“I want to do Intermittent Fasting!” – Client
“Ok, tell us more about that. Why is this something you are interested in trying?” – K & F
“Well, my friend did it and lost 15lbs.” – Client
Any sentence that starts with “because my friend did it” is probably not the ideal answer.
Like your mother always told you, if your friends jumped nude into a pit of corn on the cob, would you do it too? Oh, your mom never said that, weird. Well either way, if it sounds like an absurd idea, you should probably think long and hard about the whys!
Just like those jumping on the Keto bandwagon, Intermittent Fasting (IF) has some claims to fame that has people wanting to hop aboard–but are these claims as sexy as they seem?
IF, is it legit or nah?
If you are reading this, you are probably someone who is health conscious and has experimented with various diets and health trends. Or perhaps you’ve tried everything under the sun to no avail, and this is just another notch on the ol’ belt.
IF generally means that you are consuming your calories during a specific window of the day, most often 16 hours fasting, and 8 hours eating. However, the name is perhaps misleading because generally speaking, a fast is usually something that lasts at least 24 hours. Similarly, and perhaps more aptly named is the concept of Time Restricted Feeding (TRF) coined by leading researcher Dr. Satchin Panda. Which essentially just means restricting the feeding window in which you eat every day.
But lets cut to the chase, is the hype real?
As always, the answer is…IT DEPENDS.
Time Restricted Feeding (TRF) CAN be beneficial to certain populations, such as those with metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and can be a great approach to eating for shift workers.
Some of the health claims include weight loss, insulin control, cardiovascular health, decreased risk of metabolic syndrome and cancer, and increased life expectancy.
BUT, if you are looking for weight loss, this is not a magic solution. There is nothing fucking magical about eating all your calories within an 8-hour window!
All this means is that instead of spreading your meals throughout your long ass day, you are eating everything in a tiny little window, essentially making yourself more full and feeling like you get to eat more food in a shorter timeframe.
YOU GUYS….it’s calorie restriction, not wizardry. Simply put, this is just another form of quantity control.
You are still eating the same amount of calories, however, you have just put strict non-negotiable guidelines on yourself, essentially removing the margin of error (aka, the chance that you will eat all your food for the day by 10am and then go over your caloric intake because by 2:30pm you’re ready to eat your arm off).
This is a decent solution if you are someone who finds abstaining easier than moderation. It’s also a really great strategy for those who work shifts and are up-all night and often spend more time awake than sleeping.
You know what sucks though…waiting all morning to eat! You know what also sucks…not getting to eat anything after 6pm!!!
Is counting down the minutes until you finally get to break your fast a healthy mindset? Wouldn’t it just be easier to get your metabolism to a place where you can eat plenty of food that supports your lifestyle and activity level?
Once again, this is really a question of personal preference and lifestyle more than anything else. If this strategy is one that will help you control your food quantity and live a better life, perhaps it is something to experiment with.
Their can definitely be benefits to IF or TRF and it can be great for certain populations. If health and longevity is your only goal, and performance is not one of them, this can also a worthwhile pursuit. For those who work gruelling shifts, figuring out a schedule that includes fasting is a smart strategy.
BUT, at the end of the day, know the why behind your actions. If weight loss and calorie restriction is the goal, then maybe hire a nutrition coach who can help you reach your goals, find a strategy that is practical and works best for your lifestyle, and can help hold you accountable.