Intermittent Fasting Not Worth the Hype?

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I love my title as “intermittent Fasting Expert.” I have had the pleasure of speaking to the masses via the internet to express how valuable of a technique intermittent fasting is. Over the course of the past 9 days, I have been asked repeatedly, across social media about the recent JAMA study and intermittent fasting. Maybe you have seen articles circulating the internet too? This small study suggests that IF may be ineffective and contribute to muscle loss (sarcopenia), which we know is a huge prognostic indicator for aging. 

Is intermittent fasting not worth the hype?

Let me briefly identify flaws in this study and why they cause me pause:

  1. Small sample size, only 105 (74.5%) finished the 12 week trial. With a sample this small I would not consider it a scientific study.
  2. Sample stayed on a consistent IF schedule.  We know that variation is really critical to long term success.
  3. There was NO calorie or macronutrient guidance for participants.  Were these individuals consuming a Standard American Diet (SAD) which mostly consists of high carb, highly processed foods? If so, this can adversely impact outcomes and weight loss.
  4. Results were self-reported, so I question whether or not these participants were compliant with recommendations. Self-reporting is based entirely on an honor system.
  5. Limited parameters were measured. To measure scientific data we need as many controls in place as possible.
  6. There was no exercise was prescribed.  Were these participants already sedentary or not encouraged to incorporate movement?

A really great, more recent study, that showed the benefits of IF was from the New England Journal of Medicine last December.  This study documented many benefits from IF, including: 

  • Improved bio-physical markers (blood pressure, fasting glucose/insulin, cholesterol panel, etc)
  • Autophagy (spring cleaning for the cells)
  • Reduced likelihood of developing certain types of cancers
  • Reduced likelihood of developing neurological disorders, like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, etc
  • Improved mitochondrial (powerhouse of our cells) health
  • Improved health of our gut microbiome
  • Boosted mental clarity
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Improved energy

Just to name a few!

 My personal opinion:

I have walked hundreds of women and men through my intermittent fasting programs (Intermittent Fasting Masterclass, IF:30, IF:45, IF:60) and my 2nd TEDx talk which is currently at over 7 million views, are testaments that intermittent fasting WORKS and is effective.

This study is NOT the end…it is just the beginning. Here is what I know to be true In order to thrive and do well with intermittent fasting:

  • Adequate protein intake (1gm/pound of ideal body weight).  Take a listen to this great podcast with Gabrielle Lyon here.  
  • Strength Training -This podcast with Fitasamamabear explains why here.  
  • Movement -Check out this blog post on movement here
  • Proper sleep (7-8hrs/night) without exception; there are far too many benefits from high quality sleep, including secretion of HGH and benefits from the glymphatic system that is only available at night. Also, blood sugar regulation is correlated with proper sleep. Read more about sleep here
  • Stress management

Have you had success with IF? If so, please let us know below! We love sharing success stories!

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