You can imagine my surprise when I walked into the kitchen at our office and saw one of my colleagues eating two hamburger patties with a layer of cheese in the middle for lunch (no bread, no condiments, nothing!) As the look of fright rushed across my face, he decided to tell me about this new “diet” he was following, a ketogenic diet. I knew this was coming; the beginning of the New Year brings with it obsessions with finding that one weight loss plan that will stick, no matter how outlandish it may sound.
Over the past week, I’ve been bombarded with information on crazy weight loss diets that seem so bizarre, yet science is beginning to show they may be valid. Now, I won’t go as far as to say we’ve found the Magic Bullet (well, maybe we have!), but I will say that there are quite a few ways to achieve that sexy figure. The latest craze? Intermittent Fasting!
I don’t know about you, but if I go for longer than six or seven hours without eating, I get “hangry,” hungry and angry! How could one possibly consider fasting for 16 to 24 hours or even days at a time? An all-liquid or NutriBlast cleanse, no problem, but don’t take my food away from me!
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern (or diet) that involves various time spans of fasting (with limited caloric intake, about 500 calories) and non-fasting. While there are several definitions of IF out there, the overall concept and physiological response is similar. Some questions still remain as to optimal length of fasting periods, consecutive vs. non-consecutive fasting days, prohibited or allowed foods, etc., however a few of the current versions include:
- The 5:2 Diet: Consuming only about 500-600 calories on two non-consecutive days out of the week and eating normally for the other five.
- The Fast 5: Eating only within a five-hour window usually some time after 2pm each day while fasting the other hours.
- Skipping one meal every day or skipping one meal a day only two days a week with a reduced caloric intake for the other meals on those days as well.
- Fasting (very low calorie – about 600-800/day intake) for 3-5 days at a time, about once a month.
Although most of the research on IF to date has been done on animal models, there are studies under way looking at the human response to see if there are similar benefits. Research shows a promising pattern for weight loss among other biological markers, such as reduced cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduced resting heart rate, improved insulin resistance and increased neurotrophic factors to help boost learning and memory!
How It Works
After 10-12 hours without food, our liver glycogen stores are used up so our body resorts to burning fat for fuel. Ketone bodies are then produced by the liver from fatty acids to help fuel your body during fasting. With an extended fasting period, more fatty acids are utilized for fuel instead of stored. However, a specific “fasted state” timespan for optimal results is yet to be determined.
I recently listened to the latest IF research on NPR and it's extremely fascinating. For one, it compliments the research on calorie restriction and longevity as well as challenges several common dietary myths.
Myth #1: Eating late at night causes weight gain. It’s actually the amount of time between eating that may dictate weight gain; therefore eating late at night shortens the “fasting” time during slumber and hinders metabolic hormone production.
Myth #2: Fasting slows your metabolism. Experts on the NPR broadcast proclaim that metabolism enters “survival mode” only when body fat percentage falls below 8%, which for most of us, is not a problem.
Myth #3: Eating 5-6 meals a day is the best weight loss approach. Research on IF shows just the opposite. Now, if small, frequent meals work for you, then continue. This myth buster is solely for the purpose of introducing other weight loss options.
Myth #4: Eliminating a certain food group (carbs, gluten, animal foods, etc.) is necessary for weight loss. Most IF plans do not limit food categories, making them a bit easier to stick to (if you can get over the hunger thing!)
Can I NutriBlast While Intermittent Fasting?
While NutriBullet does not endorse any particular diet, for those of you following this lifestyle, a NutriBlast might be the easiest way to consume the most nutrients with the fewest calories on your fasting day. Try some of these low calorie NutriBlast recipes!
While research is still in its infancy, we are seeing more and more positive outcomes from reduced caloric intake and intermittent fasting. Each of us is unique and I always like to say, “One man’s medicine might be another man’s poison,” so be sure to tailor any dietary approach to your personal needs and consult with a dietitian or other credible nutrition professional to see if IF is appropriate for you.