Tag Archives: diets

Q&A: Intermittent fasting

Q: Many people I know are using “intermittent fasting” to lose weight. Is it effective? Are there health benefits? Should I try it?

A: Thank you for your questions as always. I actually have a few family members who follow an intermittent fasting “diet”, so I was very interested to research some more about this.

Intermittent fasting is followed in various forms by different people. The basics are that you limit your eating to a set number of hours per day. Most people it seems go with an 8-10 hour period, but I’ve heard of some restrict it down to only 2 hours per day.

What results are we seeing in scientific studies? Studies have shown that people have as good weight loss as just restricting their overall intake without a time restriction. But studies also indicate there may be benefits in relation to blood glucose and fat levels, which is good news for those at risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Why? This article from Harvard Health goes in much greater detail if you are interested. But in short, when we eat carbohydrates, one of two things can happen. First, those carbs are used for energy, which requires insulin (insulin levels are high). Second, they can be stored as fat. In between meals, when the body needs carbs but there aren’t any available (insulin is LOW), the body breaks down the fat for energy. This is good. We want the body to do this. But if we are CONSTANTLY eating, insulin levels stay high and we never break down that fat. Also, constantly overload of insulin can lead to our body not responding well to insulin, which can lead to diabetes.

But isn’t fasting hard? For some people, it can be. The Harvard article mentions some research that shows putting your eating period earlier in the day makes it easier rather than later (so 7 am-3 pm vs 12 pm – 8 pm). I think the timing of your fasting period is likely to be very individualized based on your preference and schedule. If you already aren’t a morning eater, don’t start just because of fasting.

Don’t want to fast? Me either. But there are some good take aways for EVERYONE, even if you aren’t intermittent fasting.

-Stop eating ALL the time. Allow insulin levels drop and you can burn some fat.

-“Hunger” in and of itself isn’t a horrible thing. Letting it get out of control so you eat out of control can be bad, but a little bit of hunger between meals is ok.

-Don’t eat late at night. This is likely to be just junk foods and shortens the periods of low insulin levels at night.

-Find what works for you. Fasters need to find the 8 hours that work best for them. Find what “schedule” of eating works best for you, be it 1, 2, or 3 meals a day. There is not a generic diet that will be perfect for everyone. You have to make it work for you!

Hope that helps!

Send questions to kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com.

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Diets to Avoid in 2018

It is the end of February. That is crazy to me! Time is flying by. I hope you are doing well on any health (and other) goals you made for this new year.

I realized I forgot to post these earlier in the year. But a list of fad diets to avoid is always timely. Especially as I think we are all re-evaluating what has or has not worked for us in the last 2 months. If you are looking for a change-up in your eating routine, the British Dietetic Association (and I agree) suggest you AVOID these five diets: raw vegan, alkaline, Katie Price Nutritional Supplements, Pioppi, and ketogenic diet.

Here’s why:

Raw Vegan Diet: A vegan diet can be consumed safely if you are conscientious and take supplements for vitamins B12 and D. However, it is not going to magically make you lose weight. Calories are calories. And there is no benefit from consuming all foods raw. Some foods cannot be digested raw – like potatoes.

Alkaline Diet: The whole premise behind this diet is flawed. Our body has multiple processes that balance the pH of the blood. If you pH was off, you would be in the hospital. Changing your diet CAN change the pH of your urine, which is what you check in this diet. You may lose weight, but because you are eating more healthy. Not because of pH changes.

Katie Price Nutritional Supplements: Bottom line is you don’t need supplements to lose weight.

Pioppi Diet: This is an altered version of a low-carb Mediterranean diet. Save yourself time and money by following a traditional Mediterranean diet (which I talk about here).

Ketogenic Diet: This is a real diet that can be followed and helpful for people with epilepsy. However, it should be done under the guidance of a dietitian. For weight loss, it is basically a very low carb diet. In the short term, it may help you lose weight. It isn’t sustainable in the long term, which means the weight loss likely would not be either. Over restricting one food group is generally not a good idea.

For more on these diets, read the British Dietetic Association’s review here. Happy eating and not dieting!

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In touch with your inner caveman – paleo diet review

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Through media coverage and people I know, I have been hearing more about the paleo diet recently. I even frequently see food bloggers post “paleo-friendly” versions of foods.

First off, what is the paleo diet? The paleo diet is based on the idea that we would be healthier if we followed the diet our ancient ancestors did before the beginning of agriculture. Basically, a hunter-gatherer type of diet. No grains, legumes, dairy, potatoes, salt, refined sugar, or processed foods are allowed. Meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils are permitted.

Does the diet work? We don’t really know yet. Like most low-carb diets, there is some research showing weight loss or improved blood sugar control while following the diet. But conclusive evidence on long-term health is not available at this time.

My opinion: like all “diets”, it has good and bad points. Getting away from processed and refined foods is a good thing. Eating more fruits and vegetables is also great. I don’t agree with cutting out all grains, legumes, and dairy. Bone health is one of my pet concerns, so I’m never happy to see calcium sources being cut out of the diet. Whole grains and legumes provide wonderful fiber and great protein with less fat than meat.

I also read an interesting comment about the premise of this diet. The author mentioned that there was no single diet in the paleolithic era. People all over the world ate different foods based on where they were. Some people were able to gather wild grains, others weren’t. Stone-age people also often died fairly young due to the extreme conditions they lived under, making it difficult to know if the diet was actually “healthy” in the long-term.

This adds further fuel to my fire. There wasn’t one perfect diet 12,000 years ago, and there isn’t one today. Eat a balanced, mixed diet of foods that will nourish and sustain your body. Happy eating!

Have any nutrition questions? Need help with meal planning or a special dietary need? Send your questions to me at kimberlykmarsh(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will answer them in upcoming posts!

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