Intermittent fasting is a form of time-restricted eating that has been popularized in the last several years, most notably as a method for losing weight.
It’s grown so much in popularity that you probably know someone doing it right now or who has done it in the past. But what is it and does it live up to the hype?
What does intermittent fasting mean?
Intermittent fasting, in short, means that you are abstaining from food for an extended period. You can think of the time between dinner and breakfast as “intermittent fasting,” but in popular culture it refers mostly to those who intentionally fast for longer than the conventional period of dinner and breakfast.
While someone typically fasts 8-12 hours from evening to night, someone who is partaking in “intermittent fasting” will extend this to 13-18 hours.
Why has it gained popularity?
Intermittent fasting has gained popularity much like any diet gains popularity: it provides novelty and presents an alternative to the current popular views. This particularly will catch the attention of those who are struggling to find success with the current prevailing methods.
For so many years the predominant belief was that 6 meals a day were the way to success in fitness and as such intermittent fasting came as a direct challenge to that belief system. This then provides a new way to achieve the same goal, but for those who have not found success or adherence with previous method.
In addition, it marketed itself as a “non-restrictive” way of eating since there were no rules for what you could consume. However, we should be careful in labelling it as non-restrictive because it is restrictive, just with time instead.
Is Intermittent fasting the magic pill we’ve all been waiting for?
Many do find success with intermittent fasting because it simply lessens their opportunity for overconsuming food throughout the day. It is also a naturally preferred way of eating for many, especially those who were never fond of breakfast to begin with.
In the end, if you lose weight, you simply did so by creating a deficit in overall calories consumed. The act of holding off eating is not a magic pill, just one strategy, and it may not work for everyone.
Women have reported the loss of their menstrual cycle so that and any other hormonal abnormalities are something to be aware of. Further, those with a history of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviours should acknowledge that this is still a restrictive way of viewing meals and likely isn’t advisable.
Please speak with a dietician or medical professional before altering your diet in a significant way and remember the right diet will always be the one that is sustainable for you in the long term.