12 Diets in 12 Months – Exploring Diets
I have chosen to explore the impact of popular diets by living them out.
June 2020 is Intermittent Fasting Month.
There are many versions of intermittent fasting, but only one that I feel is a responsible way to apply the basic principles.
What is Fasting?
Fasting is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as, “noun The act of abstaining from food.”
Everyone fasts every day for about 8 hours - when they sleep.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a creative use of your regular sleeping ‘fast’. IF brings your attention to WHEN you eat by extending this fasting period. This turns the typical pattern of eating/fasting upside-down: 16 hours of fasting, and 8 hours of eating. For example, a typical window of eating would be 10am-6pm.
Inflammation and insulin resistance are linked (1)
The problem with our typical pattern of eating during 16 hours of the day, is that most of us don’t think about when we eat. Since childhood, we have been conditioned to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. And snacks. And desserts. Each time you eat you are introducing sugar to your body (also called glucose), and each time the body responds with a spike in the hormone insulin. Insulin swoops into the bloodstream to snatch up the excess glucose and then shuttles it to the cells for storage. When your bloodstream is regularly swimming in a pool of sugar and insulin, your cells begin to become resistant to the insulin, leading to higher blood sugar levels, inflammation and oxidative stress.
IF brings your attention to WHEN you eat. By reducing the hours that you eat (not the calories), you are limiting the spikes of insulin, and your body tends to become more efficient, less insulin-resistant, less inflamed and less stressed.
Possible Benefits of IF:
Researchers have explored the outcomes of IF and some studies (1, 2, 3) have found:
1) Reduced inflammation
2) Reduced insulin resistance
3) Reduced systolic blood pressure
4) Reduced total cholesterol levels
5) Reduced oxidative stress
The simplicity of this approach is apparent, and attractive. Touting the potential benefits as listed above, it seems like a no-brainer.
The Wrong Way to do IF
Recently, IF has been repackaged for weight loss and has become trendy. These IF diets come in a variety of promising names, like the Warrior diet, or Eat-Fast-Eat. Each one is restricting calories on top of reducing the window of hours in which you can eat. Like most diets, you can sustain the reduction in calories for a while.. When you stop dieting - and you will because dieting is not sustainable - you will gain the weight back. Additionally, those who suffer from bulimia or anorexia may find these forms of IF as a justifiable way to control their food, setting them up for relapse. Any time you restrict calories below your RDA, you will suffer.
This is how we do it! 16:8
BALANCE your timing
In my opinion, this is why the only way IF should be used. 16:8 is a form of “Window Fasting” where there is NO REDUCTION in calories. You simply eat your regular foods during a window of time each day. It is a terrific way to give your digestive system a rest. Window Fasting will help you avoid OVER-EATING. You will also be more likely to increase your water intake. Since most of us are dehydrated, this is a very good thing. Water will support cellular function, which translates into improved health.
Below you will find some links to research studies on IF. While most research studies have focused on the impact of IF on animals, there are some very promising studies in humans. Johnson’s 2006 study on intermittent fasting demonstrated a reduction in markers of oxidative stress and inflammation for asthmatics. A 2008 study by de Luca assessed the relationship of inflammation and insulin. Varady’s 2009 IF study demonstrated improvement in cardiovascular measurements of cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. The final link is a 2018 study by Stockman et al, which is deep dive into the literature if you are interested. I feel that the results of these studies are increasing our understanding of how we can work with our bodies to achieve health.
I don’t advocate weight loss through strict reductions in calorie intake. Instead, I believe that we should aim to achieve health by balancing proper nutrition, adequate caloric intake and exercise to find your zone where you thrive.
As I mentioned above, for the month of June 2020, I am embracing the 16:8 IF plan. I will share the triumphs and tribulations here on my blog and also on my FB page.
If you would like to follow my progress, like my Facebook page 2020 Nutrition Challenge: 12 Diets in 12 Months.
Please share this information is your found it helpful.