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Here's the scoop on intermittent fasting

Posted July 29, 2019 by Alyssa Diamant, RD, LD


This recent weight loss trend places more of an emphasis on WHEN you eat than WHAT you eat (but keep in mind that both are important for success). Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating.

Depending on the type of intermittent fasting pattern you choose, your fasting time may be a few hours or a whole day a few times per week. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all.

Here are some of the most popular intermittent fasting programs:

  • The 16/8 method: With this method, you would fast for 16 hours and then have an eating window of 8 hours during the day. Usually, people choose to skip breakfast and make their eating window 12pm-8pm or 1pm-9pm.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: Using this method, you would fast for a full 24 hours once or twice a week – for example, not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  • The 5:2 Diet: When using this method of intermittent fasting, you do eat the whole time, but you cut your calories on certain days of the week. On two days of the week (that aren’t consecutive) you eat only 00-600 calories while eating normally the other 5 days.

Is intermittent fasting safe?

Intermittent fasting is not safe for everyone. People who have a history of bariatric surgery, low blood sugar (such as a person with diabetes on insulin), an eating disorder, are underweight, on certain medications, or are pregnant or trying to conceive would not be advised to partake in the 24 hour fasts (eat-stop-eat) or very low calorie diets (the 5:2 diet) listed above. Be cautious of a fasting regimen that may result in an inadequate intake of nutrients. Talk to your doctor if you are not sure if intermittent fasting is a good fit for you.

Is it healthy?

Studies are being done to determine the connection of intermittent fasting to:

  • Weight loss
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Improved heart health due to reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Reduced risk of various cancers
  • Improved brain health due to lower inflammation

Final Thoughts

If you are considering trying intermittent fasting, first make it a goal to not eat after dinner. A twelve-hour fasting window such as 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. is ideal. If you have success with this, you may try the 16/8 method outlined above (just keep in mind that you do not want to be overly restrictive). The main takeaway here is to create a sustainable approach to healthy eating. Diet quality is also a vital key to success so be sure to drink plenty of water & incorporate lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods such as sweet potato, quinoa, & nuts into the diet. Make sure to keep your doctor in the loop no matter what new trend you are ready to try. There are many “quick fixes” on the market that will not result in sustainable long-term weight loss. The best plan is to implement a physician-driven, team-based plan for the journey ahead.


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