Intermittent fasting, fasting diet, or intermittent energy restriction is an eating plan that switches between fasting and eating on a regular schedule. Recent studies have delivered promising results, with the American Heart Association stating observable benefits to fasting, such as weight loss, reduced insulin resistance, and even the potential to lower the risk of cardiometabolic diseases. However, caution must be taken when using this method for weight loss or the treatment of other ailments, as research is just beginning and long-term results are yet to be established.
To be clear, it is dangerous to stop eating altogether, but we will explore the benefits of fasting diets in structured settings, and we’ll attempt to answer commonly asked questions.
What is Diet Fasting?
Fasting is not a new idea - that is, it’s been around for thousands of years as a religious practice, or out of necessity or scarcity of food. In ancient times before humans learned to farm, hunters and gatherers evolved to survive, and actually thrive, for long periods of time without a meal. Diet fasting, specifically, is more modern than traditional fasting. Many experts refrain from calling it “diet fasting” or simply “dieting” because it’s technically not about eating certain foods, but rather pacing eating over a given period of hours, or settling into a pattern of days to eat and not eat. Hopkins Medicine summarizes it as “Many diets focus on what to eat, but intermittent fasting is all about when you eat.”
Today the diet fasting or intermittent fasting community, not to be confused with a slim fast diet, is becoming more and more aware of additives in our foods, extra sugars, and extra calories. This, combined with a more sedentary lifestyle due to office work and technology can mean a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses. As science begins to back intermittent fasting, it holds promise for the future for diet fasting to be a viable and stable way to lose weight, as long as the participant closely monitors weight loss and changes in their body. There are also other ways to support fasting, including supplements to replace vitamins and vital nutrients for the body.
What is Intermittent Diet Fasting for?
The modern landscape of fitness and wellness is riddled with fad diet carousels that don’t work, mostly because the individuals participating in the diet will eventually go back to old habits. Exercising is hard when you are not properly motivated or lack the stamina to keep pushing your body to its limits. Relying solely on supplements and even better eating habits will not significantly help you lose weight - even when fasting, it is important to remember physical activity but to do it when your body has the energy. Fasting for longer periods of time while continuing a regular exercise routine is also not healthy, and can be very dangerous.
In a write-up on their own blog, Healthline puts it this way in reference to intermittent fasting (IF), “it’s not a diet in the conventional sense but more accurately described as an eating pattern. Common intermittent fasting methods involve daily 16-hour fasts or fasting for 24 hours, twice per week.”
When you fast, several things begin to change in your body on both a cellular and molecular level. One of the first changes comes to hormone levels with the intention of training your body to rely more heavily on the burning of excess fats for fuel. This also triggers your body to go into a state of repair as a response to less sucrose, glucose, and general caloric intake. This process is known as an expression of genes with the purpose of sustaining energy.
Does Diet Soda Break a Fast?
In general, diet soda is a non-caloric beverage, meaning it has little impact on the total amount of carbs or protein you consume in a given day. So while diet sodas are still being studied for their impact on your digestive system due to their artificial sugars, diet sodas do not trigger any kind of insulin response, and therefore should be safe to consume while fasting. Does this mean we are advocating for you to drink diet sodas more frequently? Hardly. Be suspicious of any food or beverage product claiming to be “diet” anything. The food and beverage industries have a completely different definition of diet than you do.
Diet soda is essentially a mixture of carbonated water, artificial or natural sweeteners, color additives, other artificial flavors, and other food additives. If you are looking closely, you’ll realize those diet sodas are almost exactly the same as regular soda, except that instead of real cane sugar or fructose corn syrup, diet sodas use artificial sugars. If you are committed enough to try intermittent fasting as a means to become more healthy, consider applying that same determination to diet sodas. They are not healthy, and their intentions are not to help you lose weight, but rather to trick you into thinking you are making more health-conscious decisions.
Diet soda addiction is a real thing, whether the American Psychiatric Association officially recognizes it or not.
What is the Best Diet to Lose Weight Fast?
Slim Fast dieting is quite possibly the most famous “fad” diet. While the concept of fasting exists with Slim Fast beverages, simply drinking what amounts to a protein shake for every meal will not effectively help you lose weight in a stable manner. The Paleo Diet, vegan diet, low-carb diets, Atkins, and many others all have something in common; while they provide a basic meal plan for every person to try, they alone will not solve your weight issues. These diets are designed to be a guideline for healthier eating, but regular exercise and guided supplements will still be needed to see real, healthy, and lasting results.
The “best diet” to safely shed pounds is one where a nutrition plan is strictly followed, regular exercise is maintained, and supplements provide essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to fuel, and rest.
Build a plan of action around these elements, and most of all, stick to it! Fasting has been proven to be effective, but it’s only when done in tandem with exercise and proper vitamin intake that real sustained results are achieved in a healthy way.
If you found our blog looking for weight loss advice or assistance with planning for healthier living, email Dr. Gregory Oliver at email@example.com. You can check out the rest of our blog here, or read more about our products here.