The Deets on Intermittent Fasting

I’m sure by now you have heard of intermittent fasting. Or maybe you haven’t and that’s why you are here! Either way, I’m here to bring you up to speed and give you all the deets on intermittent fasting. By doing this, you will be able to decide for yourself whether this is the right option for you or at least know the truth!

First, I should warn you that I have a biased opinion because I know that sustainable, long term weight loss can be done WITHOUT diets. Secondly, I want you to know that I fully advocate that every individual has the right to choose what approach they would like to take, but I would love to give you all the information I can so that you can make the best choice for you! 

Lastly, let’s define intermittent for what it is: a diet. Not convinced? It relies on restriction  in the time of day you can eat or the amounts you can eat on certain days! Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that requires you to cycle your intake around certain hours of the day or even certain days of the week. Ultimately, we know that losing weight comes down to several factors: calorie deficit, reduced stress, and feasibility. So, let’s dive in and explore the deets of intermittent fasting! 

How does Intermittent Fasting work?

As I’ve already mentioned, intermittent fasting is a diet. Known as a cyclical diet regimen for weight loss, IF (intermittent fasting) uses periods of fasting and fed states in order to encourage your body to lose weight. By restricting calories, your body loses fat and weight; however, states of fasting can cycle anywhere between 8, 16, and even 24 hours at a time. These are commonly phrased or known as the alternate-day fasting or time-restricted feeding methods. Sounds complicated, right? 

It can be! Intermittent fasting works through restriction for hours and days at a time. This low calorie approach triggers your immune response (fight or flight system) to believe that you are stressed. As a result, your body will activate its immune response in order to survive and stimulate the breakdown of fat and muscle to have available for energy. This is how the weight loss happens! However, your body doesn’t realize you are simply trying to lose weight… it thinks you need to survive danger! Because of this, the stress from triggering IF for its benefits can be misleading or not very helpful for you long term.

What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Quite simply, IF (intermittent fasting) can help you lose weight. Before you rush to get started with IF though, I encourage you to keep reading! The benefits of IF are known to include better health and cardiovascular metrics and is even proposed to help with inflammation and lower the risk of obesity-induced diseases such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes. But let’s be clear, these benefits occur with weight loss… so there isn’t parallel or causation evidence that IF itself is the key!

Intermittent fasting is believed to utilize the stress of fasting (the hours you don’t eat) to trigger an immune response that will repair cells and promote positive metabolic systems (your metabolism). Why is this beneficial? Well, it triggers your body to survive and use its own fat and muscle for energy! Your metabolic system becomes efficient at fueling itself while in the calorie restriction phases, which leads to an overall weight loss. A body is survival at work, huh?

Another controversial benefit is the ability for IF to support portion control and the maintenance of appropriate eating habits as you must adhere to the windows of feeding time IF requires. As a result, those who struggle with late night eating or continuous grazing may find intermittent fasting helpful as they can eat according to their body’s hunger and fullness cues (as long as it’s within the allotted feeding window). Overall, the benefits of IF come down to: its ability to help people lose weight, the increase in health markers, and the decrease in risk for disease. Though these are all the details about IF benefits, these aren’t all the deets about intermittent fasting! 

The Questionable Parts

So now that you know the benefits of weight loss, maybe you can tell why I am a little skeptical of this diet? First, it’s a diet that is based on long term, repeated restriction! I don’t know about you, but I know that’s not a fun way to live life long-term. Weight loss should have a maintenance and sustainability plan! The last thing we want to think about for the rest of our lives is how to stick with a diet and spend our energy doing so for years to come! As most all of the benefits that come from intermittent fasting come from the weight loss itself, wouldn’t you want an easier and less stressful way to achieve your goals? 

Let’s face it, the fact that your body has to induce stress in order to lose weight is crazy! When we think long-term about following intermittent fasting, we find that our metabolism actually slows down to accommodate for the frequent low calories and restriction it’s receiving. What? You mean our bodies are built to survive?! Of course! By participating in intermittent fasting long-term, we can actually slow our metabolism as our bodies acclimate to the level of restriction and work it must do to maintain the energy stores needed to keep your body alive and well.

Intermittent Fasting in Research

Additionally, the research indicates that the  intermittent fasting approach is not superior to consistent, long term weight loss. Why? Because our bodies want to survive! As a result, research has found that IF tends to result in a weight loss plateau, as the body recognizes the stress it is under and will not promote fat loss in order to keep us alive and well. A weight loss plateau is not exactly in tune with what you want in your weight loss goals, is it? 

If you aren’t convinced yet that intermittent fasting may not be the way to go, let’s take a deeper look at the research. The side effects of intermittent fasting (which is aggressive calorie restriction) include hunger, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and headaches. On top of that, hunger and appetite levels weren’t indicated to change much at all in participants’ throughout weeks of adhering to an intermittent fasting diet. This means that if you are hungry already while restricting, you’re still going to be hungry and lacking energy after weight loss too! That is definitely not the fun we should be having and definitely not something I would look forward to.

The Final Deets

Long story short, intermittent fasting does exactly what it was designed to do: be a diet. Regardless of your window of feeding vs. fasting time or what you eat while in your window of time, IF still encourages a stress response and low-calorie restriction. Though this may work for weight loss, it may also trigger more muscle loss with fat loss than consistent, steady weight loss alone! And as a busy gal, we love our muscle and want to keep it! 

While IF may benefit some people, the overall consensus is that it can be just as frustrating or crazy as any other diet out there. I mean c’mon, eating only in a window of time each day? That leaves no room for spontaneity and only sounds like stress waiting to happen, especially if you live a busy life! As a result, the deets of intermittent fasting come to this general conclusion: not the best option out there for healthy, restriction-free weight loss!

So instead of another diet, let’s treat our bodies well and lose weight without the long term stress! My nutrition coaching program provides a blueprint for success on how to lose weight and KEEP it off long-term without a diet. Not convinced? Apply for a free strategy call and let’s chat about how we can work together to achieve your goals without the stress of a diet! 

About Laura
Laura Gaston, RD

Welcome to my website! I’m Laura Gaston, a registered and licensed dietitian. 

First of all, I’m honored you’re spending your valuable time reading my posts or looking into my services. The mission of Busy Gal Nutrition is to make sustainable nutrition for weight loss and general health accessible to the girl on the go. Nutrition doesn’t have to be time-consuming or restrictive, but it does have to be science-backed. I also think it helps if it’s a little fun, too. 

I provide nutrition coaching that includes all of that tailored to your schedule and needs. This is YOUR lifestyle, after all! Continue reading…

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