A good number of my clients ask me about intermittent fasting. People LOVE shortcuts to lasting, sustainable eating patterns and habits and this is just another way to be hyper-focused on food – which is NOT a good thing!
Though Intermittent Fasting (eating < 500 kcal per day 2 days per week; eating normally on the other 5 days) has shown clinical significance (i.e., in research studies) in improving metabolic markers and improving weight loss; the results are not significant enough to warrant an entire schedule upheaval in the general public (it’s not like it cures diabetes or causes a magical 40 pound weight loss). The issue is that I believe it causes a hyper focus on eating/meal times and creates a disordered eating patterns. It focuses too much on calorie counting, which as dietitians – believe it or not – we are trying to move AWAY from and more towards counting SERVINGS of WHOLE FOODS. And it limits the potential for exercise. On those calorie restricted days; you simply cannot exert enough energy to perform safe exercise – and most Americans have enough issue finding time in their week to get in one day per week of exercise, so when you lop off 2 fasting days – it becomes an even bigger challenge. I never recommend IF the 5/2 way; I’ll sometimes invite clients to leave 12-16 hours between dinner + breakfast the next day; which is a milder approach and creates less “food crazy.”
Bottom line: just eat. REAL foods. That haven’t been RUINED by humans (i.e. – yogurt! Yay! Comes out of a cow! Why do we dye it pink and call it “strawberry??”). Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. It doesn’t matter if it’s 4 AM or 4 PM (although – why are you up at 4 AM?!) Manage your stress. Drink a lot of water. Move your body.
Leave the fasting for Yom Kippur and before colonoscopies.