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Pros and Cons to Intermittent Fasting

A very popular trend currently making headlines is intermittent fasting. Many people define this differently. Generally, intermittent fasting is when an individual goes for an extended period of time without food or liquid calories. To some, this means fasting for 12-14 hours, to others it may mean an entire 24 hour day. Research on intermittent fasting is limited, but the benefits that have been shown with intermittent fasting are similar to those of any weight loss program or dietary pattern that promotes weight loss.

Intermittent fasting is not recommended for people with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), pre-diabetes or diabetes. Fasting can interfere with medications and insulin prescribed to those with pre-diabetes or diabetes. Instead, people with theses diagnoses should consult with a registered dietitian for an individualized meal plan. Individuals who are prescribed medications that are to be taken with food, should consider this when intermittent fasting. The greatest con to intermittent fasting, is that diet quality is not a focal point. Meaning that intake of fruits and vegetables, and good quality balanced food choices are often overlooked when following intermittent fasting.

Intermittent fasting is a very black and white meal pattern- you eat during a 6-8 hours window, and fast for the remaining 16-18 hour period. Some people need this structure for successful weight loss. There are no guidelines as to what to eat or how much to eat. Intermittent fasting is simply about the timing of meals. If you do not want to give up certain foods, or change current food choices, intermittent fasting may be a preferred method for weight loss. Some individuals find weight loss success with intermittent fasting due to overall reduction in calories while others do not. 

As with any diet or lifestyle change, weight loss should be achievable and maintainable while following an intermittent fasting regimen. Weight loss can have many health-promoting benefits depending on the current health of the individual. As a registered dietitian, I do not promote intermittent fasting; however, if an individual wishes to try this method of eating, I will assist them in doing so in a healthful way.

Blog post provided by:
Katie Foster, RDN, LD
Clinical Registered Dietitian

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