By: Lilli Rozanski MS, RDN, LDN, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux
Regional Medical Center
Intermittent fasting is one of the top trends in the wellness world right
now. This eating pattern, which features cycles of fasting and eating,
is making headlines as proponents’ claim it helps with everything
from weight loss to lowering the risk of chronic disease.
There are several different approaches when it comes to intermittent fasting.
They range from somewhat restrictive to the extreme. Here’s your
The 16:8 method: This is the most common type of intermittent fasting, and generally the
easiest to follow. Basically, it means in a given day, a person eats during
an eight-hour window and fasts the rest of the time.
The 5:2 method: You fast for two days of the week on this plan. But it is not a total
fast: On the fasting days, you limit your calorie intake to 500-600 per
day. The other five days of the week you eat normally.
The “Eat-Stop-Eat” method: This one is similar to the 5:2 method, except a person doesn’t
eat at for a 24-hour period once or twice during the week. During the
fast you are allowed water, coffee, and non-caloric beverages, but no
Alternate day fasting: People on this plan fast every other day, eating 500 calories on their
fasting days. This method is very extreme and not recommended for many people.
Some studies have found that there is virtually no difference between people
who regularly practiced intermittent fasting and those who simply cut
back on their calorie intake overall. There is emerging research that
demonstrates a better strategy is optimizing nutritional quality of what
you eat (veggies, fruit, lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats)
versus fasting or counting calories. Science also suggests that any potential
benefit from fasting is quickly undone during the eating part of the cycle,
in which appetite suppressing hormones switch gears to make you feel even
hungrier than you felt at baseline.
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone! It may be sustainable for some
people, while others find that this approach is not for them. Restricting
food intake this way may lead to disordered eating in some people. Research
shows that fasting for a period time followed by a limited window for
eating primes you to overeat. It is a cycle that can be difficult to get
out of because it impairs our body’s natural hunger cues and metabolism.
To help you find what works for you, work with a doctor or registered dietitian
if you are interested in this diet. A professional should be your number
one resource! Everyone is different and pros can help you with an individualized plan.
*References available on request*