Today I will be sharing a guest post from fellow Ontario dietitian Andy De Santis. Andy is a dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition and has a master’s degree in public health. I highly recommend you follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Although the act of fasting (going for an extended period of time without food and/or drink) is essentially an ancient phenomenon, it is starting to gain a whole lot of attention these days as a trendy weight loss strategy. For those that may not have heard of it, intermittent fasting comes in a variety of forms but essentially involves fasting ( not eating) for an extended period of time for a few days of the week and ultimately consuming significantly less calories on those days while eating more normally for the rest of the week.
Intermittent fasting is often lauded as a novel (it’s not) and advanced (not really) weight loss strategy that offers a variety of additional health benefits (it doesn’t). In reality though, it is just a unique manner of restricting your calorie intake, very much like any other weight loss strategy.
There are certain people that may be predisposed to success with such a technique because it provides very strict parameters to follow ( ie: not eating for the majority of the day, multiple days a week). For that same reason, it may be less appealing to others. But, what does the highest quality evidence say about the effectiveness of intermittent fasting?
In a nut shell
Intermittent fasting has the potential to produce weight loss results similar to other more conventional weight loss approaches, but it is no better than standard weight loss plans ( ie: consistent calorie reduction) and there is no strong evidence that it provides any additional health benefits beyond those associated with losing weight.
What does this mean for you?
- If not eating for an extended period of time for a few days a week sounds like a dietary approach that you would like to attempt, intermittent fasting may be effective for you.
- It may be worth a shot if you have struggled to lose weight using conventional weight management strategies.
- There is little to no real high quality long term data on intermittent fasting, so obviously the long term effectiveness, practicality and the sustainability of the approach have not been verified.
- At the end of the day, modest and prolonged caloric intake is a cornerstone of weight management and intermittent fasting just offers you a different way to do it.
- It is no more effective than eating less every day, but it is certainly a different approach that may work better for some people who enjoy the strict structure.
- The only thing I would note is that if you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, which is contingent on regularity and consistency in your dietary intake, you should not attempt this approach without consulting your health care team. Other than that, it is not shown to be harmful to healthy adults.