The weight loss trend of Intermittent Fasting (the IF Diet) is fast gaining popularity. Even Hollywood celebs such as Jennifer Aniston swear by this eating pattern.
For those who might not be familiar with this trend, intermittent fasting is a strategy in which you alternate a period of eating with a period of fasting. In simpler words, it sets certain periods of time during the day when one can eat and others when one cannot.
There are multiple approaches to the IF diet such as 5:2, i.e. five days of unrestricted eating, followed by two days of fasting, or 18:6, which is 18 hours of fasting with a six-hour eating window.
Depending on which variation or school of thought one chooses to follow, IF might involve other dieting patterns paired with the fasting, such as vegan or gluten-free dieting. Others do not apply limitations on what and how much can be consumed during the eating window.
Naturally, as the trend becomes more popular, the misinformation floating around about the dietary pattern has increased.
Here are some myths debunked.
Myth #1: Intermittent Fasting Essentially Means Skipping Breakfast
While this might be true for some people who follow the IF diet, it is a very simplified statement. Those who follow Intermittent Fasting usually tend to schedule their eating windows later in the day in order to ensure more flexibility to match social patterns and hunger pangs. However, the scheduling is completely dependent on the person following the diet.
Myth #2: IF Is The Miracle Cure For Weight Loss
Even though IF diets can be used to facilitate weight loss, it is not an outcome that is guaranteed. Weight loss is instigated by achieving what is called ‘Calorie Deficit’ – which entails consuming fewer calories than what your body burns. Therefore, if a person consumes more calories than their body burns in the eating window, they will not experience a weight drop. Lastly, one must understand that weight is not the true indicator of fitness.
Myth #3: All Intermittent Fasting Is The Same
There are several types of intermittent fasting plans. Ranging from one meal a day to shorter fasting periods, different IF patterns are suggested to different people in accordance with their fitness levels and body type.
Myth #4: IF Is Good For Everyone
Even though intermittent fasting comes with several benefits, it will not work for everyone. Fasting is not advised for those who have a history of an eating disorder or those who are either underweight or in a frail or weakened state. Additionally, women should not begin a fasting routine while they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Lastly, children are not likely to benefit from these patterns in their developmental years.
Myth #5: You Can Eat Anything You Want During The Eating Window
No, no, no! The eating window is not a time to binge eat and engage in gluttony. It is also not an excuse to eat food that you have missed out on – it is the time to have a well-balanced diet.
A healthy diet is a balanced diet. Regardless of whether you follow intermittent fasting or not, eating a variety of whole foods including whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables is important. After that, if you still find yourself craving something that is less nutritious, you can have it in small quantities.