Whether you’ve heard of it, tried it, or are considering it… intermittent fasting has become a popular diet trend. Intermittent fasting involves restricting your eating to fall within a certain time window. Usually this time window is about 8 hours out of the day then the rest of the time you are fasting.
For example, many people choose to eat during the hours of 11am to 7pm then fast until 11am the following day. Another, less common, version of intermittent fasting is limiting one’s self to just 400 to 600 calories for two non-consecutive days during the week, then eating normally the other 5 days. The idea behind fasting for about 16 hours per day is that our bodies will have to burn stored fat for fuel rather than using glucose, which is similar to the principle behind the trending ketogenic diet.
So does it work? Well, there are some short-term studies that do suggest that intermittent fasting may promote weight loss and even reduce risk factors associated with heart disease such as diabetes, hypertension and elevated cholesterol. However, similar to most trendy diets, evidence regarding long term success rates is limited. For those who have lost weight with intermittent fasting, the weight loss tends to be gradual over time.
Intermittent fasting does not eliminate certain food groups, which makes it a more sustainable plan. In other words, you can achieve a balanced intake of a variety of foods-just as long as it’s within a certain time frame. This may also help those who struggle with late night eating kick this habit by having an established time to stop eating for the day.
On the other hand, many eating windows for intermittent fasting begin after breakfast-so this meal is commonly skipped altogether. I do believe breakfast plays an important role in promoting concentration and incorporating variety into one’s diet. For example, common breakfast foods include fruit, oatmeal, and eggs. Consuming breakfast can also help prevent dips in energy or reaching extreme hunger that can lead to overconsumption. Furthermore, you should not consider fasting if you have certain existing conditions such as diabetes or if you take medications in the morning that should be taken with food. It’s best to consult with your healthcare professional before deciding on this trend due to the risks of fasting.
All in all, the best type of eating approach is the one that works best for you. Consider whether or not your current diet leaves you feeling nourished and energized and if it fits well with your lifestyle long term.