When you hear the word "fasting" plus "diet" in the same sentence, you probably think of a "fad" diet.
However, there is now more and more research suggesting that having some "super low-calorie days," or "fasting," mixed with a normal eating plan could improve your health.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a strategically planned and occasional "starvation." If you cycle periods of regular eating with fasting, you will severely restrict your calorie intake.
This is not a "one size fits all" approach to fasting. Some people will fast for hours. Some may choose to fast for a full day. Some may fast for even longer.
There is a lot of "star power" to this diet from Hugh Jackman to Jimmy Kimmel, along with Beyoncé, Justin Theroux, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, and more.
One of the more commonly known fasting systems is the 5:2 diet. This means restricting calories for two non-consecutive days a week and eating without calorie restraints on the other five days. Jimmy Kimmel did the 5:2 diet.
Hugh Jackman, to get in shape for his role as Wolverine in 2013, did a 16:8 diet. He fasted for 16 hours and then only ate within an 8-hour window.
Fasting can affect both your cell and hormone function. This may improve your overall health and extend your life, according to several studies and evolving research.
Periodic or "intermittent" fasting was linked to lower risks of the following in a 2019 published study in Cell Metabolism.
Many cells "die" and stem cells become "activated" which starts a process of "regeneration."
This "regeneration" process gives rise to new, younger cells, or something called "autophagy."
Autophagy allows the "orderly degradation and recycling of cellular components."
Studies have shown that intermittent fasting may do the following.
Decrease the "bad" cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
Stabilize blood sugar levels through improved insulin resistance.
These are all good things to aim for—and can also be achieved with many other balanced approaches to diet.
Any restrictive diet obviously should be under the guidance of a medical professional—especially if there are medical comorbidities or medications taken for a condition such as diabetes.
Determine with a trained healthcare professional in nutrition which approach system makes sense for you and your lifestyle.
It can help with weight loss, however, the results will differ for everyone.
An intermittent fasting program may lead to weight loss. However, intermittent fasting is not a practical or sustainable long-term solution for everyone.
Eating time does not mean binge. It does not mean consuming enough calories for a long winter hibernating. It means to think and make wise choices.
Here is a novel idea.
Instead of an "extreme" and "elimination-based" dietary approach, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.
Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy.
At this time, the long-term effects of fasting diets aren't well understood. Research completed has been over shorter time frames along with a lack of human studies.
Here are some thoughts from a Gastroenterologist ...choose healthy calories and add whole-food-based nutrients. Avoid an extreme, "all-or-nothing" approach to eating...or in life for that matter.