Healthy Byte: Intermittent Fasting – Beyond Weight Loss

ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE

7 Intermittent Fasting Benefits That Aren’t Weight Loss

Jeff CsatariMon, August 30, 2021, 7:11 AM·5 min read

Most people try fasting with one goal in mind: losing weight.

But science has also discovered health benefits linked to whole-day, alternate-day, and time-restricted fasting, says Carolyn Williams, Ph.D., the registered dietitian that helped develop the new book The Men’s Health Guide to Intermittent Fasting.

Scientists speculate that the benefits of short-term fasts may come from the structured break they provide to around-the-clock eating.

“Even if you don’t change the content of your diet, by controlling the time period in which your calories are consumed, you give your body a pause from a constant onslaught food,” says Williams.

Maybe you’re skeptical. But Williams says that, at first, she was too.

She studied the research. She looked at the data. She even tried a time-restricted fast herself. “I expected the fast to affect my blood sugar because I’m prone to low blood sugar and I know how I get without eating,” Williams says.

But Williams says she was surprised to find that she had no trouble going 16 hours without eating. Her method: She stopped eating after dinner and fasted from 7 p.m. to 11 a.m., following the popular 16:8 intermittent fasting pattern, which leaves an 8-hour-long window for eating.

“I find I’m really not hungry; in fact, sometimes I have to remind myself to eat lunch,” Williams says.

While more research is needed to determine if fasting is effective for long-term dieting, there’s no debate that it works in the short-term.

By refraining from eating for at least 12 hours (ideally 16), your body starts burning through glucose and can begin tapping fat for fuel, explains Williams. Studies show that you can expect to lose between 3 and 8 percent of your bodyweight in as few as three weeks.

Compared to calorie-restriction diets, intermittent fasting tends to trigger more belly fat loss, the research suggests. Anecdotally, Williams says she senses greater energy and improved clarity of thought.

Here are some other potential upsides of intermittent fasting, each supported by research.

Intermittent fasting may help maintain muscle.

Whenever you restrict calories and lose weight, some of that weight comes from a reduction in muscle mass. That goes for intermittent fasts as well as traditional calorie-restriction diets.

However, at least one study conducted by the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at the University of Illinois suggests that intermittent fasting may be more effective for retaining muscle mass.

The study compared overweight and obese adults who followed a calorie restriction diet with similar-weight subjects who restricted calories through intermittent fasting. After 12 weeks, the researchers found both diets to be equally effective in trimming body weight and fat mass, but less muscle was lost by the group that fasted.

Intermittent fasting may target belly fat.

Overweight people who could choose any 10-hour timeframe to eat as long as they refrained from eating the other 14 hours of the day saw a reduction in waist circumference and visceral abdominal fat after 12 weeks, according to a report in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Intermittent fasting may reduce diabetes risk.

The study in Cell Metabolism referenced above also demonstrated the potential of intermittent fasting to reduce risk of metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

All the participants in the study were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health conditions—including high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides levels—that occurring together boost the risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

After 12 weeks, every participant experienced improvement in all of the common markers of metabolic syndrome.

A similar study in the journal Translational Research found that alternate-day fasting, in which participants restricted calories by 75 percent on a “fast day,” followed by a “feed day” without calorie restriction, resulted in clinically significant reductions in blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Intermittent fasting may lower high blood pressure.

A study published in Nutrition and Healthy Aging demonstrated that participants who practiced 16:8 intermittent fasting without calorie counting significantly reduced their systolic blood pressure compared to a control group after 12 weeks.

Intermittent fasting could fight inflammation.

Inflammation is your body’s natural way of fighting off infection, illness, and injury. But there’s another type of inflammation, a chronic inflammation that can silently trigger heart disease and diabetes.

Smoking, mental stress, and a regular diet of fatty, fried, or sugary foods are common causes. Several studies have shown that intermittent fasting may induce an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces risk of those metabolic diseases—and even improve pulmonary function in people with asthma.

