Dieting Trends: Intermittent Fasting
By: Serena Patel
I’m sure you’ve heard of this diet trend lately - intermittent fasting. While it has been gaining more media coverage lately, it isn’t new. It is one of the oldest health techniques.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t faint or die if you skip a meal. It doesn’t make you anorexic or unhealthy if you practice it in the right way. You can also control being “hangry.”
I have read so many articles about intermittent fasting (Healthline, Harvard Health Publishing, etc.) and have come up with my own conclusions and variations after months of doing it. I can say its benefits supersede most other dieting or general nutrition techniques I previously practiced. I started fasting 6 months ago and recently had my mom and boyfriend try it, and they love it and have both lost weight since.
So how does intermittent fasting work? There are actually a few different ways. Please know these are my own methods and interpretations. There is a ton of varying opinions online on how to do each way.
Eat within an 8-hour window each day. You can set the time frame. I usually do 10 am to 6 pm. My boyfriend does 12 pm to 8 pm. It’s okay to shift the time here and there depending on your schedule (if I know I have a late dinner reservation, I’ll start my time later in the day).
During the 16 hours you are fasting, you can have herbal teas and water. I’ve read many articles saying you can and can’t have black coffee during that time. I try not to when I can help it, but if I’m exhausted that day I’ll have the black coffee. It’s only 5 calories and an appetite suppressant, so I don’t beat myself up over it.
I have also read in a few articles that you can have 1-2 cheat days a week where your time frame is longer than 8 hours. I usually save these days for nights I’ll be out late into the night.
For 5 days you eat “anything,” and for 2 days you limit your intake to less than 500 calories a day. This is Jimmy Kimmel’s infamous weight-loss strategy. I put quotes around anything because you technically can eat anything even though you probably shouldn’t be if you’re trying to lose weight.
If you need help to track your calorie intake on for the 2 days, I recommend using the app MyFitnessPal. You can add in almost any food, ingredients to homemade recipes, scan barcodes, or look up items by the restaurant. They even have Indian food on it, it’s incredible.
Do a 24-hour fast 1-2 days a week. This sounds a lot harder than it is. If you don’t think you can do it, you can start with the 8-hour windows (16-hour fast) and work up to 24-hours later. A 24-hour can still mean you eat once each day. I start mine after lunch on Day 1 (starting my fast time or done eating by 1 pm), and then I have a late lunch and dinner on Day 2 (eating after 1 pm). You will still have energy and can even work out during that time.
There is a ton of benefits - the primary reason for most people being weight loss.
To explain the weight loss, simply when you are eating and snacking throughout the day, your body is focused on breaking down that food even hours after it’s been consumed. If you haven’t eaten in a while, your body will eventually break down your fat for energy instead.
Other benefits include increased energy, cellular repair, lowers bad cholesterol, improves memory and brain function, etc. There are so many benefits and scientific evidence backing it up - just Google it.
I have found that intermittent fasting has promoted healthier eating habits. I am more conscious about what I am putting in my body after fasting. I don’t eat to just eat anymore. I still try to remain healthy when I am in my 8-hour time frame so the food doesn’t make me groggy after. I’ve learned that when I am comfortably full, it’s okay to stop and pack up the leftovers for later - even if it’s amazing.
I have definitely seen a reduction in my bloating, especially around the time of my period when it’s usually the worst. Even though people say I am already skinny, I know my body. I know when my gut is looking bigger or I’m feeling heavier. I know that my metabolism is slowing and that one day it won’t be what it was. I want to prepare for it. I now see my results from workouts faster. Fasting has made me feel healthier and happier.
Obviously, this is not for people with medical conditions, women who are pregnant, etc.