Intermittent fasting, which requires a drastic reduction of calorie intake, was initially thought to be unhealthy, but new researches suggest it might not be that bad.
For some people who would like to lose weight, intermittent fasting may work just as well as traditional dieting. Based on the new research, some nutritionists that used to be against this form of dieting now recommend it for some people.
Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietician, counsellor, and public speaker specializing in nutrition, weight loss programs, and fitness, said that people in the nutrition community always believed that skipping meals was bad. However, judging by the new findings, intermittent fasting may not be as bad, and she even recommends it to a smaller number of her clients, Tallmadge added.
That being said, intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Lauren Popeck, a registered dietician at Orlando Health in Florida, said that this form of dieting is not recommended people who are diabetic, since not consuming food for longer periods of time may lead to a drop in blood sugar levels.
People who follow an intermittent fasting diet have to cut calories only on some days, while on others they can eat regularly. On fasting days, some only consume about 400 to 600 calories.
A study published in April 2015, found that over a six-month period, people who followed intermittent fasting diets were able to lose nine percent of their initial body weight. Researchers also found that almost 80 percent of the participants managed to stick to their diets.
In 2011, another study – which involved women who were either overweight, or obese – placed the participants into two group: one in which they had to follow an intermittent fasting diet and consume 540 calories two days a week, and one in which they followed a regular diet and consumed 1,500 calories per day. The women in both groups had similar results, losing about 11 to 13 pounds (5 to 6 kilograms) after six months.
According to Tallmadge, people do not necessarily have to cut so many calories at once to see good results. She advises people who want to follow an intermittent fasting diet, to fast twice a week in the evening, which means that they should skip dinner or replace it with something light, such as fruit or yoghurt. That way they would consume about 1,300 calories instead of 2,000.
On fasting days, people should also eat more nutrient-dense foods that have many nutrients relative to their total number of calories, Tallmadge added.