Intermittent fasting has soared in popularity as a way to practice healthy eating. It comes up so often with patients that the entire Tryon Medical Partners education team spent two months reading about and discussing intermittent fasting. Tryon Medical Partners Registered and Licensed dietitian Allison Chalecki weighs in with her professional opinion on the key questions of intermittent fasting.
Is intermittent fasting effective?
Allison says there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that intermittent fasting is effective in promoting weight loss. Weight loss caused by intermittent fasting is minimal and comparable to the impact of eating healthier food, maintaining a healthy calorie level and exercising regularly.
It is important to note that there are various types of intermittent fasting. The most common type focuses on specified time intervals – consuming all of one’s daily calories within one window of time. Other ways of intermittent fasting include going several days on a complete fast or on a restricted amount of calories per day. With these alternative types of fasting, there is limited data on whether or not they work for weight loss indicating minimal or inconclusive results.
“When you look at the results of these studies on intermittent fasting, the weight loss isn’t even that notable,” Allison notes. “You have people restricting to an extreme degree with minimal payout.”
Is intermittent fasting for me?
Allison recommends that, if you fall into any of the following groups, you reconsider whether intermittent fasting is the right choice for you:
- On medication for a chronic condition. Intermittent fasting may disrupt your ability to consistently take your medication if you have to take it with food.
- Living with diabetes. Intermittent fasting will completely change the way you take your insulin. If you do want to try intermittent fasting, Allison recommends bringing it up to your doctor to make a plan.
- Recovering from an eating disorder. Restricting food intake can be harmful for those who have experienced disordered eating. Allison recommends pursuing other weight loss avenues.
Even if you don’t fall into any of those groups, but you are routinely famished by lunchtime, intermittent fasting may not be for you. The focus should be on finding a sustainable diet, and if you’re always hungry, fasting may not be a long-term possibility.
Allison emphasizes, “Most people just don’t want to wait that long to eat breakfast and there is a lot of validity in fueling your body in the morning. It’s not for everyone.”
How can I find success intermittently fasting?
If you do decide to try intermittent fasting, Allison recommends the following practices to make it as successful as possible:
- Keep a food journal. This will help you keep track of what you are eating and when to make sure you’re still getting the nutrients you need.
- See a registered dietician. Seek guidance to understand what your food intake and frequency should look like while you’re fasting.
- Continue exercising. Just because you’re fasting doesn’t mean you should stop exercising. It’s important to continue living a healthy lifestyle.
- Make sure you’re truly fasting. After nighttime, the goal of intermittent fasting is to drink plain tea, black coffee and water. If you put cream (or any other calories) in your coffee, the fast ends.
- Pump the brakes if you need to. Look out for feeling dizzy, shaky or nauseous. Allison notes, “That’s your body’s way of saying ‘pay attention to this. Something is wrong.’”
To learn more about dietary health and wellness, or schedule a visit with a dietician, visit the Tryon website.
Tryon Medical Partners is an independent medical practice dedicated to maintaining trusted patient-doctor relationships, providing excellent and personalized care, and giving you the choices in healthcare that you deserve. With eight convenient locations throughout Charlotte, Tryon Medical Partners specializes in primary care as well as cardiology, dermatology, gynecology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pulmonary, rheumatology and sleep medicine.