Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting – the next big thing?

Over the past 2-3 years a new way of eating called “intermittent fasting” has became mainstream. From what I can tell, this seemed to stem from the Paleo fad that started around 10 years ago. Paleo would include periodic fasting during the week to mimic the fasting/feasting phases we experienced as cave people waaaay back in the day. While Paleo eating has seemed to quiet down over the past few years, intermittent fasting is taking off. About 6 months ago, I figured it was time for me to learn a little more about this new way of eating.

For decades we have told patients to eat at least 3 meals a day and 2 snacks a day, being sure to never, under any circumstances, should you skip breakfast. “It’s the most important meal of the day!” we’d say and encourage patients to eat within 1 hour of waking up. For many, this helped them regulate their hunger as to not overeat later in the day. Intermittent fasting typically throws this idea aside and tells people it is OK to skip breakfast Can this be for real?!

So the answer is yes and no. Intermittent fasting is a way of eating that has you eat only during a specified time frame. For some, this is fasting for a 24 hour period 1-3 times a week. For others, this is only eating from 1pm-8pm For others it is only eating from 7am-3pm. Studies have touted improved energy, improved blood sugar control, weight loss, and increased lean muscle mass (because supposedly eating less calories means your muscles grow…yeah, not so much). Many of these are anecdotal cases and mouse models, making me question how applicable they are to the general population. 

I have no doubt that intermittent fasting will likely result in weight loss. But is is long lasting and is it making your healthier? I doubt it. As with any diet, intermittent fasting a new way of eating that will work for some and not for others. Some people will claim is saved their lives. Others will fall into the diet spiral and feel ashamed and worthless because they did see the same success. 

Many people are stuck in a cycle of eating that is maladaptive and intermittent fasting may help them break that cycle to regain their ability to self-regulate their intake. Sugar addiction is a real thing; studies have found that parts of our brain associated with addiction can light up when eating certain foods, especially sugar. It’s not the same for everyone, which is why some people can say no to cake at a party and others can’t stop eating despite being full. Intermittent fasting may help you curb some of your cravings enough that you can feel more in control how and what you’re eating. If this is the case, go for it! If you end up craving more and binging after the fast is over, then please, please, please don’t follow this diet! 

So is intermittent fasting the next big thing? My vote is no. I’m sure it’s just a fad like any other diet that makes its way through society. In the big picture, eating a balanced diet (my views here - and eating intuitively (see my recent post here- is going to be the best and most realistic approach to achieving health.

I’m certain there are a handful of people who this will be the best approach for them to achieve a healthy weight and feel great. For others, it’s a fad that will come for now and fall by the wayside in a few months. 

Want to learn more about intermittent fasting? Check out these resources – 

There are dozens of resources online. Most are anctedocatl and you should take them with a grain of salt. What’s your take on intermittent fasting? Have you tried it? Did it work? Do you feel you’ve regained your relationship with food or do you feel more deprived? I’d love to hear from you!

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