Your friend Amy jumps on every new diet trend, and this month she’s really into intermittent fasting. She maintains that skipping meals (and sometimes, drinking only water for the whole day) keeps her from feeling restricted because when she does eat, she can have whatever she wants. But could this popular new diet actually be effective…and good for you? We investigate.
What’s intermittent fasting, exactly? It’s a regular period of fasting (aka, uh, not eating) followed by a period of normal food consumption. The duration and frequency of the fasting periods vary, depending on the program the dieter is following. Some methods involve fasting until noon every day, some involve fasting for 24 hours once or twice a week, and others involve eating only one large meal per day.
And what’s the point? The idea is that by limiting your calorie intake occasionally instead of day in and day out, you’ll lose weight while still getting to eat the stuff you love. Proponents of the diet also maintain intermittent fasting can also help reduce cholesterol, inflammation and blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and prevent insulin spikes.
But it sounds scary. Yep, we’re the first to admit that forgoing food for any period of time sounds terrifying. But some doctors, including Canadian nephrologist Jason Fung, are