Intermittent fasting(IF) is an eating pattern that has been followed by celebrities, influencers and the wellness world for almost a decade. I will break down the IF to give you a brief explanation from the point of a dietitian.
-What is intermittent fasting?
There are many versions of intermittent fasting(IF). However, there are three main types.
1- Alternate day fasting; alternating the days in fasting and non-fasting days. There are only non-caloric beverages allowed on fasting days while you can eat and drink whatever you want on non-fasting days.
2- Whole day fasting 5:2; eating normally for 5 days in a week and fasting or consuming very little calories for 1 to 2 days;
3- Time-restricted fasting (16:8) is known as the most popular. You or your dietitian create an eating window which works best with your schedule and you don’t consume anything with calories besides this window.For example, if you do 16:8; you can start eating at 10 am and eat or drink until 6 pm.
-Is Intermittent fasting helping you to lose weight/burn fat?
Some researchers found that IF can help you to lose body weight by burning fat. Contrary to these findings, some researchers concluded that IF is not superior to calorie-deficit diets. Therefore, there is definitely need for more research on this subject.
-Is it another fad diet?
Not really. IF differs from fad diets by being a lifestyle instead of a list of a bunch of food you should avoid or consume. IF is only about the timing of the eating pattern that you already have been following.
-What is my opinion on practicing IF as a dietitian?
I have been fasting since my childhood during Ramadan and I really enjoy it for many reasons. For instance, my body sometimes lose the physical cues of hunger and satiety. By fasting, I am getting my signals back and I honor this by feeding my soul and body while breaking my fast. I also had clients who have been practicing time-restricted IF. We worked as a team to meet my client’s needs during the eating window to avoid possible deficiencies while losing weight.
-Who needs to avoid IF?
People who have history or active disordered eating and older adults. People with diabetes or anyone who has ongoing disease and taking medicine should consult their doctor before changing their routine.
Some researchers suggested that people can benefited from IF by controlling the blood sugar, losing body fat and increasing life expectancy. It is good to be aware of the fact that these researches mostly studied on rats rather than on human subjects. Therefore, the results may differ in human subjects.
Bottom line: IF is not a miracle. Because you can have the same result as if you follow a low-calorie diet. If it aligns with your schedule, you can try along with a healthy meal plan and get the results and see from your experience instead of someone else’s. Remember everyone is different and it is important to have your personal plan to get the best outcomes. Consider consulting a dietitian if you need help with what to eat during your eating window to avoid any deficiencies.