Intermittent Fasting Diets: What's the Deal?

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One of the most talked about and trendy diets today is Intermittent Fasting. There’s a lot of (inconclusive) research being done and books being written on the diet. Some of you may take a pause and think, fasting? How can that be healthy? Here’s the deal on the fasting diet.

Different Versions of the Intermittent Fasting Diet

There are different methods of intermittent diet. They include:

  • "The Fast Diet" aka 5:2 diet: This version of intermittent fasting is based on eating normally, without restriction, for 5 days of the week and fasting for 2. On your “fasting” days, you consume about 500 calories..  

  • Alternate-day Fasting: In this regimen, you eat only 500 calories every other day (and normally on the others).

  • Time Restricted Feeding: Here you consume all of your day’s calories in a 6 to 8 hour window and fast for the rest of the day.

So should I try intermittent fasting?

First and foremost, you have to know yourself. I find intermittent fasting to be a good strategy for about half of my clients. If you tend to get “hangry” (hungry and angry) without eating every 2 or 3 hours and this idea sounds crazy, it’s probably not a good option for you. If you truly don’t get hungry until lunchtime most days and think this sounds like a great idea, it’s likely worth a try.

Of all the regimens, I find the Time Restricted Intermittent Fasting to be the safest and most effective. The 5:2 diet and alternate-day eating versions are too hard on the body. While you aren’t supposed to binge on your “normal” eating days, a lot of people take them for granted and do just that. This back and forth from excessive consumption to deprivation is likely not healthy.

Do you still taste dinner at 9am the next morning or find that you are never hungry for breakfast, even if you cut down on your nighttime calories? I find these clients have more success at weight loss when they give their bodies a longer time to digest their last meal. So instead of forcing yourself to eat that bowl of oatmeal in the morning and then a post-morning protein shake and then a mid-morning energy bar because you think you “should”, you may want to try the intermittent diet.

It also can work for people who find that when they eat too early in the day, they are hungrier for the rest of the day. By eating all your calories in a 6 to 8-hour window -- say lunch, afternoon snack and dinner -- you’ll probably find that you cut down on your daily calorie intake without even trying. By getting rid of breakfast and your mid-morning snack, you generally consume less, which helps with weight loss.

Having trouble losing weight or meeting your health goals and think this sounds intriguing? It might be time for you to give intermittent fasting a try.