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INTERMITTENT FASTING as a DIET PLAN

THE BASICS

First of all, I will be using the word “diet” as an eating regimen, not as a restriction of food. Intermittent fasting is about when we eat, not what we eat.

We will, however, lose weight by intermittent fasting, so the “diet” plan will achieve the results that we want when we say we are “going on a diet”. The difference is that we do not reach a weight goal and then stop with intermittent fasting. It is more a lifestyle.

Intermittent fasting suppresses our appetites, which works better than restricting what we can eat.

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Mark Mattson has studied intermittent fasting for 25 years. Per Dr. Mattson, our bodies have evolved to go without food for many hours, even days.

Dr. Mattson speaks of how we were hunters and gatherers before we learned to farm. At that time, we would go without food for days. This was by necessity. It took a while to hunt game and to find nuts and berries.

There have also been more recent changes in our culture. 50 years ago, more people worked and played outside. There were no computers or all night television shows.

We got more exercise then. Currently, we may chat Online or watch television into the wee hours, often snacking during this time.

This post will describe the benefits of intermittent fasting and the reasons for its recognition and endorsement by many health practitioners.

Intermittent fasting is simply choosing regular times to eat and to fast.

IS THIS HEALTHY?

Yes, it is healthy!

After hours without food, our bodies exhaust our sugar stores and start to burn fat.

Dr, Mattson calls this metabolic switching. He says “If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and they’re not exercising, then every time they eat, they’re running on those calories and not burning fat stores”.

Intermittent fasting prolongs the period when your body has burned through the calories consumed during your last meal and is now burning fat.

In the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Mattson spoke of health benefits, such as a longer life, a leaner body and a sharper mind.

Research showed these fasting benefits:

  • Better thinking and memory – verbal memory in adult humans and work memory in animals
  • Heart health – improved blood pressure and resting heart rate
  • Physical performance – young men had fat loss and maintained muscle mass. Mice showed better endurance in running.
  • Diabetes and obesity – intermittent fasting prevented diabetes in animals and resulted in weight loss in humans
  • Tissue health – a reduction in tissue damage in surgery was shown in animals

Johns Hopkins dietitian Christie Williams, M.S., R.D.N., tells us that some people should not try intermittent fasting:

  • Children and teens under 18
  • Women who are pregnant or breast feeding
  • People with diabetes or blood sugar issues
  • Those with a history of eating disorders

As with any physical change that we are considering, it is always important to check with your primary care physician first.

MY EXPERIENCE

I began intermittent fasting a couple of years ago. This developed quite naturally, as I wanted to finish my morning workout before breakfast. Very soon, I was fasting until noon without realizing that this was intermittent fasting.

Later, I read up on it and understood what I was doing. I was fasting from 6:00 pm until noon the next day, 18 hours.

This was very near the most recommended fasting method, which is 16:8, though I was doing 18:6.

My prior article speaks of my experience with intermittent fasting.

Briefly, I have found these results:

  • Loss of 20 pounds
  • Better enjoyment of the food I eat
  • Better sleep
  • Improved blood pressure

No headaches or hunger issues from this at all!  My blood tests have been good. I am most likely healthier for other reasons that I don’t understand. I know that I feel better.

I am not “on a diet” and never thought of intermittent fasting as a diet, as we traditionally think of diets. A diet plan? Yes.

Continuing with my workouts was not a problem and I developed more muscle definition.

QUOTES AND A VIDEO

First the quotes:

“Fasting is the single greatest natural healing therapy. It is nature’s ancient, universal remedy for many problems” – Elson Haas, M.D.

“I assert that fasting is the most efficient means for correcting any disease” – Adolph Mayer, M.D.

“Fasting is a calming experience. It is restful….relieves anxiety and tension. It is rarely depressing and is often downright exhilarating” – Alan Cott, M.D.

“Your body has two fuel sources: food and stored food. You’re switching them when you fast” – Dr. Jason Fung

“Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle. It isn’t something that you start today and then end when you get to some arbitrary goal weight. Something you start and then stop is a DIET. Intermittent fasting isn’t a diet – as I said, it’s a lifestyle” – Gin Stephens, author

This video is an excellent guide to intermittent fasting. Very complete and a good source of answers to questions we might have.

FROM AMAZON

As an Amazon affiliate, I am able to recommend items that are relevant to my post topics. I am rewarded if my links result in qualifying purchases. Amazon has always seemed to me to have great service in their transactions.

I like to break my fast in the late morning or early afternoon with a smoothie – a banana, some berries, a bit of honey, some lemon juice and ice. Everyone must have a blender! Check this one out. This is the one I use, since it is moderately priced, but look at some of the more sophisticated ones.

Here are a couple of very reasonably priced paperback books on intermittent fasting

Intermittent Fasting for Beginners

Intermittent Fasting for Dummies – these are always the most comprehensive books on any subject.

With Amazon links, there are always many similar options to consider. Check them out!

FINAL THOUGHTS

I have found intermittent fasting to be a healthy and easily manageable diet plan, food routine, eating schedule or lifestyle. It is not easy to define in specific terms.

It has certainly worked well for me. My suggestion is to check with your primary care physician before you begin. But give consideration to intermittent fasting if you would like to lose weight and realize the other health benefits described above in this post.

Please take a look at my sidebar permanent links – Goli Nutrition, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the American Council on Exercise.

Each of these is currently running “back to school” or other specials.

Leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, richard@myworkoutathome.com.

Be well and let’s enjoy the oncoming autumn weather!

Richard

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for such a very interesting article on intermittent fasting. I had done intermittent fasting for years. And I had lost weight off of it for sure . However, now I hit a stop and now I no longer lose and would like to know why. I feel my body got used to losing weight and it’s sad. What can I do so I can get back on track? Thanks.

    • Kiersti, thanks for your input. I do intermittent fasting myself and don’t just write about it. I periodically gain weight. Weight loss is not a linear process. I am wondering if you really need to lose any more. Are you exercising less? Are you as committed to the fasting as before? Do you break your fasts with too many carbohydrates? Please let me know how you are doing, but don’t worry about temporary setbacks. They are to be expected.

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