history, needs and lifestyle patterns.
But overall, if someone is in good health, I don’t have difficulty using intermittent fasting to meet certainhealth goals.
Some of my clients will complain that they have hit a weight loss plateau at some point in their weight loss journey – whether that is a factor of metabolism, portions, exercise or stress – I do see some benefit from implementing an intermittent fasting plan for someone looking to get a jump start on weight loss when other methods haven’t worked.
At the very least, it does effectively limit calorie intake during an extended period of time (as long as someone doesn’t overeat during normal eating hours).
Another benefit of trying intermittent fasting is that it keeps you on a schedule and reduces temptation to snack late at night when larger number of calories are typically consumed.
Plus, if you do suffer from high blood pressure, insulin spikes or even inflammation – seeing if intermittent fasting improves your overall condition may be worth it for some to try and see if it makes a difference.
In the end – how you feel during the execution of the eating pattern should be your guide. And as always – keeping things in moderation and checking in with a doctor if you don’t feel good are essential!
P.S. Want to know what you should be eating during your calorie intake hours to truly maximize the benefits for your body? Schedule a consultation and we’ll go over your health history, goals and create a specific meal plan that works for you!