By Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
Fasting is a current diet craze, but an old tradition for many cultures and religions. It’s been a necessity at times due to scarce food supply. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Taoism practice fasting, among others. It’s also been viewed as a way to cleanse the body and ward off illness.
The Greek Philosopher Plutarch said, “Instead of using medicine, rather, fast a day.”
So it’s got a history of use for many reasons. But can fasting be a key to weight management?
Intermittent fasting involves periods of fasting with periods of eating. Intermittent fasts can be for an entire day or for a few hours.
Popular weight loss fasting regimens:
- Eat-Stop-Eat: In Eat-Stop-Eat, method may be what you think of when you hear the word fasting. You fast for a full 24 hours once or twice a week. You are not allowed any calories during the 24 hours fast (just water or other low calorie beverages like tea).
- 8-Hour Diet: In the 8-hour diet, you fast for 16 hours each day. You keep your eating to an 8-hour window such as from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Ideally you eat healthfully during the 8-hour segment.
- 5:2 Diet: In the 5:2 diet, you eat normally 5 days per week and fast for 2 days. On the fasting days, you consume 25% of your usual meals which is around 500-600 calories for the day. Fasting days can be consecutive or spread out during the week. For example, you could fast on Tuesday and Wednesday each week or spread out the days and fast on Monday and Thursday.
Possible benefits of fasting:
- Weight loss: You will most likely lose weight due to decreased calorie intake (unless you make up for the calories you cut on dates/times when you do eat).
- Lowered cholesterol and blood sugar: With reduction in weight, you may have a reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and blood sugar.
- Lowered blood pressure: With reduction in weight, you may have a reduced blood pressure.
Possible disadvantages of fasting:
- Reduction in exercise: On days that you are fasting or consuming 25% of your normal calorie intake, exercise may be difficult. Fasting does not fuel the body for activity.
- Reduction in metabolism: Fasting (especially 24-hour fasts) may reduce your metabolism, as the body adjusts to the lowered calorie intake.
- Side effects: For some people, fasting may result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), headaches, dizziness, and weakness. Individuals with diabetes who are on medication (insulin, pills, and other injections) are at an increased risk for hypoglycemia and should discuss fasting with their physician so that adjustments in medications can be made if needed.
I have worked in the field of nutrition and wellness for many years, and I have found that we are all individuals and a “one size fits all” diet prescription does not work.
Intermittent fasting may be a solution for some people desiring weight loss, but is not for everyone.
If you get hangry (angry when hungry) like I do, then you may want to refrain from intermittent fasting … for the safety of your friends and family!
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Rock Valley Health. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|