For many decades the common prescription to weight loss was to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. It was suggested to not go more than 3-4 hours before you eat something. The idea was to avoid getting to the point where you were so hungry that you wouldn’t be able to control your food choices and/or portion sizes. This traditional approach has worked for thousands of our clients and science has proven it to be effective so it can still be considered an effective approach to weight loss.
However, Intermittent Fasting (IF), an ancient approach to weight loss has become extremely popular in the last few years. There are many forms but basically IF cycles between period of fasting and periods of eating. If you think about it, we all fast intermittently every day. Let’s say we eat dinner at 7pm and then don’t eat again until 7am the next morning when we eat breakfast, therefore ‘breaking the 12 hour fast’. The most popular IF diet plans, follow specific periods of fasting and eating that extend the periods of fasting and control more strictly the periods of eating. For example, one of the most popular approaches is to fast for 16 hours and consume all your calories within 8 hours. So if you start eating at 10am, you’re done consuming all calories by 6pm. Or 15/9 where you eat during a 9 hour period and fast the other 15. Other methods include eating for 6 days and fasting for 1 day per week. Other approaches fast every other day. Some approaches use spontaneous meal skipping where you skip meals when it’s convenient. There are many approaches to IF but bottom line, they all function to restrict caloric consumption during specific periods.
So why do people choose to fast intermittently?:
- Weight Loss – IF can result in lowered caloric intake and therefore weight loss. When you are eating for a shorter period of time during the day, you are more likely to consume less calories.
- Manage Hunger – Practicing IF teaches you to be ok with the sensations of hunger which ultimately, you will need to manage when trying to lose weight.
- Overall Health – Some studies have shown that IF can improve blood glucose levels, lower insulin levels, reduce insulin resistance therefore reducing risk for diabetes, reduce risk for cancers, improve heart health and more.
There are definitely a lot of people experiencing great results with IF but it is not the magic pill to overall health and weight loss. If you are considering trying IF, be sure to first see your doctor to confirm there are no reasons that you should not try this approach. For example, those with diabetes and/or anyone taking medications should consult with a doctor to assure there would not be a negative impact as a result of this diet. In addition, those struggling with eating disorders may have a hard time maintaining a healthy relationship with food following this approach. In addition, if you are happy with your health and body weight, continue with your current nutrition plan. As mentioned above, a traditional approach to nutrition and weight loss has been proven to be effective for weight loss and overall health so no need to change if it’s working for you!
It’s also important to note that if you try IF, you still need to eat healthy. You can’t expect to binge on nutrient-poor junk food during the feast periods and expect to lose weight and obtain optimal health. Food quality is critical and IF does not give you the license to eat whatever you want during the eating periods.
FREE Intermittent Fasting Workshop: If you would like more information about Intermittent Fasting, you can attend a FREE Workshop on Tuesday May 21st from 6:45-7:45. The workshop will provide pros and cons, various forms of IF and guidelines to do it safely and effectively.
Yours in health & fitness,
Note: As an avid Columbian reader, you can redeem a 2 week pass at her world-class training studio to help get you started. Contact 360.574.7292 for more details.
Join us for the RUN TO REMEMBER WASHINGTON! Sunday May 19th in Downtown Washougal, WA (just across the river from Portland Oregon)
The 4th Annual Run to Remember WA will honor the brave men and women who have or are currently serving in our Armed Forces and remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice fighting for our freedom. The Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and Memorial Mile running and walking event will benefit various Military Organizations.