Does the thought of not eating at least 3 times of day leaving you thinking you’ll feel like this?Fasting has become popular a method for dramatic weight loss, but is it the best option for you?Before we go down the road of the different types …

Does the thought of not eating at least 3 times of day leaving you thinking you’ll feel like this?

Fasting has become popular a method for dramatic weight loss, but is it the best option for you?

Before we go down the road of the different types of fasting, what does the science say about skipping meals?

Let’s start with the extreme:

  • We can live an average of 3 days without water (up to 5-6 days) 

  • We can survive roughly 8-21 days without food (up to 2 months)

  • Each of the above are still very individualized limits

Extended fasting is possible with inpatient (in-hospital) medical supervision and support.  The story of Angus gives hope to those that fasting is possible with the proper mindset, and medical support even for those that are desiring to lose large amounts of weight/fat.

Types of fasting:

16/8 – Fast for 16 hours, eating window of 8 hours.  This method has been typically described by skipping breakfast and not eating anything after dinner.  The eating window often is prescribed as 12-8pm.

5:2 – Eat normally 5 days per week, then dramatically reduce calories on 2 days per week.  Suggestions for caloric intake on the “2” days – 500 (women) – 600 (men) calories per day.  This method does not take into account height, weight, activity level, metabolic health/illness, or hormonal differences/damage.

Eat Stop Eat – Eat normally 5-6 days per week, and complete a 24-hour fast 1-2 days per week.  No-calorie liquids (water, coffee, tea) are allowed, but no food or broths are allowed.  Full 24-hour fasts can be difficult, especially if you have prescribed medications that must be taken with food.

Alternate Day Fasting – Just as it sounds.  Alternate days of eating and not eating (or minimal calories).  There are several approaches to calorie recommendations.

The Warrior Diet – This was popularized by Ori Hofmekler.  To follow this method, eat a small amount of raw fruits or veggies during the early morning and afternoon, then eat a very calorie-dense dinner.  It has been referred to as “Fast then Feast”.

The Bottom Line

Fasting has become a diet trend with positive results for many, but not everyone.

One problem I repeatedly see with clients and patients trying intermittent fasting is the fasting window.  This ‘window’ in which they eat is often pushed to the latter part of the day.  Many internet searches will advise eating from 11 am – 7 pm or 12 pm – 8 pm.  Having such concrete times – that are so close to bedtime – doesn’t always work.

If this window option works for you – GREAT!

To risk sounding like a broken record, one approach doesn’t work for everyone.  

If you are inclined to try fasting or intermittent fasting specifically, you may need to trial different windows.  

For example:  I have found many women don’t see a difference in weight, energy, or mood with the traditional window of 11-7 (or 12-8), but when that ‘feeding window’ is moved to 8-4 (or 9-5), the unwanted pounds start melting away.  

Why is this?

Multiple reasons might be responsible:

  • Hormones

  • Stress levels

  • Activity level and timing

  • Work schedule

  • Sleep patterns (more info on better sleep here

  • Foods being consumed

  • Meal sizes

Ultimately, a trial of different styles of fasting may need to occur.  Fasting (intermittent or otherwise) does not work for everyone.  

Overall health is more important than a 6-pack.  Having the body you want may come at a higher price.  Metabolic damage can occur when the body is starved of nutrients.  When metabolic damage is already present, fasting may not be the wisest choice.  For more help on choosing what works for you, click here.

What does the research report?

As of 2017, there are no scientific studies that show a statistical significant difference in fasting vs traditional dieting methods.

“Although there are no large, randomized control trials examining the relationship between intermittent fasting and cardiovascular outcomes, current human studies suggest this diet could reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease with improvement in weight control, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes.” [REF]