Do you ever truly experience hunger and notice the stages of its development? Have you noticed that it comes in waves and after a while passes for hours. When experienced regularly it heightens awareness of the satiation and hunger cycle. Calorie restriction and intermittent fasting have both been researched as useful strategies for weight loss. However, with calorie restriction often times once the weight has come off people resume old eating habits and regain the weight. Intermittent fasting is a strategy that can be done for lifetime. So once someone has decided to use this strategy and goes through a month of eating differently for two days a week and all the self talk that takes place during that time frame, it gets easier and becomes just part of the weekly routine and doesn’t have to mean good bye to favorite foods.
Intermittent Fasting – the Fast Diet
Dr Michael Mosley, author of the Fast Diet, discusses in his book the benefits of eating 500 calories a day for women, 600 calories a day for men two days a week. He looked at many studies on the health benefits of intermittent fasting and decided to make this lifestyle change when he was diagnosed with prediabetes and high cholesterol. He started intermittent fasting and shed 19 pounds as well as greatly reduced his insulin resistance and cholesterol levels. He first considered restricting his calories but knew it would be really difficult to avoid the foods he really loved. He then looked at a lot of research on intermittent fasting and its impact on health as well as weight loss. In an interview with Huffington Post he states, “I went into this quite skeptical because I’ve looked at diets over the years and I’ve always assumed they are rubbish. But the people who study in this area are really top scientists – world class scientists who are hugely reputable in their areas. And they all were coming at it from their areas of expertise: cancer, dementia, diabetes – they were approaching it from different angles but coming to the same conclusion.”
The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
In an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it summarizes research supporting the benefits of alternate day fasting as well as calorie restriction. Both strategies improve insulin sensitivity, reduce oxidative stress, blood pressure and heart rate, as well as extend life, slow down the degeneration of neurons that leads to dementia, reduced incidence of cancer and prolonged reproductive function. Both are effective but one is more sustainable than the other. If you want to include some of your favorite foods in your diet then intermittent fasting is the way to go. It does not mean that you can eat to your hearts content on non-fasting days, but you can still enjoy that occasional burger, dessert, or fried chicken without feeling guilty. The other five non-fasting days should still be full of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and lean meats but you can enjoy a dinner out and still see the benefits of intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting – My Perspective
I have been following the intermittent fasting lifestyle for the past 5 months and love the fact that I did not gain weight over this long hard Maine winter. On my fasting days, I’ll eat a small bowl of steel cut oatmeal topped with 1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt for breakfast. For dinner I’ll have a bowl of chicken and bean soup loaded with vegetables or a 3-4 oz serving of steak, pork, chicken or fish and a huge salad, light on the dressing(mainly vinegar with a little of olive oil). I want to maintain my weight and not gain the usual middle-age waist weight. What I did not expect is how it really enhanced my appreciation for what goes in my mouth. I have changed my relationship with food and have become keenly aware of how my body reacts when it is fueled versus when it is just fed. I like the sense of control and discipline I get from the days I fast. I have more energy and I’m better about drinking water. If you have struggled with excess weight or if you would like to get your blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol under better control, why not try intermittent fasting?