What’s more, a reduction in inflammation due to short-term fasting appears to protect the brain from memory disorders and depression, according to a study in Obesity.

Intermittent fasting may reduce oxidative stress.

Even when you don’t lose weight while on an intermittent fasting routine, your cells may benefit from extra protection, according to a study in Cell Metabolism.

The study assigned men with prediabetes to either a 6-hour early eating period, where they could eat only from 8 a.m. until dinner before 2 p.m., fasting the rest of the day, or a 12-hour feeding period.

At the end of five weeks, the researchers found that the men on the early time- restricted fast improved blood pressure and insulin sensitivity (as expected), but also improved resistance to oxidative stress, where unstable molecules called free radicals can damage proteins and DNA.

Intermittent fasting may help you live longer.

Rodent studies suggest that intermittent fasting, which is much easier to maintain than extreme calorie cutting, may boost lifespan, too. In one study comparing rats who were given unrestricted access to food to rats who were fed every other day, the rats who fasted lived 83 percent longer than those who gorged themselves.

Healthy Byte: Day 3045

ORIGINAL CONTENT

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist or a trainer of any kind. The following is simply my opinion from what has been true for me on my weight loss / long-term maintenance journey. I have completed extensive research from credible sources, however, the information below is my interpretation of that information. So read with a grain of salt.

It has been 3,045 consecutive days since I have been logging my nutritional choices on MyFitnessPal which calculates to a little over 8 years of logging.

I read an article recently on Intermittent Fasting (“IF”) and it was an interesting read. Intermittent Fasting dictates the number of hours of fasting verses the number of hours of eating within a 24-hour period or week – depending on the version. The theory is that by prolonging the period of no food consumption, it forces the body to burn through the calories consumed during the last meal and begin burning fat. There are also research which shows that the period of fasting not only induces Human Growth Hormone levels which benefits fat loss and muscle gain, improves insulin levels, impact gene functions related to protection against disease, but also allows the body to initiate cellular repair because it is not burdened with processing food. Please see Healthline & Hopkins for additional details.

Over the years, I have had to continue to adjust both my nutritional and fitness plans in order to maintain – it’s just what it takes as we get older. I had followed the 80/20 Rule (eating on plan 80% of the time) for years but since I’ve hit the half-century milestone I noticed that the impact on regulating my weight was decreasing. So I transitioned to IF and found that 14:10 works best for me and my schedule. IF has made a noticeable difference in easing long-term weight management but it also has alleviated my angst in extensive meal planning.

Article Summary: The writer had been on 16:8 IF for years but was experimenting with a new version of IF called the “Warrior Diet.” The Warrior Diet consists of fasting for 20-hours and limiting eating to only 4-hours a day which I thought was utter madness. However as I read on, she explained that by only eating 4-hours a day, she was liberated to eat larger quantities and whatever she wanted which relieved a lot of the stress related to counting calories and feeling deprived. She also claimed that eating only 4-hours a day essentially eradicated the possibility of overeating which for her, helped reduced her sugar cravings and feeling bloated. The writer seemed to have success with the Warrior Diet after trying it for 2-weeks.

My Perspective: What stood out to me was her mention of bloating and admitted struggle with it. In reviewing a sample day of foods she consumed,

” … tofu kale salad … a bowl of roasted tofu, sweet potatoes, and red peppers … banana, raw almonds or cashews, black-bean burritos, avocado pasta with Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs and steamed broccoli, lentil soup and bread, or veggie burgers with roasted veggies. If I felt like it, I’d eat a little dessert after. Sometimes it was some trail mix and fresh fruit, and sometimes it was a vegan brownie sundae”

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/warrior-diet-1-week-2-weeks-43966339

I can’t help but to think that perhaps she maybe is FODMAP intolerant.

