Ask the Expert: Is Intermittent Fasting Actually Good for Me?

by Tessa Yannone | May 8, 2018 12:30 pm

Welcome to our Ask the Expert series, in which local health and fitness experts answer your wellness questions. Here, Matt Priven discusses the good and bad of the diet trend, Intermittent Fasting. Got a question of your own? Email tyannone@bostonmagazine.com


grocery shopping

Photo via iStock.com/Steve Debenport.

If it’s not carbs we’re cutting, it’s fat, and if it’s not fat we’re throwing to the wayside we’re eating pure butter and cutting back on protein in hopes of achieving ketosis (thanks, keto). We’ve officially run out of macronutrients to cut out, so instead, we’re cutting back on the time of day we can reach for sustenance, with a diet called Intermittent Fasting.

Wondering if this fad is something you should experiment with? So are we. We sat down with Matt Priven, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and founder of Oceanside Nutrition, to get the lowdown on this diet trend. Spoiler: It may not be the solution to your diet roller coaster.

Ask the Expert: Is Intermittent Fasting Actually Good for Me?

Answer: No. 

The details: 

The long and short of Intermittent Fasting (IF), according to Priven, is an eating pattern in which, instead of eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full, you limit your eating window to anywhere from eight to 10 hours with a period of time when you don’t eat (called your fasting window). On the surface it seems simple: You choose a time-frame (typically people cut out breakfast and aim for something like 11 a.m.-7 p.m.) to eat whatever you want, and at all other times of the day nothing but water and black coffee reaches your lips.

Though people are trying it for a multitude of reasons, Priven says it is gaining popularity in the weight loss realm because it doesn’t read as a traditional diet. Some people are seeing success, he explains, because if you don’t have as much time to consume food your overall caloric intake might be lower than it normally would be otherwise.

“People are drawn to the simplicity of restricting their eating window without having to focus on avoiding certain foods or counting macros,” he says. “But even though it doesn’t seem like a diet, it is still a form of restriction. It just turns the restrictive eating lens toward your calendar rather than your plate.”

According to Priven, the research behind the diet is still very young and there aren’t any long-term human trials to refer to—which is where his hesitation arises. Sometimes the diet contradicts established, well-known nutrition rules like eating breakfast. “We know eating breakfast in the morning has good effects on metabolism, energy levels, and productivity,” he says. “By restricting your window you may have to skip meals, forcing you to really evaluate how you might feel pushing through the morning without anything to eat.”

He recommends that if someone is considering IF as a weight loss solution to consider if it is truly necessary to accomplish your goal. Typically, he says we want to avoid things that feel restrictive or unattainable because they lead to disordered eating behaviors and a more complicated relationship with food in the future.

“How many new and exciting diet trends need to happen before we stop ignoring the hunger and fullness cues our bodies are trying to send us?” Priven says. “For now, we’re just going to have to put Intermittent Fasting in the category of ‘interesting research’.”

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2018/05/08/intermittent-fasting-fad-diet/