Is Intermittent Fasting For You?

Intermittent fasting has been talked about a lot recently, but is it right for you? Is it better than other weight loss methods? How can you practice it safely?

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a different weight loss strategy. It’s more when you eat, not necessarily what you eat. There are different ways to do it, but in one way or another, you are on a fasting schedule throughout the day, or week, having periods of fasting and non-fasting spurts.

Fasting is not the same as starvation. Extremely low calorie intake or going without eating for days is not safe and is damaging. 

Photo by Ursula Spaulding on Unsplash
Is It a Better Method? Is It Safe?

Intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss, but no necessarily “better” than other methods. It depends on what you might mean by better. There was a 2017 trial that found after 1 year of weight loss, intermittent fasting was comparable to calorie restriction in the amount of weight lost. Choosing which method comes down to preference and health factors.

For instance, if you are pregnant, diabetic, or healing from something like surgery, then intermittent fasting would not be a healthy weight loss strategy. Also, if you have an eating disorder, intermittent fasting would not be something to do since it can encourage binge eating or taking the fasting too far.

The other factor is to see how your body responds. For example, if you realize your blood pressure drops to quickly, you get headaches, or hangry when trying intermittent fasting, then find another method.

With all of that being said, for an average healthy adult who has some weight to lose, there should not be a problem with fasting unless you find it’s not a reasonable option for you.

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

Methods

There are 3 main types of intermittent fasting. Depending on how your body handles, there might be one that’s better than others. Before I get into the 3 types I wanted to say this: during your eating or “non-fasting” stage, you would eat normal size meals. This is not an excuse to binge and keep in mind nutrition. Just because this might help you not have to count everything that goes into your body, doesn’t mean that all you can feed it is junk food. Nutrition is always important in general, but especially when losing weight.

5:2 Method

The 5:2 method is when you choose 1-2 non-consecutive days throughout the week that you eat only 500 calories (200 calories being protein) and drink water. It could be in one meal or spread out throughout the day. The reason for 200 calories being from protein is to limit the amount of muscle/protein loss when fasting.

Alternate Day Method

This is fasting for 3-4 non-consecutive days per the week. 24-hours of fasting (500 calories throughout the day, 200 being from protein), and the next 24-hours eating what you want, when you want.

Time-Restricted Method

This one is probably my favorite since it includes to time you sleep, which makes it easier and more doable for me. You fast anywhere from 16-20 hours per day, including the hours you sleep. You can eat freely during your non-fasting hours. During your fasting period you can have things like water, plain unsweetened tea or black coffee. Then within a 4-8 hour window within a 24 hour period you eat. Most people opt for 8 hours. For instance, only have water/tea/coffee until 10 am, then eat and stop eating by 6 pm.

Bottom Line

Choose what’s best for you and your health. The best and healthiest diet is one that your body responds to, that isn’t a burden on you and your life, and something that keeps you eating healthy foods. Not something that leaves you “hangy” and irritable. Not something that makes you worried if you entered in the correct about of food. Not something that makes your life harder to live, but something you can manage. Whether that’s intermittent fasting or not, find what works for you.

Know Your Labels: Calorie Terms

Welcome back to another “Know Your Labels”. It’s important to know why certain products will label themselves in a specific way. As always, check the nutrition label and ingredients, not just what’s on the front of a package. The labeling on the front of the package might help to reduce the amount of labels we do read. So let’s talk about energy terms, or calorie terms that can be on products.

Calorie Terms or Energy Terms

  1. Calorie-Free: This means that there is less than 5 calories per serving. Be careful when choosing these items because more than likely they have additives in them to take and feel like food but it’s not a big help in the nutrition aspect.
  2. Low-Calorie: No more than 40 calories per serving. This items would be a good go-to snack if you are watching your caloric intake. However, a piece of fruit would be a good and low calorie option as well.
  3. Reduced Calories: Contains at least 25% fewer calories than the regular alternative product. It can be a good choice since usually a “reduced calorie” product can be they reduced the fat percentage of the product. But still always read the label. 25% reduced calories of a bag of chips still doesn’t mean it’s not a high calorie food.

Things to Consider

If you are watching you caloric intake and looking at products with these terms on the front, always read the label. When you reduce your caloric intake, watching your nutritional intake in a must. Since you will be eating less energy, the energy you consume should be from high nutrient sources. Less calories, higher nutrition. For instance, instead of snacking on a bag of crackers (120 calories), you choose an orange (30 calories). The orange will not only have good sources of energy but also added benefits of vitamins and minerals. Although the label might say low-calorie, or reduced calories, make sure the nutritional value of that product is high.

Although lower calorie products might help you with your caloric goal, you want to make sure you are doing it in the right way which is feeding your body nutrients it needs without going over your calorie deficit. If you need any help in this regard, I’m always here! Feel free to reach out.

 

Now a question for you:

Would you like to see some healthy snack options that are naturally low calorie and healthy?

How To Cook Spaghetti Squash

The original “zoodle”, spaghetti squash! Spaghetti squash is something easy to make, you just need to know how and to have the time to prep it before. Depending on the size of the squash, it can make a lot, so my suggestion would be to make sure you have people to share it with or have a few different sauces to eat with it throughout the week for meal prep. It doesn’t have much of a taste so any sauce will be the taste. Marinara, pesto, lemon garlic, creamy mushroom, red wine sauce, etc. The dishes are endless. Soon I’ll be sharing some of my sauces to have with spaghetti squash for a lighter and more nutrient dense pasta alternative that’s gluten free.

When I think of spaghetti squash I think of the first time I had it. When my mother was going through chemo treatments, she was trying to eat more organic foods and to stay away from starchy processed white foods. Since spaghetti was a weekly meal for us then, and now, she decided to try it out. It was delicious! The texture is different than pasta, but it is still soft and you can still twirl your fork around and enjoy slurping your favorite sauce!

So let’s get started and I’ll share the nutritional facts after.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Scoop out the center with the seeds.
  • Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the squash in half.
  • Scoop out the center and any seeds.
  • Rub with a small amount of olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.
  • Lay face down and stab with a knife 5-6 times on each side.
  • Once oven is preheated, put in the oven for at least 40 minutes. Depending on the size it might take up to 1 hour.
Bake for 40-60 minutes depending on size.
  • When the skin of the squash looks a little wrinkled and the bottom is started to brown, your squash is ready!
  • Cool for a few minutes and then flip them upside down. With a fork from the longer side toward the center start pulling away the strings.
  • Add with your favorite sauce and enjoy!
Spaghetti squash ready to use and eat!
Nutritional Information

There are nutritional benefits to both, especially if the grain version is a whole grain pasta whether gluten free or whole wheat. But this is a simple and easy way to lighten your pasta bowl and not feel stuffed and bloated after eating a full bowl, or two, of spaghetti. Check out the differences.

1 Cup Spaghetti Squash

  • 31 Calories
  • 0.6 g total fat
  • 7 g carbohydrates
  • 1.5 g fiber
  • 2.8 g sugar
  • 0.6 g protein
  • 2% Vitamin A
  • 3% Vitamin C
  • 2% Calcium
  • 3% Magnsium

1 cup Regular Spaghetti Pasta

  • 221 Calories
  • 1.3 g total fat
  • 43 g carbohydrates
  • 2.5 g fiber
  • 0.8 g sugar
  • 8 g protein
  • 0% Vitamin A
  • 0% Vitamin C
  • 1% Calcium
  • 6% Magnesium