Intermittent Fasting Isn’t Actually as Crazy as It Sounds
It’s more about *when* you eat than *not* eating.
I know what you’re thinking (I thought the same thing): Isn’t fasting the most extreme, non-sensical, detrimental thing you can do for your health? And aside for religious holidays (if you observe them), shouldn’t you *not* be limiting your caloric intake to pretty much nil on a regular basis? The obvious answer would be a resounding yes. BUT—and yes, there is a but—new research has been flooding the wellness space on how small breaks in eating (intermittent fasting) can actually rev up the metabolism and help manage weight loss (and the slew of other health benefits that come with maintaining a healthy weight). In order to get a bit more clarity on what intermittent fasting entails and what are, if any, potential risks of changing your eating habits, I asked a professional, Keri Glassman, RD, MS, CDN, and founder of Nutritious Life to weigh in.
First Things First:
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
“Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating—where you eat during certain times and then fast during others,” says Glassman. “There are many different ways to practice intermittent fasting; one common way is eating all your meals within a six- to eight-hour window and then fasting for 16-18 hours. Another is the 5:2 plan, where on two days a week you eat a very low-calorie diet.”
Why It Works
“First of all, it’s pretty simple to follow. If you reduce the actual hours that you eat, well, you’re probably going to eat less. That is likely the biggest reason people lose weight. There are also some metabolic changes that may even improve your health.”
You Must Remember
According to Glassman, it’s crucial that you “make sure to consume nutrient-dense foods (during the hours that you eat and/or when you’re eating very low calories in a day) so that you ensure adequate consumption of critical nutrients.”
What Will Happen to Your Body?
“Some research shows that it may help you not only drop a few pounds, but also improve overall health including cardiovascular health and preventing cancer. Many people also report improved energy when following this plan,” Glassman reveals.
Why It Isn’t as Intense as It Sounds
“Most [people] are concerned with feeling famished when fasting, but if you eat enough during eating hours and plan your meals right, it’s a bit easier. You should plan out three real-food, well-portioned meals, and then one to two snacks depending upon your hunger level,” recommends Glassman. “It’s also important to not be so hard on yourself if you slip up. Focus your energy on the meals you are eating during eating hours (the positives!) and not so much on pushing yourself to not eat. A healthy diet should be all about what you can eat, not about all the things you can’t eat.”
But Are There Risks?
“If not done properly, fasting and extreme low-calorie dieting can potentially slow down your metabolism and/or lead to a pattern of yo-yo dieting. Fasting can also be mentally draining, which can create stress and an increase in cortisol levels, which isn’t good [for anything].”
[Editor’s Note: As ever, we are not doctors or medical know-it-alls. And everybody is different, so make sure to check with a doctor before trying anything new.]