Intermittent fasting is a relatively new health trend for weight loss. But will this dieting method be a fly by night fad? Or, does research support intermittent fasting for weight loss for the long term? Chef V weighs in (no pun intended) on intermittent fasting….
I first heard of intermittent fasting a handful of years ago while studying nutritional therapy. But over the last couple years, it seems like it’s turned into something of a health fad.
Now, when you hear the term ‘health fad,’ it might not have a good connotation. Fads come and go. Remember hot pants for weight loss? Yeah, those don’t work. Then there’s Mariah Carey’s purple diet, where she only eats foods that are purple (cabbage, berries, grapes). Sure, those foods are healthy but at the expense of denying yourself nutrients from other healthy foods. Another example of a health fad, one that I can’t wrap my head around as to how it’s still popular is the Master Cleanse (drinking nothing but water with cayenne pepper, lemon, maple syrup, for several days). Too restrictive and unhealthy! (This detox method is way more enjoyable and sane.)
As for intermittent fasting, it’s really not a fad. You see, every traditional society and religion has been practicing intermittent fasting for centuries. Religious fast days are a way to purify the spirit. And it also turns out that according to research studies, periodic fasts do indeed help with weight loss.
But before we get into what some of the research says, let’s take a look at the basics of intermittent fasting….
What is intermittent fasting?
There are a couple primary ways you can do an intermittent fast. One way is to follow the 5-2 rule. The 5-2 method of intermittent fasting is when you significantly reduce your calorie intake two days a week.
So let’s say you normally eat three normal-size meals per day five days a week. And maybe a snack or two. That’s about 2,000 calories. But two days a week on the 5-2 intermittent fast, you would only consume about 500 calories. You could have a light lunch and an Organic Green Drink and some bone broth to nourish you on intermittent fast days.
By following the 5-2 intermittent fast, you’ll be consuming 3,000 less calories per week. That translates to 12,000 calories per month. Reducing your calorie intake by that much will definitely help you lose weight. Also, eating less on the fast days will help give your digestive system a little break.
Now, the one danger with the 5-2 intermittent fast is that some people pig out the day after one of the calorie restriction days. Or, they might eat unhealthy foods several days a week, thinking that just because they’re eating less calories during the week they can eat whatever they want the other days.
Another way to do intermittent fasting is eat a normal amount every day, but go several hours in between meals. Especially important is going over 12 hours in between dinner and breakfast. In fact, some people who eat this way stress the importance of fasting at least 14 hours. And during the day, in between breakfast/lunch and lunch/dinner, you should try to go 5-6 hours without eating.
Why is it important to go several hours without eating?
In another post that discusses the topic about how often you should eat, I mention SIBO. SIBO stands for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth. It’s a condition in which the bacteria in the gut reside in your small intestine instead of your large intestine. And when you only go, say, a couple hours in between meals, you’re not giving your digestive system a chance to sweep the bacteria down the GI tract into the large intestine. Over time, this leads to bloating and weight gain.
Moreover, going several hours in between meals gives your liver and digestive system a little rest. Also, intermittent fasting helps stimulate the release of HGH. HGH stands for human growth hormone. And one of the things HGH does is help burn fat. But if you’re constantly snacking, your hypothalamus gland won’t release as much HGH into your bloodstream.
Another couple benefits of intermittent fasting: helping normalize both blood sugar levels and hunger hormones.
More health benefits of intermittent fasting
According to this peer-reviewed research article, studies show that intermittent fasting also benefits both the heart and brain. Researchers think that fasting causes your cells to undergo mild stress. And perhaps the cells during a fast are responding to the stress. Essentially, your cells are learning how to adapt and enhance their ability to deal with the stress. Another theory is that maybe cells are better able to resist disease while undergoing mild stress from a brief fast.
Here at Chef V headquarters, some of our Customer Relations Specialists have had success losing weight by going into ketosis. (Read this post to learn more.) And according to research, if you don’t eat for 10–16 hours, your body will burn fatty acids called ketones for energy. This physiological process is ketosis. Ketosis has been shown to be able to protect memory and learning functionality.
Intermittent Fasting: conclusion
The bottom line is that you should try to eat nutrient dense foods at every meal. Nutrient dense means the most amount of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with relatively few calories. For example, a 16 oz Organic Green Drink is loaded with nutrition but only contains 25 calories.
An important thing to remember with intermittent fasting is to allow yourself to cheat every once in a while and don’t be manic about it. Let’s say, for example, it’s a very cold night but it’s one of your fast days on the 5:2 diet. You’re really hungry and craving some barbecue for dinner. Listen to your body. Eat if you’re truly hungry. But after you’re satisfied go 12 or more hours before you eat breakfast to get those ketones flowing into your bloodstream.