Nutrition trends are everywhere. Especially when it comes to weight loss. Some have merit, and some don’t. This week I’m going to talk about one of the hottest trends now - intermittent fasting - including the different ways to do it, what the research says on its effectiveness for weight loss, as well as things to consider before attempting intermittent fasting.
And, I have a fabulous and super-easy recipe for you too (as usual!).
In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is just that: fasting intermittently.
It's limiting calorie intake during certain hours/day or days/week. It's more of an eating pattern than a diet. It limits when to eat, and not so much what to eat. And that’s part of it’s appeal to people who don’t want to count calories or use their food log to track everything.
Some would say that it's a more natural way to eat because humans evolved without refrigerators, drive-throughs, or 24-hour convenience stores. We now have access to food (including junk food) all day long, so eating several meals per day plus snacks may be less natural than fasting from time to time.
There are lots of variations on this theme. They include:
- 16/8 which is 16 hours of fasting, and eating only within the other 8 hours (often 12:00 pm. - 8:00 p.m.) – a natural if you don’t normally eat breakfast;
- 5:2 days of fasting, where you eat regularly for five days of the week, then take in just 500-600 calories/day for the other two (non-consecutive) days.
IS INTERMITTENT FASTING EFFECTIVE FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Intermittent fasting can help with weight loss because it can help you to eat fewer calories, and burn more calories, too, because intermittent fasting allows your body to access your body fat for fuel during the fasting period.
Lots of people say they have success with it. But what do the studies say?
According to one review study, intermittent fasting helped people to lose 3-8% of their weight over 3-24 weeks. In this study, people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference (i.e., belly fat, the bane of midlife women).
Another study of 100 people with obesity showed that after a year, the people who fasted on alternate days lost more weight than people who didn’t change their eating pattern. But, (and here’s where it’s interesting) they didn’t lose any more weight than those on a calorie restricted diet. Out of the people who were to follow the intermittent fasting protocol, 38% of them dropped out.
BEFORE YOU CONSIDER INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. People who are underweight, or have eating disorders shouldn’t fast. Neither should women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Also, people with blood sugar issues should not try intermittent fasting.
Certain medical conditions can be worsened with longer periods of fasting and people taking certain medications can be prone to side effects with intermittent fasting as well.
One of the reasons people drop out of the intermittent fasting eating pattern is that some find it hard to stick with the fasting part. They may eat when they’re supposed to be fasting. Or when they finish fasting, they may overindulge due to the reaction of the appetite hormones and hunger drive while fasting. None of these will help with weight loss.
Also, the hours and days of fasting can be very difficult to fit into a very busy life (think obligatory work lunches and dinner and cocktails with friends). So having strong social support will be key to those intermittent periods of fasting.
Sticking to a (healthy, nutrient-dense) weight loss and lifestyle plan (such as the Paleo or Keto diets) is really the key to success. Intermittent fasting can be used as a next step to accelerate weight loss, if you do it right.
Intermittent fasting is a weight loss tool that works for some people. It can help to lose weight and reduce belly fat. But, it isn't safe for everyone (always consult your health care practitioner if you have any medical condition before you try intermittent fasting). It can also be difficult to stick with if you don’t plan your days accordingly.
For the best chance of long-term weight loss success, optimizing your diet for your real life – one you can stick with - is key.
What about you - have you or someone you know tried intermittent fasting? What were the results? Let me know in my free Facebook Midlife Women Wellness & Weight Loss Success Group. Join here ==>> http://bit.ly/2CBZrVe.
RECIPE (WHOLE FOOD): ALMOND BUTTER ENERGY BITES
Makes about 12 energy bites
- 1 cup oats
- ⅔ cup almond butter
- ½ cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet and dairy-free if possible)
- ½ cup flax seeds, ground
- 2 tbsp honey
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir.
Using a tablespoon to measure, roll into about 12 energy bites.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can roll the bites to coat them in cocoa powder for a bit of extra flavor and to prevent them from being too sticky.
The information provided on this website is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional or be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your physician or other healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet, medical plan, or exercise routine.