Lately, popularized by social media, intermittent fasting (IF) has become one of the biggest dieting fads. People are losing weight, dropping dress sizes, and loving the results. Some swear by it. Some hate it. Are you missing out on the answer to weight loss, or is this just another fad that is going to burn out before moving onto the next biggest fad? The answer is a little complicated. Let’s first dive into what intermittent fasting is before you jump onboard with the IF crew.
First off, what is IF? It is limiting your eating window to 8 hours per day, and sometimes less. This means that you are typically fasting anywhere from 14 to up to 18 hours per day. For example, if you eat your last meal at 9pm (bedtime snack), you will not consume your first meal the next day until 1pm, creating a 16 hour fasting window.
IF has gained its’ popularity in the general public the last few years, being heavily promoted as a way to finally lose weight by social media creators. But, in all reality, it has been studied and used for the last few decades. A man by the name of Dr. Jim Stoppani has been one of the main proponents of this style of eating for years, as it has had its’ application in the bodybuilding world as well.
So, does it really work?
Absolutely. IF is an effective tool in losing weight, and it has been shown to do so in scientific studies over and over again.
Would I recommend it to one of my clients?
Maybe. Although IF does seem to have benefits in weight loss, I do think there are potentially a few drawbacks for IF that may lead to problems by its’ followers:
Sticking to the fasting window, EVEN ON THE WEEKENDS!
One of the hardest parts of the IF way of eating is sticking to the fasting window consistently. In order for you to know if it is actually working, you have to follow the window consistently. I see people fall off most on the weekends, as we tend to either wake up later than normal, or have breakfast with family socially, and so forth. If you are going to commit to IF, you have to commit to the weekends as well.
Not overeating during the feeding window
When you have been fasting for 16 hours, you obviously are going to get hungry. This is one of the problems a lot of people have with IF, or even with their diet in general. People tend to let themselves get too hungry, and then we overeat. It should be noted that in order for IF to work, you still have to be in a calorie deficit, just like any other weight loss diet.
IF your schedule doesn’t allow for it, don’t do it
Some people work odd schedules. They go to bed late, get up early, whatever it may be. With IF, or any diet for that matter, make sure it is something that is sustainable in your own day to day schedule, or you will fall off. It should be work, but it shouldn’t be to the point where it doesn’t fit into your daily routine at all.
Should I do Intermittent Fasting?
This is a decision that you should really look at, think about, and decide if you are ready for that commitment. IT is a mere tool to help you get to your goals, and that’s exactly how it should be viewed: a tool. It isn’t the end all be all. Start with a balanced approach, and be consistent in your diet. There are so many diets, fads, and other ways to lose weight out there. Some are great methods, and some are terrible fads that shouldn’t be touched.
The important thing is to look at your lifestyle, see what is realistic for you, and go for it. Everyone is going to be different, but in order to lose weight, you HAVE TO BE IN A CALORIC DEFICIT. It doesn’t matter how you get there, whether IF, Keto, Paleo, Carnivore, Flexible Dieting, Cucumber (Nevermind, this one is stupid; don’t do it. Cucumbers for every meal. Doesn’t even make sense. Mini rant on that over.). What matters is that you find a sustainable way for yourself to maintain that calorie deficit, and you will get the results you want. Talk to your trainer or nutritionist about whether or not IF is right for you, and if it is a bust or a must!
By: Ryan McIvor