The Fast Track to Intermittent Fasting
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Various diet trends make robust claims to deliver speedy weight loss results, but many of these eating patterns prove to be unsustainable. This can be very discouraging after putting in the time and commitment to adhering to an eating plan only for the results to be impossible to maintain long-term.
Cooper Clinic Platinum Physician and Cooper Weight Loss Medical Director Emily Hebert, MD, discusses the goals and science behind intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting Explained
When you boil it down, intermittent fasting is refraining from eating for specific lengths of time during the day or week in order to achieve weight loss. “By eating less food on a daily or weekly basis, you put your body in a calorie restrictive state which, if done correctly, leads to weight loss,” says Dr. Hebert. Various studies show intermittent fasting to reap health benefits such as:
- Weight loss
- Energy gain
- Improved metabolism
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Decreased inflammation
The beauty of intermittent fasting is that there are different types of fasting period plans depending on your preferences and lifestyle.
The Methods behind the Fasting
The 16/8 Method
This plan involves fasting every day for 16 hours and allowing an eight hour window to eat. The simplest way to carry out this method is to not eat anything from the timeframe after dinner until lunch the following day. Drinking water, coffee or any other non-caloric beverage during the fasting period helps minimize feelings of hunger. The key is eating enough and eating healthful during the eight hour window where you are allowed to eat. This method can prove to be difficult for breakfast fans and easier for those who naturally skip breakfast in the mornings anyway.
The 5:2 Method
The 5:2 plan allows you to eat normally for five days of the week and then restrict yourself to 500-600 calories for two nonconsecutive days of the week. For example, one could eat as they normally would every day of the week except for Monday and Thursday, where they would then consume two small meals of 250-300 calories each on those two days.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Method
This particular intermittent fasting method entails a 24-hour fast for two nonconsecutive periods during the week. You can fast from breakfast to breakfast, lunch to lunch or dinner to dinner, as long as it equals out to 24 hours in between. Water, coffee and non-caloric beverages are still permitted while you are fasting from solid foods, in order to prevent dehydration and decrease hunger.
How do you know which plan is right for you? “In recommending a certain plan to someone, I would base my recommendation on what seems to work best with their lifestyle,” explains Dr. Hebert. “In my experience, it seems that the 16/8 method is the most doable for the majority of my patients.”
Sustainable for Any Lifestyle
With the decent amount of research done on this diet trend, Dr. Hebert states that intermittent fasting seems to be a weight loss and maintenance plan that is sustainable for many people and does not appear to exhibit any signs of negative, long-term effects when done correctly and under the supervision of a physician.
“My first recommendation for those trying to lose weight is always going to be lifestyle change first,” says Dr. Hebert. “Healthier eating and regular exercise are key. What you are eating during the non-fasting periods is just as important as when you eat.”
“Fasting can be tricky,” says Dr. Hebert. “If you are fasting for a period of time but not consuming enough calories during the non-fasting periods, you can overall feel poorly and it can even sabotage your metabolism.” She proceeds to warn that fasting may lead to life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes for those who have diabetes or take medication to lower blood sugar, and to consult with your physician before beginning intermittent fasting.
Before embarking on a weight loss plan, it’s important to speak with your primary care provider and a registered dietitian nutritionist for medical clearance and nutrition guidance. For more information about Cooper Weight Loss, visit cooperweightloss.com or call 972.367.6100.
For more information about Cooper Clinic, visit cooper-clinic.com or call 972.560.2667.