The latest craze in dieting isn’t about eating certain foods, it’s about eating no foods – for a while, at least.
Intermittent fasting can, and probably will, help you lose weight. The caloric restriction that results when you skip meals or restrict the amount of time you eat will most likely create an energy deficit, leading to weight loss. Of course, any diet that helps you restrict calories will almost always help with weight loss.
For example, a recent study that compared one group of intermittent fasters using the 5:2 method with a group of non-fasting dieters that ate the same amount of calories with no time restriction found there was no difference in the weight lost between the groups. However, that same study also found that the participants taking part in intermittent fasting reported higher hunger scores than the group on a nonfasting diet. In my experience, if you are hungry day after day while on a diet, the chances of being able to follow your diet in the long term dramatically decrease.
Can intermittent fasting improve overall health?
Outside of weight loss, there have been some preliminary studies on mice that have shown that intermittent fasting has the potential to improve lipid levels and extend life independent of weight loss. Of course, this potential means little to nothing until it can be demonstrated in human studies.
Depending on which type of fasting you choose, there are potential risks of dehydration and constipation, as well as nutrient deficiencies. So if you’re thinking of trying intermittent fasting, consult your dietitian to discuss the best approach.
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