As I had incrementally phased out nutrition-poor food options, for the first time in my life I made the decision to incorporate vegetables with each dinner meal. Not being a vegetable person, I defaulted to the four vegetables I didn’t mind eating – green beans, carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli. I was so proud of myself for eating lean protein and vegetables but after a few weeks, my waistline increased, I gained weight, had severe constipation, and was constantly uncomfortably bloated – sometimes so painful that all I could do was curl up in the fetal position until the pain passed. I was very upset, frustrated, and couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong.

Around the same time, one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with Celiac. Her unfortunate diagnosis gave me the idea that perhaps I had some form of gluten or carbohydrate sensitivity. After hours of research, I had concluded that I was FODMAP intolerant. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols and unlike Celiac, FODMAP intolerance is not an immune reaction but an intolerance to certain types of foods. High FODMAP foods are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly which can result in the large intestine retaining too much water causing sometime unbearable bloating. Please see Cleveland Clinic; Healthline; Hopkins for additional details.

And to my surprise, many healthy foods are also high-FODMAP foods. Foods like wheat, soft & silken tofu, legumes, lentils, fruits like apples, avocados, ripe banana, and vegetables like mushrooms, snow peas, onion, cauliflower, and broccoli. And sadly, FODMAP intolerance varies greatly from person-to-person, therefore there really is no one-list to definitively identify all high-FODMAP foods for all people. To further complicate things, each person can have a certain persona tolerance to certain high-FODMAP foods. For example, onion and broccoli are both a high-FODMAP foods, but I can consume a small amount with no ill-effects. So it is truly a matter of persistent trial & error with a lot of patience in determining what the trigger FODMAP foods are.

Given the sample of foods the writer listed, there’s a possibility that perhaps all the Warrior Diet accomplished was to reduce her consumption of high-FODMAP foods within her tolerance level like onions & broccoli are for me.

Healthy Byte: 5:2; 16/8; 14/10

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BLOGGER NOTE:  Click HERE for additional details on intermittent fasting variation. Personally in my 6th year of weight-loss maintenance I have naturally adapted to eating intermittently 15/9. Fasting for 15-hours may sound like madness but considering the bulk of the time fasting is spent sleeping, it has come easily for me and worked well in my day-to-day.

Originally Posted HERE

Let’s be honest: The word “fasting” doesn’t exactly bring up delicious thoughts and positive vibes. For plenty of people, it probably conjures up images of starvation and deprivation and makes their stomach start growling.

Yet, intermittent fasting has so many folks going wild right now, raving about how the strict-and-scheduled eating plans helped them lose weight and improve their health. So there must be *some* good in the health and weight-loss fad, right?

Charlie Seltzer, MD, weight-loss physician and certified personal trainer, points out that what most people are doing nowadays isn’t “true” fasting (in other words, eating only one meal per day or nothing at all in a day’s period). Instead, they’re intermittent fasting (duh), meaning they’re taking an approach to eating that involves restricting calorie consumption to a certain window of time each day, like only from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (so you fast for 16 hours, a.k.a. a 16:8 diet).

The logic behind periodic fasting as a weight-loss approach: “Since you need to have a calorie deficit to lose weight, eating within a window makes it easier to eat less and hit your designated calories,” Dr. Seltzer explains.

Intermittent fasting has some pros beyond weight loss, too, says Dr. Seltzer. It works with a lot of people’s lifestyles, allowing them to skip meals during the day when they’re busy or not super hungry and might otherwise just eat out of obligation. What’s more, following a 5:2 fasting schedule may even improve your heart health; fasting can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, according to Cleveland HeartLab.

“True fasting has a large variety of health benefits beyond those that occur with calorie restriction,” Dr. Seltzer adds. “It can cause something called cellular autophagy, where our cells eat themselves [to destroy damaged cells and make way for new, healthy ones].”

That said, intermittent fasting shouldn’t be attempted without some thought as to whether it’s really a good idea for your personality and lifestyle—and not just because it could be challenging to stick to, but because it could be downright bad for some groups of people.

