Intermittent Fasting has quickly been picked up as a method that a lot of people “swear by” in order to lose weight and keep off their weight loss. It has also become a controversial topic in the world of nutrition, due to the fact that “fasting” can be associated with possessing disordered eating patterns and denying the body of food when a person is hungry. I’ve spent a lot of time stewing over what my own opinion is on Intermittent Fasting, and I have finally found the facts I needed to make up my mind.
There are three different types of Intermittent Fasting:
“Alternate Day Fasting” constitutes alternating days of fasting and days of eating. On “eating” days, a person eats whatever they want while on “fasting” days, they cannot consume anything with calories at all- black coffee, water, and tea it is. The biggest setback to this type of fasting is that a person might experience severe hunger pains and decreased focus on their fasting days, due to lack of energy (calorie) intake. Research has shown that the long-term effects on a person’s health are unknown and that while weight loss may occur, it’s not likely that it exceeds the amount that would be lost by a low-calorie diet.
“Modified Fasting” is eating very little amounts of food on fasting days (20-25%), or following a “5:2” pattern, which means a person will fast two days of the week. Research on this type of fasting is very inconsistent, since some subjects showed weight loss while others did not. Overall, there’s not enough research that has been done to determine if this method is safe or sustainable.
“Time-restricted Fasting” is the most commonly known form of fasting. For example, a person committed to this type of fasting might choose around 8 hours of the day in which they consume all of their calories, such as 10 AM- 6PM. Not enough research has been done on this type of fasting to conclude if it produces sustainable weight loss or not.
The verdict? There just simply isn’t enough research to determine what the lifelong impacts of Intermittent Fasting are; for this reason, it’s not recommended for weight loss treatment. The possibility that a person could develop nutrient deficiencies due to extended periods of fasting is too great to commit to Intermittent Fasting without proper knowledge. At the end of the day, reducing calories supplemented with more physical activity and healthy lifestyle changes is still the best method to produce sustainable weight loss. Is it old school? Yes. But there’s no magic method to dropping pounds and keeping them off.
If you’re trying to lose weight and you want a snack, then eat an apple. Or if you wake up early and want a big breakfast, fix something hearty and healthy. If you’re hungry, then eat. No matter what time it is.
1. Gordon B. What is Intermittent Fasting. Eatright.org. https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-intermittent-fasting. Published 2019. Accessed August 11, 2019.