One of the hottest 2019 dieting trends stems from a simple philosophy: If you want to lose weight, stop eating.
Intermittent fasting is quickly regaining steam as an effective, weight-loss method and a path to overall good health, according to local nutritionists and health experts. It joins Keto, Paleo, vegan/vegetarian, Mediterranean and Weight Watchers as some of the most popular dietary programs available.
Local nutritionist Cheri Stoka, owner of Weighless MD, 6804 Green Bay Road, is a firm believer in intermittent fasting.
“I wouldn’t call it a fad because fasting has been around since the beginning of time,” Stoka said. “It’s effective and super popular right now.”
It’s a lifestyle
Intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle than a diet, a designation often identified as one of the keys to weight loss and maintaining a healthy body composition.
People consume calories only during a specific time of the day, typically following a recommended protocol, such as a 16-hour fast, eight-hour feast or occasional 24-hour fasts.
One common protocol involves skipping breakfast — once believed to be the most important meal of the day — and eating daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Water, black coffee and other non-caloric beverages are allowed while fasting. Eating periods should include mostly healthy options instead of processed foods, refined grains, high-calorie drinks and added sugar.
Intermittent fasting has all but debunked the common, widespread belief that people should consume several, small meals throughout the day to boost metabolism and lose weight.
“We’re not meant to eat every two to three hours,” Stoka said. “That’s not how the body is designed. We’re not infants. You can’t keep spiking blood sugars and insulin. When your insulin is elevated, you store fat. That’s the key.
“You have to let your body go without food. If you came to me and said you need to lose anything over 30 pounds, I would never tell you to do small, frequent meals.”
During a fasted state, the body doesn’t have food stored as energy so it burns fat instead, Stoka said.
She said intermittent fasting also reduces inflammation, lowers cholesterol, improves energy and mental focus and increases stem-cell based rejuvenation.
Stoka said her patients have used the diet to successfully reverse diabetes and symptoms of colon cancer through autophagy, a normal, physiological process that destroys old cells and creates new ones.
Autophagy begins around 12 to 16 hours into a fast.
“This is what you want,” Stoka said. “When your body does not have to digest or absorb food, it goes into a mode of surveying other areas in the body that need help and repair. It’s a natural cleanout of the body. People look better. They feel better. The benefits are huge.”