What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting—periods of voluntary abstinence from food and drink—is a broad term that can be applied to many different practices. This type of dieting has spurred many books and has received a lot of attention as of late as studies (mostly in animals) have shown that it may reduce the risk for several diseases. The most popular approach is the 16/8, which requires fasting for 16 hours a day. Another version, alternate day fasting (ADF) alternates 24-hour periods of fasting (or very restricted 500 calorie diets) with days of eating freely. The 5:2 approach limits fasting to just two days a week while the Warrior Diet follows a 20-hour fast with one large meal consumed at night. “Part of the confusion with intermittent fasting lies in the lack of a definition,” says Robin Foroutan, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “To some people intermittent fasting means that they fast every day while to others it means they only eat between 11 and 6.”
1. Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight Without Following a Traditional, Calorie-Restricted Diet
Research shows that counting calories and limiting your food options make dieting a chore and causes stress which often leads to abandonment of the diet, feelings of deprivation, uncontrolled cravings, and weight regain. Adapting to intermittent fasting, a method of scheduled eating and fasting, relies strictly on time. Some people want more flexibility when it comes to losing weight, says William Yancy, MD, director for the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. “They don’t want to think about dieting every day of the week, they lose motivation after a certain period of time of restricting calories.” With intermittent fasting you follow the rules and some people like that, explains Elisabetta Politi, RD, nutrition director for the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. Intermittent fasting works for people who like to follow rules, she says. “Rather than saying ‘just eat less’ we tell them not to eat after 6 p.m. and for those who have the discipline, it works.”
Try these healthy low-calorie snack ideas!
2. Intermittent Fasting Helps You Keep the Weight Off Over the Long Term
Following an intermittent fasting diet may make it easier to maintain the weight you lost over the long term. A two-part study compared the combined effects of a high-protein, intermittent fasting, low-calorie diet plan with a traditional heart healthy diet plan. The results showed that while both diets proved to be equally successful in reductions in body mass index (BMI) and blood lipids (fatty acids and cholesterol) in obese men and women, those on the intermittent fasting diet showed an advantage in minimizing weight regain after one year.