Intermittent Fasting Does Work for Weight Loss, Doctor Clarifies

There’s been a lot of talk about the effectiveness of popular weight-loss plan intermittent fasting. With many studies being done on this time-restricted eating plan, there’s also always new information being presented, but the end result is largely the same: intermittent fasting works for weight loss.

Recently, a study was published in JAMA that looked at time-restricted eating and its weight loss effects in both men and women. As the results were shared, some of the information seemed to get misconstrued, according to a doctor who now wants to clarify.

Monique Tello, M.D., MPH, a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, director of research and academic affairs for the MGH DGM Healthy Lifestyle Program, and clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School, was not involved in the study. But, she recently published a blog post on Harvard Health’s blog saying she had seen headlines about this study claiming that intermittent fasting doesn’t work and has a significant negative impact on muscle mass. She believes, though, that these research results have largely been misinterpreted. (Related: 5 Science-Backed Benefits of Intermittent Fasting.)

The original study tested 141 overweight patients over a period of 12 weeks. Some were put on a time-restricted eating plan while others followed a traditional eating plan. Dr. Tello points out that there was no true control group in the study because each patient was put on a schedule of some sort. A true control group would have been given no instructions or guidelines.

In the end, both groups lost weight, but the study showed that the intermittent fasting group lost more, including muscle mass that wasn’t identified in those on a traditional eating plan. But as Dr. Tello explains in her post, the study makes no mention about the quality of food both groups were eating.

“By the way, all of these folks may have been eating fried or fast foods, and sugary sodas and candy—we don’t know,” writes Dr. Tello in Harvard Health. “The study doesn’t mention quality of diet or physical activity. This isn’t how IF is supposed to be done! And yet the IF folks still lost between half a pound and 4 pounds.”

Plus, Dr. Tello notes that both groups were given a structured eating plan. Dr. Tello believes having a true control group, in which participants continued to eat as they normally would, could’ve made these research findings more conclusive.

She reiterated that the study did, in fact, show that intermittent fasting works for weight loss, it’s just that some of the results weren’t necessarily presented properly, and the study was, perhaps, a bit flawed in its setup.

“While this one negative study adds to the body of literature on IF, it doesn’t reverse it,” Dr. Tello writes in her post. “We simply need more high-quality studies in order to have a better understanding of how to most effectively incorporate IF into a healthy lifestyle.”

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Empower Your Health With Intermittent Fasting

There's a new trend in how we eat, or possibly I should say how often we eat. It's popularity is due to the fact that it helps people lose weight without having to deal with the effects of real hunger. It also helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases, like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

What is this new trend? "Intermittent fasting" or IF is the name of this game.

Intermittent fasting is really nothing new. In fact, IF goes way back to our original ancestors. It is an eating strategy imprinted in our DNA, because our our ancestors practiced a reduced eating schedule. They literally had no choice in the matter. They simply did not have the kind of frequency and ease of access to food we have now.

Our Eating Window –

This new strategy towards eating is not just about skipping meals. It's about spending as much time as possible in the fasted state.

The best way to define any type of fasting is to think of it as simply a change in eating patterns. In the case of IF, in place of three square meals in a day, or eating a handful of smaller meals throughout the day, there is a window of time when we're allowed to eat. This could take the form of a few hours a day, or the fasting window could represent certain days of the week. During that time, we can eat whatever we want – within reason of course.

Spacing out our "eating window," allows our mind to get in tune with our body so we can understand what real hunger really feels like.

IF is not about starving. Fasting does not mean starving, but it isn't a diet either. The literal definition is:

"to abstain from food and drink during a specific period of time."

IF is about eating two meals in a day rather than three (or multiples) during which you introduce a 16 hour fasting period. You can choose either breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner, and it's proving to be a powerful approach to eating.

The Western world spends little to no time in a fasted state. True hunger is something we should only experience every 16-24 hours, not every four hours as we are accustomed to. For most, there is a constant grazing from dusk to dawn, and even into the late night for some people.

IF won't work for anyone whose diet centers around processed foods like chips. Fasting requires us to stick to a mostly whole food diet, rich in vegetables, lean proteins, healthy carbohydrates and fats in order to experience the best and quickest benefits of IF. The two meals chosen for the day need to be packed full of nutrition and completely balanced.

It is estimated that one out of every two people in today's modern world is obese or overweight and millions are dying from complications that stem from this truth. IF helps to manage body weight and is …

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