Editorial: Intermittent fasting

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Insight into an new problem with an old solution.

Fasting Scale
Fasting Scale

Good day! I am going to try something new. I was reading a research article on intermittent fasting. I have tried it in the past but never serious thought it was a worthy method. Something finally clicked today. I looked back at collage and how I was much slimmer. It occurred to me that I never ate breakfast. I rolled out of bed and went to class. Wait, I never ate past dinner time and I ate my first meal of the day at 11 am to noon. That is a form of intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is currently one of the most popular weight loss trends in the United States. If you go to your local book store, you can find hundreds of books on the topic. Many dieters are using it to lose weight, improve their health. The basic fact is it might simply your life and make weight loss occur without calorie counting and measuring portion sizes.

I have written several article on the research behind it. The fact is that it extremely well studies and the studies that have been done have show that fasting is not only effective at inducing weight loss, fasting is safe for nearly everyone, but non-the-less should be discussed with a medical provider. Heck, research has even show that fasting might help you live longer (if it results in less calories oonsumed) and fasting prevents some disease.

It seems so perfect, why is everyone not fasting? First, fasting is sort of extreme dieting. It is harsh and not easy to perform for many folks. No everyone can tolerate the extended periods without food. Second, there is a taboo associated with it. Some view is with a skeptic eye like it might be some sort of eating disorder. I was one of these folks till the light came on last week.

So, what is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating. Instead of restricting certain foods, you limit the number of hours you can consume food during the day. It is sort like a curfew from eating. Like a curfew limits the time you allow you teenager to go out at night, intermittent fasting has periods in which you are allowed to eat. The fasting periods are 12-16 hours in duration. Some fast during the day, but obviously, fasting while you are asleep is easier.

Are there different types fo fasting? Yes. There are several different ways of doing fasting. Intermittent is just one of them and it has multiple methods itself. All fasting methods involve abstaining from eating for a period. All intermittent fasting involves splitting the day or week into eating and fasting periods. During the fasting periods, you eat either very little or nothing at all, but you can have as much water as you need.

Methods of fasting:

  1. Full fast: This method is where you cut all food but are allowed to drink water. I call this method the “hunger strike”. It is the most difficult to sustain and I would argue that it is not health. People do this for a number of days.
  2. Old 24 hour fast: You fast for 24 hours. It is also know as eat-stop-eat method. This typ fo fasting is from one meal period to another. For example, you eat breakfast today and will not eat again until the same time tomorrow with the same meal. It takes serious self discipline to avoid eating for 24 hours.
  3. Day-light fasting: Fasters or dieters avoid eating when the sun is up. This method is also know as the Dusk-to-Dawn or Warrior method. It can be one fo the harsher methods because dieters are suck watching others eat during the day. The Dusk-to-Dawn method is commonly used is in religion.
  4. The 16/8 method: The method is also called the Leangains protocol. The protocol involves skipping a meal and limiting your daily eating period to 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours. This method is likely the easier.
  5. The 5:2 diet: This method involves days fasting split by days eating. Fasters consume only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days. It can be milder, but it can be also easer to slip up because people lose track of which days they need to fast and often push the fast days to another day. A day. Delayed is a day denied.
  6.  Meal skipping: This method of fasting can be planned or spontaneous. The human body is able to go without foods without harm, but this can be tough to maintain psychologically. This method can be an easy method of fasting if you can avoid over eating on the next meal.
  7. Food limitation fasts: Some will modify fasting to cut certain foods. I do not consider this a fast, but many religions do. A example is no meat one Friday.

How does intermittent fasting work? The goal with any diet to to create a calorie deficit. By reducing the hours you consume food, it should create a calorie deficit as long as you don’t strap on the feed bag and eat excessively during the eating periods. With fasting, compensating calorie intake during the eating period can cause weight gain.

So what am I going to do? Many people find 16/8 fasting to be the simplest, most sustainable, and best tolerated so that is where I am going to start. It’s also the most popular. I am going to fast at night with a 16 hour fast period. My first meal will be at 1100 or 11 am and my last will end by 1800 or 6 pm. I am going to try to increase my protein to 30-40% and limit my carbohydrates 30% with mostly unprocessed. I will also ensure 30 grams of fiber per day. I will post an update every 1-2 days to keep me honest.

Why would anyone resort to such a severe method? For me, it just makes sense right now. I realized that my weight went up when I started eating breakfast every day after college. Sure, in college, I could nor afford breakfast everyday, but now, may waist can afford it either. It is time for a change. People sure to fasting when they are at whits end or it is match’s their lifestyle pattern. I am in the latter.

The bottom line: Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, but it safe, and effective. It makes perfect sense. Sleep and hydration are essential. Intermittent fasting is great for some, but for others, it might be a disaster. The only way to find out which group you belong to is to try it out.There is no one-size-fits-all diet, so if you find yourself over eating after a fast, pick another method. I am going to try and reduce my sugar intake. I am taking it on the chin for the team and will post update so stay tuned.

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About the Author

ChuckH
I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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