Intermittent Fasting

The DietΒ 

Intermittent fasting, also called alternate day fasting, has been gaining popularity lately. This type of fasting differs from fasts that you usually hear about where you don’t eat any food from sun up to sun down. Instead, you limit your total daily intake to around 500-700 calories. All other days you are free to eat as you usually do.

Pros

  • Eating much less for 1 day at a time is easier for people to follow than eating less everyday.
  • Fasting can force your body to burn fat for fuel because glucose from your food isn’t available.

Cons

  • Those sensitive to low blood sugar such as diabetics and others who may get headaches and become cranky when food is not consumed every few hours need steady glucose levels to avoid crashes that lead to hunger and overeating.
  • You may experience gastrointestinal problems that usually go away within the first week.
  • For some, fasting can trigger negative behavior.

Researchers Say

  • Fasting may affect the production of the hormone ghrelin which when increased will increase hunger. For this reason I call this hormone a gremlin.
  • There may be a psychological component. People are more aware of the sensation of true physical hunger instead of habit or thirst.
  • Our ancestors did not have food readily available so most of us are genetically programmed to go hungry for longer stretches than we currently do.
  • Plan your fasting days ahead of time and eat satiating foods such as healthy fats found in nuts, avocados, and fatty fish, along fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Studies Show

  • After a fasting day, people don’t seem to gorge themselves as much as one might believe because many are less hungry than usual when they fast.
  • A study in the International Journal of Obesity (I was unable to find this study, this is according to Women’s Health) Overweight women who ate 650 calories per day twice a week and up to 2500 calories on the other days lost 14 pounds over 6 months. Women who ate a restricted diet of 1500 calories daily lost 12 pounds.
  • Exercise can help. Overweight people who worked out while on alternate-day fasting doubled their total fat loss. Make sure to eat after instead of before because your body needs refueling and if you start to feel uncomfortable or light-headed, stop working out.
  • It takes about 2 weeks for your body to adjust

Bottom Line

This diet could be a good way for overweight individuals without diabetes looking to drop some pounds. This is not for those looking to maintain or lose weight in an unhealthy way.

References

“Life in the Fasting Lane: Does Intermittent Fasting Work – and Is It Healthy?” Women’s Health.Β January/February 2014.

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