I recently had the pleasure of teaching at a medical weight loss conference alongside Dr. Jason Fung, author of “The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss.”
Although fasting is not a new concept, Dr. Fung’s book promotes intermittent fasting as a tool to help with weight loss.
Instead of focusing on what you are eating like other popular diets (low carb, low fat, meal replacements, low calorie, balanced deficit, South Beach, Paleo, most commercialized weight loss programs), intermittent fasting focuses on when you are eating.
The concept of intermittent fasting is rather simple: eat what you want during your eating times, then don’t eat during other times. Instead of focusing on eat this not that, just follow your eating schedule.
There are countless varieties of intermittent fasting diets. But most either involve time-restricted eating (eat only during specified time periods each day) or full days of fasting (kind of like Jewish people do on the sacred day of atonement each year). However, for weight loss, most people would do this on a weekly vs. an annual basis.
Some of the most popular approaches to intermittent fasting include:
- 16-8: Eat what you want for 8 hours, don’t eat the other 16 hours. For example, if your eating interval starts at 10:00 AM, then it ends 8 hours later at 6:00 PM. So, eat what you want between 10 AM and 6 PM, but don’t eat after 6 PM or before 10 AM.
- Fasting Days: Eat what you want 5-6 days per week, don’t eat 1-2 days per week. Or commonly on fasting days, eat one meal that provides ~25% of daily calorie needs.
If you choose to engage in an intermittent fasting routine, be sure to stay well hydrated during your fasting intervals, and make sure to get proper electrolytes.
Although we never advocate a “1-size fits all” approach to achieving a healthy weight, we have seen people have success with Intermittent Fasting to help them lose weight.
In animal studies, intermittent fasting can be a highly effective weight loss intervention. But does it work in people? A review done by Harvard suggests “No.” They reviewed 40 human studies of Intermittent Fasting for weight loss, and found:
- Weight loss 7-11 pounds over 10 weeks
- Dropout rates vary from 0 to 65%
- No significant difference between intermittent fasting and continuous calorie restriction
- No differences in blood pressure, heart rate, glucose, insulin, triglycerides, or total cholesterol, but one study showed increased LDL in fasting group
So, is intermittent fasting right for you? Well, that depends. Is it safe for you? Is it effective? Does it provide a long-term solution? Is this a strategy that makes sense to you over the long-haul? Does it benefit other medical problems? Do you have any health problems that would make it unsafe?
Consider these questions as you make your decision, and feel free to discuss with the professional staff at Clinical Nutrition Center. We are happy to help guide you!