Intermittent Fasting has been getting a lot of attention in recent years. Those following this diet alternate between periods of fasting and periods of eating without limitations. This diet does not focus on healthy food choices or healthy eating habits in any way. It’s all about timing.
I’m just going to say it like it is.
Because you just have got to know The Truth.
There are no shortcuts or magic pills when it comes to long lasting weight loss. None.
If something sounds too good to be true, guess what? It is!
Over the years, so many diet fads have surfaced, gained popularity to the point that people swore by them, and then (with all their “magical” powers) disappeared! Ever wonder why?
Aside from potential health complications that may be associated with some of these fads, the fact is that they are simply NOT SUSTAINABLE.
The only way (you heard that- the only way!) to lose weight safely and effectively for the long haul is to reduce the number of calories you eat, make healthy food choices, and be physically active.
This is not always as simple as it sounds, for other factors in life can stand in our way. That is why help is out there! You are not alone!
Let’s discuss intermittent fasting and the potential risks and benefits associated with it. Of course, people see some positive results- otherwise this “diet” wouldn’t have gained its popularity! However, the cons triumph the pros, as per scientific evidence.
The Hypothesis of Intermittent Fasting
When you don’t supply your body with the nutrients it needs for its daily energy, it will be forced to resort to utilizing the energy it has stored- fat! To prevent the body from going into ‘starvation mode’ (where the body works to conserve all energy stores and weight loss comes to a standstill), this diet suggests that you constantly flip between eating and fasting.
The reason people are drawn to the diet is that without changing the foods or portion sizes one is accustomed to, one can hope to shed some pounds and extra belly fat.
And sometimes, they do.
Essentially, these dieters most probably are eating less calories on this diet, so they most probably will lose some weight. (Remember, cutting calories= reducing weight.)
So, why don’t most Dietitians support Intermittent Fasting?
- A) A theme that we cannot stress enough is avoiding diets that are not sustainable! Often, when a person loses a lot of weight on hard-to-sustain diet, as soon as they resume to normal eating habits, they gain back the weight. And some. And some more. Emotional eating issues then arise because of unnecessary restricting.
- B) This diet focuses on the timing of food intake, but not the quality or quantity of it. Doesn’t something smell a little bit fishy about being on a diet that allows you to eat a bucketful of fried chicken, 10 pints of ice cream, 2 gallons soda, 5 servings of fries, (okay, you get the picture…) in one day and then fast the next day to ‘cancel’ it all out?!
A true healthy lifestyle focuses on proper food choices and portion sizes. Losing a few pounds because you starve yourself every other day does not constitute living a healthy lifestyle, and in fact, can put your body in a state of stress, leading to further medical complications.
This is especially dangerous when a person goes off the diet (because of the sustainability- see point A), they may continue eating the foods they are used to, in large quantities.
Here is the truth.
- C) Ideally, when fasting, the body will use fat stores as a source of energy. However, studies have shown that it’s not only fat stores that get used- it’s muscle stores as well.
Seeing the numbers drop on the scale may be encouraging, but how does it feel to know that the weight loss is coming from muscle loss?
Furthermore, the more lean muscle mass a person has, the easier it is for them to lose weight. Losing muscles mass can negatively impact a person’s metabolism and inhibit plans of future weight loss. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn sitting down…therefore, the more weight loss you see just from keeping your muscular composition!
If you aren’t convinced yet, we’ve got some more reasons coming!
- D) Intermittent Fasting can cause one to have an unhealthy (pun intended!) relationship with food. During the starving periods, one’s thoughts will quite often revolve around food. During the eating periods, they tend to overeat.
This pattern can cause a person’s thoughts to be fixated on food. Unfortunately, this relationship with food may not simply disappear when the diet is discontinued.
- E) Studies have found that intermittent fasting can lead to insulin resistance, placing people at a greater risk for diabetes.
- F) Some studies link fasting the production of free radicals in the body. This oxidative stress can raise one’s risk for serious health complications such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and neurodegeneration.
If you still want to try out this diet, ask yourself: Are you simply looking for an easy way to achieve weight loss?
Schedule an appointment at Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition and we will develop a personalized weight loss plan that will work for you. It will be achievable and sustainable.
We’ll make sure you don’t spend hours on end, tummy growling, dreaming about the bucketful of fried chicken you’re going to break your fast on.
Call 609-738-3143 to see how we can help you!
Malky Shafran, Dietetic Intern
University of Northern Colorado Distance Dietetic Internship Program
Michele Wroblewski, RDN
Caruso Physical Therapy and Nutrition, LLC
1278 Yardville Allentown Rd. Suite 3
Allentown, NJ 08501