Intermittent fasting is arguably the biggest diet trend right now, and if your clients ask you about it you need to be prepared:
How do you do intermittent fasting?
Is it right for me?
Will I lose weight?
Can I eat whatever I want?
Intermittent fasting is a style of eating rather than a restrictive diet, which is a major appeal for a lot of people looking to trim down. But this doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Indeed, weight loss results from any diet are most often due to the severe reduction of calories. The ISSA doesn’t necessarily recommend intermittent fasting, but instead aims to make sure you’re up to date on fitness and nutrition trends to stay relevant with clients.
What Exactly Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting is often thought of as a diet, but it’s actually a style or pattern of eating, not a diet. What differentiates it from a diet is that fasting does not have anything to do with what you eat, rather when you eat. This is not to say that clients should go ahead and start without consulting their physician. You should always encourage them to talk to their doctor before making any major changes in their eating habits.
It is a simple pattern of eating that shifts between designated periods of fasting—not eating at all or severely restricting calorie intake—and periods of eating healthfully. Exactly when and for how long the fasting periods last depends on individual choice.
Potential Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
A lot of research has been done to determine if intermittent fasting is safe, effective for weight loss, and beneficial for overall health. The results indicate that this style of eating can help with weight loss and can provide a number of health benefits, while risks are seemingly low.
The number one reason people choose to fast intermittently is to lose weight. And the good news is that it’s effective. If you don’t go overboard during eating times, you should lose weight. The main reason for this is that an intermittent fast reduces your calorie intake overall. There are some other hormonal and metabolic factors at work that can up weight loss, but generally it is the reduced calories that make intermittent fasting work.
Lose Body Fat
As a trainer you know that losing weight is not always a simple matter of watching the number on the scale decrease. Losing weight may result from fat loss, muscle loss, or both. Of course, what we want is fat loss, but that doesn’t always happen with simple calorie or food restriction.
A benefit of intermittent fasting is that it seems to promote fat loss, not just weight loss. Fasting triggers human growth hormone, which is beneficial for fat loss and muscle gain.1 Fasting also increases insulin sensitivity, another hormone change that results in loss of fat.
A Simplified Diet
One of the best things about this pattern of eating is that it isn’t actually a diet. Counting calories, restricting certain foods, sticking with a paleo or plant-based diet dictate what you can eat, but intermittent fasting only dictates when you can eat.
This is an approach to weight loss that is much simpler. You can technically eat whatever you want. The only stipulation is that you restrict when you eat. Of course if you decide to use your eating times to binge and eat nothing but junk, weight loss probably won’t happen.