Intermittent Fasting: A Weight Loss Method You Might Not Know About

October 20, 2020 | Nutrition

Dev Mishra, M.D.

President, Sideline Sports Doc

Medical Director, Apeiron Life

Fellow, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Institute For Joint Restoration, Menlo Park, CA

 

October 20, 2020

Key Points:

  • Intermittent fasting involves eating your food in small time blocks each day, such as 8 to 10 hours
  • When combined with good food quality, intermittent fasting can result in substantial body fat loss and weight loss

I will frequently tell my orthopedic patients that there’s “no joint condition in your body that can’t be improved with weight reduction”. Many folks think that’s a crazy notion but there are strong mechanical reasons why it’s true.

If someone buys into that, the next question frequently is “how do I lose weight if exercise causes my low back/hips/knees to hurt?”

One method you can consider is intermittent fasting, which can often jumpstart a weight reduction program if other things you’ve tried aren’t working. Intermittent fasting is one of the biggest trends in nutrition. It involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting each day. For example, eating all your meals between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

What Is Intermittent Fasting

Although it may sound like a fad, more and more research is suggesting that it has real benefits. Here’s a quick overview of the science.

  • One form of fasting, which involves eating your meals within an 8-10 hour window each day, has been shown to support weight loss and improve health markers such as blood sugar and cholesterol in some people.
  • However, intermittent fasting is no more effective than a Mediterranean diet or other healthful diets after the initial 6-12 months.
  • The quality and quantity of foods you eat still matter too. Fasting can’t undo a poor diet. I’m a big believer in the South Beach Diet, through which you can use foods in-line with the Mediterranean meals.
  • Other research has looked at how fasting affects cognitive decline, cancer, and lifespan, but it’s primarily been done in small animals, with very little human evidence so far. That means the jury is still out.

My Experience: Very Positive, Worth Trying

I haven’t thought of myself as an overweight adult. In fact almost everyone who saw me would describe me as “lean”. That changed when I got a DEXA scan that revealed what my true body fat percentage was. The truth was that I needed to change my body composition.

I made two significant changes, that over the course of six months resulted in a 20 pound loss of body fat. The first involved food quality, where I followed the principles of a Mediterranean diet within the guidelines of South Beach Diet. That change alone was a massive improvement in how I felt every day. Aches and pains generally disappeared, energy levels mid-afternoon improved a lot.

The second change was that I started a limited eating window timeframe from about 10am to 7pm. My version of intermittent fasting. I tried smaller time windows but I didn’t like those. This 9-hour window is manageable for me, for my wife, and socially.

I’m sure the combination of improved food quality and the intermittent fasting is the key.

If you’re curious to try it, it will take some effort initially to break the psychological early morning and late evening cravings. Once you take a couple of weeks and break through I think you’ll notice a difference in how you look and feel.

 

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