There's a big trend going on right now in the health and dieting world (although the idea of fasting has been around for hundreds of years believe it or not) that is being implemented and it's name: Fasting. Intermittent Fasting (use the James Bond voice and that sentence will make this more dramatic and totally worth it). This type of weight loss requires severely limiting the amount of calories taken in during particular days of the week and during specific hours of the day in order to work properly. This is all meant to decrease your appetite and stimulate your body's metabolism, ultimately, resulting in a weight loss. While there are a lot of different methods people can use to initiate this, some of the more popular ones are as follows:
The 5:2 Diet: this one allows you to ingest only 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week and then eating normally the other 5 days.
Eat-Stop-Eat: this one has you fasting for a 24 hour period, 1-2 days a week (dear Lord).
The 16/8 Method (aka The Leangains method): this process has you skipping breakfast but allowing for an 8 hour period where you may eat and then fast (so for example, you may start eating at 11AM and then you would finish eating at 7PM. The other 16 hour period is strictly a fast) .
So! What are the benefits and what are the pitfalls? Let's take a look!
The Good: What's pretty awesome about these methods is that it doesn't require any calorie-counting or measuring (stuff my patients LOATHE even if they won't admit it). And let's be realistic-who wants to count their calories or make their portions smaller when they are enjoying something? A study shown in animals even displays that fasting can help improve your immune system and give reductions in inflammation. Other perks? It increases your levels of HGH, improves your insulin levels, and promotes cellular repair. All of this fab science info basically helps with the improvement of weight loss, better metabolism, brain stimulation, and decreases in aging, all resulting or stemming solely from intermittent fasting.
The Bad: So what gives? Listen: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. So here's the deal-this diet attempt is definitely NOT for everybody. First and foremost, like any other diet, it's great in the beginning but as the weeks go on and on, it becomes like anything else: BORING. Not to mention, people start to take their periods of eating for granted. For instance, just because you're allowed to eat for 8 hours in a day, does not suggest that it be an entire pie of pizza; you're still expected to eat healthy foods for that entire duration. Also, some people felt, that after a fast, they could "reward" themselves with that entire pie of pizza-NO BUENO. This completely ruins the effect of the fasting and the amount of self-control you will need to administer to go about your regular day without diving head first into a bowl of ice cream is pretty intense, especially when your body hasn't seen food in 24 hours (believe me, I've tried). Secondly, people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, low blood pressure, a history of heart disease, or poor eating habits and/or people with eating disorders should NOT undergo any types of fasting for fear of having the blood sugar or pressure go too low and the increase of electrolyte abnormalities occurring. Lastly, and unfortunately (as if we didn't have it hard enough), women are strongly suggested NOT to undergo fasting (particularly women who are pregnant, breastfeeding and/or are trying to conceive for obvious reasons). Studies have shown, that while intermittent fasting showed improvements in blood insulin in men, it actually worsened in women! (Go figure). Fasting in women has also been shown to cause infertility, have irregular menstrual cycles, and essentially, becoming emaciated and gaunt. (What the hell?!)
The Alternative: Ok! So now that we have all the facts, let's put this in perspective: as i say with everything else-ALWAYS IN MODERATION. I wouldn't suggest intermittent fasting all the time-I would rather the patient try this 1-2x a month, not just to keep things more interesting but to also allow your body to really respond to something so drastic, whilst not making any crazy changes to their bodies and lifestyle. If you have a specific medical reason NOT to engage in this type of routine, please adhere to the warnings: they're there for a reason. And always, ALWAYS contact your medical professional if you're starting to feel weak, highly fatigued, nauseous, and/or terrible discomfort or pain. Weight loss is great but not when you're risking your life for it.