What is Intermittent Fasting? Part 1

What is Intermittent Fasting and why?  

Have you ever noticed that when you’re on a restricted diet, the “forbidden” foods seem to swarm around you endlessly? Low carb? Yep, pasta, potatoes, and bread everywhere. No sugar? Absolute torture around the holidays. Vegetarian diet? Guess what’s being served for dinner tonight—prime rib and burgers, not to mention those cows on every billboard. You get the picture. It can be frustrating and difficult for even the most disciplined of people. Limited choices make us feel deprived. Flexibility in choosing foods is one of many reasons the intermittent fasting diet has gained a strong following. 

What is intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting, also known as IF, consists of set periods of time of fasting and eating. Typically, during a fast, all food is avoided with the exception of low calorie drinks and water. During times of consumption, food choices aren’t restricted but a balanced and healthy diet is still advised. Several variations of the diet exist but the most popular are:

The 5:2 Plan — 2 days a week eat less than 500 calories a day while maintaining a healthy normal diet on off days.
Alternate fasting days — every other day restrict your diet to 500 calories or less or 25% of your normal intake.
Time restricted eating (16/8 or 14/10) — Fast for 16 or 14 hours and eat within an 8 or 10 hour window. For instance, with the 16/8,  fast from 8 p.m. to 12 p.m. the next day, and eat from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The 24 hour fast — one to two days a week, fast for a full 24 hours, eating a normal diet on off days.

Of the four variations of the diet, time restricted eating is the most popular because the majority of people naturally fast while they sleep. 

What attracts people to this diet?

It’s simple—no calorie counting, no dividing food into groups, no prepackaged meals to buy. Choose the type of fast that works for you and stick with it.
Specific food groups like carbs, sugar, and fat are not excluded from the IF diet unlike others.
For some people, the concept just makes sense: in the days when we were hunters and gatherers, food was scarce and we were forced to fast for days and sometimes weeks. Proponents of IF argue that our bodies innately expect a fast and evolved to accommodate long periods without food all the way down to the cellular level. 
It’s effective: cumulative data from a total of over 40 studies concludes that over a ten week period participants on average lost 7-11 lbs.
Animal studies have suggested IF could possibly help reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer.

Interest in the IF diet is intense as scientists are beginning to uncover astounding and significant health benefits (please check out our blog:  Intermittent Fasting: Evidenced based findings reveal health benefits far exceed basic weight loss). Keep in mind, healthy food choices are still essential for this diet. If your favorite food is fried chicken and cheesecake during hours of consumption, don’t expect to lose weight. However, our crusts with your favorite toppings would be an excellent choice. 

Dieters often find they experience the most success with diets that fit into their lifestyle. If you can tolerate long stretches without food, IF might be a good choice for you. Of course, it is always advised to consult your doctor prior to beginning a diet. Good luck and please share your experiences with us!

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