Intermittent fasting, or IF is all over the airwaves at the moment.
And I have to be honest, when I first heard of it a while back my initial thought was that is was a fad, a gimmick, and that it went against all the rules that I have been taught as a personal trainer in pursuit of effective weight loss.
Its now Saturday morning and I have spent quite some time over the last year or so learning about intermittent fasting and as with many things that grab my nutritional attention I wanted to try it. So having just broken this weeks fast I’d like to let you know a few points about intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting With Michael Mosley
The recent Horizon documentary with Michael Mosley is an informative piece on intermittent fasting,
Michael Mosley who is himself a medical professional goes on a quest to find the holy grail in health, and questions whether IF is the best way to to live, and if so how is the best way to fast.
Who’s Talking Intermittent Fasting?
Dr. John M. Berardi has done his own extensive research in intermittent fasting, and has come up with his own conclusions.
- IF is an effective way to manage hunger, and back to the topic of emotional eating this may well be a great tool to build your awareness of hunger – real hunger.
- His method of bigger meals and longer gaps between them was not more effective for losing fat when compared to more frequent smaller meals.
- He concluded that regular fasting did make it easier to maintain your ideal body composition once this has been achieved.
- His conclusion is the IF can work, but it is down to individuals to decide and experiment. He says it is not necessary for weight loss, but could be an effective tool.
Shin Ohtake has also written on the subject of IF, and he also concludes that some swear by it and do well, while others don’t.
He recommends personal experimentation. He lists a series of negative anecdotal effects including severe mood swings, irritability, hostility, depression.
Mark Sisson on the other hand has linked IF to decreased susceptibility to depression and a host of other advantages including reduced incidence of Alzheimer, Huntington’s, and improved cognitive ability as a result of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
Mosley talks about the reduction of IGF1, growth hormone reduction and the slowing of growth of our cells, allowing for repair. He also talks of improved nerve function, and overall health and longevity.
Should I Jump On The Intermittent Fasting Band Wagon?
I have taken to eating only 6 days a week which contrasts with Berardi in that his nutritional protocol involved eating daily, but with long gaps between meals. I feel this may not have had enough time to elicit the responses documented by other research.
On my own experimentation I found the first day horrendous, feeling tired, hungry, ratty and a bit dizzy by about 20 hours. However I have been fasting for 24 hours once a week (last meal at supper time on Thursday until I eat again at the same time on Friday) for a few months now, and I barely notice it, unless I am with others who are eating delicious food.
Would I recommend it? This depends on you, your background and your current level of eating and nutrition habits. On one hand many of my clients get on eating every few hours, certainly no longer than four hours apart, in an attempt to reduce stress, cortisol, and aid weight loss. On the other hand there is certainly something to be said for IF, for the right person and for the right reasons.
Ask yourself ‘is this working’, and if it isn’t then make a change.
Whichever method of eating that you choose, I do recommend is focusing on nutrient dense foods, and proper exercise. Depending on your goal, I recommend either a slight calorie restriction (weight loss) or a slight calorie excess (weight gain). Always nutrient dense foods.
IF is not for everyone. Once you have achieved your results and your ultimate goal, then maybe this is the time to experiment with intermittent fasting. Remember the SAID principle, and GAS. Its always important to change your exercise so why not experiment with your nutrition too?
I hope this helps you decide whether to fast or not. If you are just starting out on your weight loss of fitness goal, then I highly recommend you read this nutrition article here. If you find this useful, or you think a friend might, please do share it below.
Have a great weekend. Nico.