Registered dietitian Barbie Boules of Barbie Boules Longevity Nutrition says the people who should not consider intermittent fasting are:
  • Folks with diabetes or other metabolic disorders
  • People taking medications that require food
  • Anyone with a history of disordered eating
  • Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive
  • Children and teenagers

But honestly, anyone who requires a consistent, healthy input of calories throughout the day to be healthy (physically *and* emotionally!) isn’t the ideal candidate to try intermittent fasting. If you’re unsure where you stand, it’s always wise to speak with a medical professional first.

Here are eight potential disadvantages, side effects, and straight-up warnings about intermittent fasting to keep in mind if you’re a healthy adult and thinking about trying it yourself.

1. You might feel way hungrier.

Surprise, surprise: Not eating for 16 hours a day could make you ravenously hungry, at least while you’re in an adjustment period.

In theory, says Dr. Seltzer, intense hunger shouldn’t happen while intermittent fasting using a plan such as the 16:8 method; if you’re fasting correctly by filling up on protein at the end of the day, you shouldn’t be hungry first thing in the morning. (Your appetite wouldn’t kick in until later on the following day.)

In other words, only eating within a short window is not a free pass to set up camp at the all-you-can-eat buffet for eight hours, which would defeat the purpose of fasting. And this can be a huge challenge for many people who are used to eating much more regularly and who may not be totally in tune with their body’s hunger cues.

2. It might make you feel sick or fatigued in the morning, especially if you work out first thing.

Committed to your 6 a.m. workout? Intermittent fasting might not be a great choice. “I think it’s a terrible idea to exercise on an empty stomach,” says Boules. “We benefit from a little glucose before and some protein after.”

And even if you’re not a morning exerciser, not eating until, say, noon when you’re used to waking up and having breakfast at 8 a.m. may leave your stomach churning. In turn, you may feel off, a little lightheaded, or nauseous as you get used to the new schedule.

3. Fasting diets are rigid and rule-based.

Both Dr. Seltzer and Boules describe intermittent fasting as very individualized, meaning it could work well for some people and turn into a total disaster for others depending on a number of lifestyle factors.

4. It doesn’t always play nice with other diets.

Boules says intermittent fasting is often combined with other restrictive diets, like keto, which can cause double-trouble if either of those approaches—or heaven forbid both—aren’t right for you.

Adopting a diet plan that means you can only eat lean protein and vegetables between the hours of 1 and 9 p.m. every day doesn’t exactly set you up for winning any popularity contests with your friends and family (not to mention the mental fatigue that comes with jumping through meal-planning hoops on the regular), Boules points out.

But hey, your diet choices are your own, and if you are up for the challenge of navigating an intense and strict food routine and your personal life, that’s entirely your decision.

5. You may deal with low blood sugar.

This is why people with diabetes should steer clear of fasting. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia is a side effect of diabetes and insulin medication, but it can happen to non-diabetics, too (if you have thyroid disease, for example).

Other symptoms of mild to moderate hypoglycemia include headache, blurred vision, sweating, fatigue, and paleness, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

6. The research is minimal.

Look, we all know the internet is full of so-called health claims made by “experts” about the best diets. And while the field of research on intermittent fasting isn’t empty, Boules is hesitant to jump on the bandwagon based on what she’s seen so far.

“Despite a deluge of articles citing studies, solid evidence in support of intermittent fasting as a superior approach to eating just isn’t there yet,” she says.

What studies is Boules referring to? Well, most of the more compelling ones were actually performed on rodents. Human studies have not shown the same scope of evidence.

There also remains debate about whether the actual fasting is responsible for the health benefits, or if it’s simply the reduction in calories.

This isn’t to say that better, more conclusive research won’t ever become available, but as Boules said, we’ve got a ways to go before we understand everything about intermittent fasting.

