Intermittent Fasting: Is it for you?

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WITH SUMMER JUST A COUPLE OF MONTHS AWAY, WHO WOULDN’T WANT TO FEEL CONFIDENT AND LOOK AMAZING IN A SWIMSUIT? I’m sure I do! However, for some, trips to the gym, or any other involvement in a physical activity, is just quite unquestionable. With today’s fast-paced life, time may be a huge factor, which is why most people turn to the alternative, diet plans.

What is Intermittent Fasting?
There are numerous weight loss strategies or diet plans consistently being promoted, and one that has gained much popularity is the Intermittent Fasting (IF).

IF is a weight loss approach that involves an eating pattern with periods of fasting and eating; and while there are different versions, it boils down to an approach with a normal eating diet on some days, then drastically reducing it for a certain period of time.

1. Alternate-Day Fasting or the Every Other Day Diet -means days of no food restrictions and days with a 400-500 calorie max limitation. For instance, Mon- Wed-Fri can be the days when you can eat normally and Tues and Thurs will be intended for fasting or reducing your calorie intake.

2. Whole-Day Fasting or the 5:2 -means no food restriction 5 days a week and 2 days of fasting or low calorie intake of 400-500

3. Time-restricted feeding -involves a meal plan with time restrictions; meals can be eaten from 8am – 4pm, and fasting for the remaining hours of the day

Why It Can Work
In an article written by Monique Tello, MD, MPH for the Harvard Medical School Publishing, she said that “IF makes intuitive sense when it comes to weight loss. The food we eat is broken down by enzymes in our gut and eventually ends up as molecules in our bloodstream. Carbohydrates, particularly sugars and refined grains (think white flours and rice), are quickly broken down into sugar, which our cells use for energy. If our cells don’t use it all, we store it in our fat cells as, well, fat. But sugar can only enter our cells with insulin, a hormone made in the pancreas. Insulin brings sugar into the fat cells and keeps it there. Between meals, as long as we don’t snack, our insulin levels will go down and our fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy. We lose weight if we let our insulin levels go down. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.” she explained.

In the same article, Dr. Tello noted that in a study conducted by the University
of Alabama, a group of obese men with pre-diabetes took on the time-restricted feeding version of IF, and showed no weight loss nor weight gain for the duration of the experiment; but after five weeks, their insulin levels have dramatically lowered and a significant improvement was found in their insulin sensitivity. Furthermore, the group also experienced a notable decrease in appetite.

“Just changing the timing of meals, by eating earlier in the day and extending the overnight fast, significantly benefited metabolism even in people who didn’t lose a single pound.” said Dr. Tello.

Does It Work?
Metabolic expert Dr. Deborah Wexler, Director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School confirmed, “There is evidence to suggest that the circadian rhythm fasting approach, where meals are restricted to an eight to 10-hour period of the daytime, is effective.”

Although, she recommends that general people should choose an eating approach that is most sustainable for them, and where they can see and experience the results.

How To Start
As with any weight loss eating approach, you have to stay committed to your diet plan and to your purpose and goal, which is why, as Dr. Wexler have mentioned, one must choose an approach that is sustainable. This is to factor in your lifestyle and health conditions. People who have sensitive medical conditions, eating disorders, and pregnant and breastfeeding women are not recommended to try this diet plan.

Furthermore, a healthy diet is also always key to a healthy and fit body. It is best that even on days when eating restrictions are not applied, you should avoid sugar or refined grains, and eat healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lean proteins and healthy fat.

Sources:

Intermittent fasting: Surprising update
Diet Review: Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
https://www.webmd.com/diet/a-z/intermittent-fasting https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/intermittent-fasting-diet-plan-how-to-schedule-meals

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