New dieting trend introduces old-fashioned idea of fasting

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Boyle County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences

Fad diets are such an infectious trend in our country. Personally I hear of lots of people trying lots of interesting and sometimes extreme diets designed to drop weight fast. Some are healthy and some are not. Intermittent fasting is one that I’d like to focus on since it’s quickly becoming a popular diet among folks in my inner circles.

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A popular trend called intermittent fasting can reset your metabolism and can help you lose weight in the short-term. This eating pattern introduces periods of fasting into your day or week, depending on which method you choose.

Instead of controlling which foods you eat, intermittent fasting dictates when you should eat. The most common fasting method uses a 16-hour fast, restricting eating to eight hours of the day. You can also fast for 24 hours once or twice a week, or limit your calorie consumption to 500 to 600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week. Most find that the 16-hour fast is the simplest way to do intermittent fasting. The whole purpose is to decrease the amount of time you’re allowed to eat in a day in hopes of reducing the amount of calories you eat. Sounds easy, right? I wonder what the research says.

A handful of human studies have shown promising short-term results of intermittent fasting, such as minimal weight loss after several months. Some have shown that insulin sensitivity improves because insulin levels in the blood decrease, making body fat readily available to burn for energy. Also with fasting, the cells of the body begin the process of cell repair. This can include getting rid of dysfunctional cells and proteins in the body. Additionally, intermittent fasting might reduce inflammation, lower bad cholesterol and improve brain function.

Unfortunately, no long-term studies have looked at sustained weight loss, or whether intermittent fasting reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease or fatty liver disease.

Some side effects of intermittent fasting have been reported, such as fatigue, irritability and strong feelings of hunger. It is common for these side effects to cause people to stop the fasting period.

Again, research on the effects of intermittent fasting is still new. If you are considering intermittent fasting, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider, especially if you are on medication for diabetes or heart disease.

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