Do You Really Lose Weight From Fasting Diets?

In the September 4 issue of Hamodia Prime, there was an article by Aryeh Hakohen Katz about an interesting diet that works by interspersing times when you eat and times when you don’t.

I’m sure that, like most diets, this one is getting a lot of attention. The question is, how safe is it? Is it just a fad?

Since hindsight is 20/20, as a survivor of a variety of fad diets I learned the hard way that any diet that doesn’t follow a healthy balance may help one lose weight in the moment, but one will retroactively regain what was lost — and more — as soon as the diet is terminated.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there is a study written up in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2017 that involved 100 people who were assigned to one of three eating plans: “Restricting daily calorie intake by the same amount every day (similar to a traditional diet plan), fasting on alternate days, and continuing with normal eating habits. At the end of the 12-month study, both diet groups had lost weight compared with the normal eaters. However, the fasters didn’t fare any better than the conventional calorie cutters.”

The study continues, “A notable aspect of this trial was a very high dropout rate (38%) among the people assigned to the fasting regimen. This may reflect a real-life pitfall of fasting as a weight-loss approach, says Dr. Hu. In addition, there’s a strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods. Your appetite hormones and hunger center in your brain go into overdrive when you are deprived of food.”

According to Harvard Health Publishing, if you are considering intermittent fasting, make sure to discuss it with your doctor first. Skipping meals and severely limiting calories can be dangerous for people with certain conditions such as diabetes.

If one still wants to try this diet, one would need a strong support system of physician, friends and/or family for the more difficult days to be able to sustain the diet for the long haul. Once the weight is lost, a maintenance diet should be implemented immediately to keep the weight off.

Hatzlachah. Happy dieting.

Esther Horowitz