Dieting, the intermittent fasting way
Intermittent fasting – which juggles days of small, low-cal meals with days of eating foods you like – has been getting a lot of attention lately, because it not only helps people lose weight, but also improves their health.
1. Is as effective as continuous calorie restriction, but it doesn’t leave you feeling deprived.
2. Live longer – and healthier. Some research, including a recent study from the UK, found that restricting calories may add a few extra years to your life.
3. For those with type 2 diabetes, many see a reduction in A1c levels equal to continuous calorie restrictions because fasting periods use up blood glucose stores and turn to fat for energy.
1. The most common form of intermittent fasting is the 5:2 diet. Two days a week, calories are restricted to 400 to 600 calories including at least 50 grams of protein and plenty of liquids, spread out over two 250-300 calorie meals. The other five days, eat as usual, but within reason. (No boxes of Krispy Kreme’s, for example!)
2. 5:2 is not the only type of intermittent fasting. One version of the diet plan calls for eating during a specific window of time each day, such as 12 hours of food consumption followed by 12 hours of fasting.
3. Other types of fasting include three weeks of normal eating followed by a week of restrictive eating, or periodic fasting, which involves fasting for five days, four times a year, as a way to jump-start healthy seasonal eating.
4. Exercising before you break your fast helps burn fat because you’re burning ketones (fat stores) rather than blood glucose.
1. Current clinical data is based upon small study pool, but the results are pretty promising. In addition to lost pounds, fasting could play a role in reducing oxidative stress that can lead to disease, according to the National Institute on Aging.
2. A 2016 study found that intermittent fasting for more than 13 hours a night could reduce the risk factors for breast cancer. The research, which suggests that glucose may have an impact on cancer cells, appeared in JAMA Oncology.
3. Studies have also shown that intermittent fasting may offer neurological benefits, not only boosting the brain’s ability to deal with stress, but also because fasting increases the generation of new brain cells, protecting cognitive function.
1. Those with type 2 diabetes need to be careful if they are taking insulin or sulfonylurea drugs to control their blood sugar, because glucose levels can drop during fasting periods. Adjusting meds can reduce the risk, but talk to your doctor first.
Intermittent fasting is easier to follow for some than continuous calorie restriction because it allows days of eating that won’t leave you feeling deprived.