Intermittent Fasting - Facts vs. Fantasy in the diet world

"Diet is the most important thing you can do for your health."  
David L. Katz, MD

First, please notice, Dr. Katz didn't say "going on a diet" is the most important thing you can do for your health.  He also didn't say "losing weight" is the most important thing you can do for your health.  Dr. Katz is the Founding Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and a world renowned expert on health and nutrition.

Which "diet" is best for your health?
I'm using the term "diet" to mean - what you eat, NOT to mean "going on a diet."  We know that certain ways of eating have been linked over and over to health issues.  This was confirmed in a recent article on the Global Burden of Disease study, it was reported that:  inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils, whole grains, and excessive intake of processed meat and processed food overall was the leading cause of chronic disease and early death in modern countries around the world.  

Fact:  There is no ONE diet that works for everyBODY.

Despite the research, many people continue to look for a "perfect diet" (diet to go on) and cycle from one fad diet to the next, hoping that they will find a quick fix or a solution to their food and body image issues.  But the truth is there is no one diet that fits all people.  Such is the case with a current fad diet - intermittent fasting.   As we discuss this,  I want you to keep in mind the statement above as you read about these diets.  

Intermittent fasting diet:  IF has been popular as an alternative to counting calories and also as an anti-aging approach and a possible therapy for cancer, neurologic disease and heart disease.  But most of these health claims and proposed explanations for how IF works have been based on animal studies and have not been tested in humans.  Also there are many claims on social media have no evidence to support them.  The most popular form of IF is "time restricted feeding" which involves  restricting daily intake to certain hours of the day.  Multiple studies have shown that IF is not better than calorie restriction (other diets) in improving health markers and that the benefits of IF are due to restricting calories, not due to metabolic effects of fasting.  

In particular, studies showed:

  • IF is NOT better at helping you burn calories or keeping you from feeling hungry
  • There are conflicting results on whether IF improves insulin resistance, anti-aging or anti-inflammatory benefits (most studies were in animals).
  • People with eating disorders were excluded from research, so we can't confirm that IF leads to binging or triggers eating disorders.  However other studies have shown that restricting is often associated with binging.

What should we eat?

The experts actually are in agreement that the most important thing is that we eat mostly vegetables, fruits and whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds in their natural state and drinks plain water.  The Anchor Program has used this approach for almost a decade.  Dr. Andrew Weil, who I studied with to become an Integrative Medicine physician, developed the anti-inflammatory pyramid over a decade ago which also uses this approach.  Author Michael Pollan said it simply in 2007:  "eat food, not too much, mostly plants."  This information from multiple expert sources is over a decade old and has stood the test of time.

Should you go to the media to look for ways to get healthy?

Learning about nutrition is very important and yet many times, people are looking to social media, online advertising or "influencers" to tell them about something that is so important - good health.  I know that these days it's very popular to doubt the experts or to feel "I know my body better than a doctor does."  Also many times the media or diet companies blow up and misrepresent studies without giving an interpretation of what the results mean.  For example, you may hear:  "IF helps you live longer" without hearing that the studies on this were mostly in animals.  As well, many medical professionals are still focused on the number on the scale and don't have much training in actually helping you know what you should EAT which is the most important determiner of HEALTH.

What if you stopped looking for a "fad diet" and just worked on eating foods that have been shown for decades to promote health?

Instead of looking for THE PERFECT DIET, a quick fix way that is not mainly about health (if you're being honest) but about the number on the scale, why not take a different approach?  How would it feel to take back control of what you eat?  How would it feel to stop spending time and money on yet another fad diet?  It may feel scary, I know.  But what we do know without a shadow of a doubt is that fad diets don't work.  I can tell you that you don't have to be on a fad diet to make peace with food or your body.  there are many ways of going about this.  I've given you some resources to explore in the links above.  

If this information helps you and you're ready to finally take a step towards becoming healthier, schedule a free consult today!