Intermittent Fasting 101

Intermittent fasting is one of the hottest nutrition trends right now. In my 15 years in this industry, I have seen a lot of trends come and go. It seems like there is a new weight loss trend every year that takes are country by storm. This is because people are always looking for the next way to get results because most people are on a constant diet roller coaster. The answer doesn’t come from the next hot trend but comes from consistently doing what works for you (this is a topic for another blog, but I had to put that out there). As the keto craze is starting to fade, the intermittent fasting craze is gaining momentum. Do I see this as another fad that will eventually fade away? Yes… but, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in the benefits of intermittent fasting. In fact, I highly believe in the health benefits, and weight loss benefits of it. However, it is not for everyone, so you need to do what works for you personally. I am going to do a basic breakdown of intermittent fasting. I will have a much deeper, in-depth guest blog about intermittent fasting written by a good friend of mine who is a registered nutrition therapist coming out in the near future. However, here are the basics of intermittent fasting!

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles through periods of eating, and periods of not eating (aka, fasting). With basic intermittent fasting, it doesn’t matter what kind of foods you are eating, but when you are actually eating. There are many different theories of how long you should be fasting while practicing intermittent fasting. Some common fasting intervals are 12 hours, 16 hours, and even 24 hours.

Intermittent Fasting History

Intermittent fasting has been around since the dawn of mankind. It is believed that it originally started unintentionally when hunters and gathers would go periods of time without finding food. It was said that the fasting periods would increase their concentration and alertness (I guess they would have to concentrate more on getting food, or they would starve to death). It was adopted into early cultures as a part of religious ceremonies, building strength and self-discipline. Intermittent fasting has been around from the beginning of time, but it just recently becomes popular as a means for weight loss.

What are the benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is now being studied more in-depth to research the health benefits of it. It is also being researched as a weight loss “diet.” In reality, it is not a diet since you are not eliminating anything from your diet, just restricting the times that you are eating. Intermittent fasting can lead to more focus and energy. “Intermittent fasting kicks off a set of processes in the body, as the release of more Norepinephrine, an organic chemical in the catecholamine family that functions in the brain and body as a hormone and neurotransmitter, giving the person practicing the fast more energy, alertness, and focus.” (1) It is being used as a weight-loss “diet,” and the theory behind it is that you are restricting the number of calories you are eating in a day, but not eating for a good portion of it. By lowering the calories that you consume, your body will need to find other sources of energy like fat and muscle. This is only true if you eat normally after fasting. If you overindulge and eat high-calorie meals during your times of eating, the weight loss benefits will not be there. “Experts from Harvard have found that by manipulating mitochondrial networks inside cells — either by dietary restriction or by genetic manipulation that mimics it — a person could increase their lifespan and help promote health.” (1)

Should you practice Intermittent Fasting?

The short answer is yes… but, that is only if it can work for your lifestyle. There is still not enough research on the topic to incorporate into everyone’s life. Just because it has worked for our ancient ancestors, that doesn’t mean it will work for us (don’t get me started on the theory that since cavemen ate mostly meat, we should only eat meat in our life… we do know that the average lifespan of a caveman was only 30 years, right?) However, I do believe in the benefits of implementing intermittent fasting into your life. If it is something that can be sustainable, that makes you feel good, and gets you results; there is nothing out there that says it will hurt you. Since there are many ways to incorporate intermittent fasting, I would recommend speaking to a registered Dietician or Nutritionist before implementing any diet changes into your life.