Okay, so intermittent fasting. Yet another in a long, long line of diet modalities, shall we say? Everyone's talking about it, so we will too.
Let’s go to the science, shall we?
There are a few different types of fasts.
Alternate-Day Fasting, which is exactly what it sounds like, although there are variances in this and all the other types of fasts. Basically you fast all or part of one day and then eat as normal the next.
Eat-Stop-Eat. You restrict calories and then resume consumption at regular intervals.
Random Meal Skipping. Skipping meals at random throughout the week.
Feeding Window. Eating during a set period of time every day. For example: eating between 6 and 8am and then not again until 6 and 8pm
And as I said there are a ton of variances and different ways someone can decide to run their fasting program. Question is, does it work? In a word, yes. In much the same way a restricted calorie diet works, intermittent fasting seems to work in that a person is taking in fewer calories than they are expending and therefore weight loss occurs. That, in the end, is still the basic equation and intermittent fasting seems to do the job by not giving a person enough time to overindulge.
For some this is a much more doable way to lose weight because you are not having to assess the caloric value of each and every meal, but just eating and then not eating. As you can imagine it stands to reason that our bodies may take to this quite well. Our ancient ancestors almost surely ate in a very randomized way considering they ate when food was available and didn’t when it wasn’t.
Is it healthy? There's not a ton of data to support it, but studies have shown some improvement in certain health markers. This is likely due, again, to caloric restriction. Caloric restriction (in a healthy, measured manner) is the only scientifically backed way that has shown to increase longevity in humans. And so this is probably where these improvements stem from.
Downsides to intermittent fasting? It can be quite stressful, especially at first, as you and your body are learning to adapt to your new regime. Headaches, fatigue, and overall crankiness are common. Hydration is extremely important, as always, and some have to remember that fasting from food is not fasting from water. Good hydration can help eliminate some of the downside stressors when beginning this type of program.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone but it may be an interesting alternative for others. We do not endorse or oppose intermittent fasting. We do ask, if you embark on this or any other nutritional program, that you do so in a healthy, whole food, thoughtful way.
If you do decide to embark on an intermittent fasting program, we’d love to hear about your experience and your results.
For more information on this and other nutritional topics check out our friends at examine.com. Our source for the science behind the hype!
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