7. It doesn’t help you create mindful eating habits.

While Boules admits that intermittent fasting can be a great strategy for curbing mindless late-night snacking, it can totally work against mindful eating, too. Rather than thinking about whether or not you’re truly hungry, you’re simply eating by the clock.

“I encourage my clients to [evaluate their hunger] on a daily basis and act accordingly,” she says. “Every day is different for sleep, exercise, stress, hormones, and schedule, which all affects appetite. It’s one of many reasons I don’t believe it’s healthy to apply ‘rules’ to your food philosophy.”

8. You can take it too far.

Even in dieting, moderation is key; no diet is sustainable if you’re unable to adapt it to your lifestyle as needed. For example, Dr. Seltzer reiterates that many athletes need a morning meal and see better results when they eat before training. Sticking to a strict intermittent fasting schedule in that example precludes that.

Ultimately, if you’re just not sure how to feel about intermittent fasting, don’t hesitate to hash it out with a pro, like an RD or doc you trust.

At the end of the day, if you’re a healthy adult, intermittent fasting probably won’t do damage (even if it turns out to not be a good fit for you personally). Dr. Seltzer and Boules both acknowledge the control it teaches, though they remain on the fence about whether the potential side effects outweigh the benefits.

“Please understand this will not work for everyone and is not required for good health,” Boules says. “While I’m watching the research and will own it if I’m proven wrong, I think it’s yet another example of a fad approach to wellness.”

Healthy Byte:

Originally Posted HERE

Image result for intermittent fasting

(Reuters Health) – People who start fasting every other day may lose more weight than they would if they stuck to their usual eating habits, a small study suggests.

The 60 healthy people in the four-week study were not overweight. Researchers randomly assigned them to either stick to their usual eating habits or switch to alternate day fasting, with 12 hours of unrestricted food followed by 36 hours of no food.

With alternate-day fasting, people reduced weekly calories by 37% on average and shed an average of 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds). That compares with an average calorie reduction of 8.2% and an average weight loss of 0.2 kilograms (0.44 pounds) without this diet.

“We do not recommend this as a general nutrition scheme for everybody, because this is a harsh intervention of which we do not know the long-term effects,” said Frank Madeo, senior author of the study and a researcher at the University of Graz in Austria.

“We feel that it is a good regime for some months for obese people to cut weight,” Madeo said by email.

To ensure that people assigned to alternate day fasting didn’t eat on fasting days, researchers asked them to wear continuous glucose monitors. Spikes in blood glucose levels might mean people had a snack. Researchers also asked participants to fill in food diaries documenting their fasting days.

After 4 weeks of alternate day fasting, people had more lean muscle and less body fat, lower cholesterol levels and improved heart health – all things that can happen with a wide variety of exercise and nutrition programs.

To get a sense of the safety of alternate day fasting, researchers looked at a separate group of 30 people who had been eating this way for at least 6 months, comparing them to healthy people who had not been fasting.

They didn’t find any meaningful negative side effects.

One limitation of the study is that researchers didn’t test the diet in people who needed to lose weight. They also didn’t have any long-term safety data, and many health problems associated with extreme dieting like malnutrition and brittle bones can take much longer than 6 months to develop.

“The ‘starvation mode’ the body goes into during alternate day fasting may have some benefits,” said Susan Roberts, a senior scientist at the USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts University who wasn’t involved in the study.

For example, fasting can improve the body’s ability to use the hormone insulin to transform sugars into energy, a process that can help reduce blood sugar and prevent diabetes, Roberts said by email.

But there isn’t enough safety information about alternate day fasting to recommend it as a regular way of eating to maintain a healthy weight or for weight loss, Roberts said.

“My preferred option to be honest is not to recommend alternate day fasting per se but to use occasional daily fasting as a toolbox option that some people may find helpful,” Roberts said. “A small percentage of people wanting to lose weight may find it helpful, but we don’t yet know the long-term safety to recommend it with comfort.”