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Diet Plan Information: Nordic Diet

Nordic Diet

 

What is the Nordic Diet Plan?

The Nordic diet plan suggests eating the food of the Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden) which includes plenty of local vegetables and seafood. There is some debate on exactly what the Nordic diet plan consists of but the general consensus is that you should be consuming whole, unprocessed foods that are local to the area in which you live. “While the Nordic diet isn’t proven to prevent heart disease to the same extent as the Mediterranean diet, it’s clearly a step above the average American diet, which has too much processed food and meat to be considered good for the heart” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2015).

 

How Do You Implement the Nordic Diet Plan

In many ways, the Nordic diet plan is very similar to the Mediterranean diet plan as both emphasize eating whole foods with a focus on seafood and vegetables. The main difference is that the Nordic diet uses canola oil while the Mediterranean diet uses extra virgin olive oil. This diet is considered a balanced diet as no major nutrient group is excluded.

Peoples living in the Nordic region practice “hygge” (pronounced hooga) which encourages fostering a sense of contentment to help with your overall well-being. Additionally, Swedes suggest following “lagom” (pronounced lahgum) which roughly translates into “not too much, not too little.” This is greatly applicable to dieters who are looking to lose weight in terms of portion control and moderation.

 

What Can You Eat on the Nordic Diet Plan?

The Nordic diet plan emphasizes consuming whole, unprocessed foods. It also suggests eating seasonal foods like in-season berries and seafood.

  • Fruits (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries, apples, plums)
  • Vegetables (carrots, cabbage potatoes, turnips, parsnips, bok choy, beets, garlic, onions, broccoli, leeks)
    Whole Grains (whole-grain crackers and bread, rye, barley, oats)
  • Legumes (peas, beans)
  • Oils (canola oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil)
  • Nuts and Seeds (flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds, cashews)
  • Seafood (mackerel, tuna, white fish, herring, salmon, cod)
  • Low-Fat Dairy (skyr [Icelandic yogurt], cheese, milk)
  • Local Meat (elk, venison, turkey, chicken, rabbit, bison)

 

What Can’t You Eat on the Nordic Diet Plan?

You’ll need to avoid processed foods to adhere to the Nordic diet. In general, try to stick to whole foods and avoid:

  • Simple Carbs (white bread, pastries, donuts)
  • Processed Foods
  • Fast Food
  • Sugary Drinks (sodas, fruit juices)

 

Pros of the Nordic Diet Plan

  • Environmentally Friendly: Since you’re eating foods that are locally-sourced, your carbon footprint is relatively low. “A food intake… which emphasizes more plant-based and less animal-based foods is necessary for high environmental sustainability” (Meltzer et al., 2019).
  • Weight Loss: Because you’re consuming whole, unprocessed foods, you’re likely to lose weight while on the Nordic diet plan. Furthermore, since you’ll be cooking your food at home, you know exactly what ingredients are getting into your meals.

 

Cons of the Nordic Diet Plan

  • Time-Consuming: Not being able to run through that fast food drive-thru can be a drag, especially for people who are busy with jobs or families. Many people don’t have the time to cook all of their meals at home.
  • Expensive: Switching from cheap, processed food to locally-sourced, organic foods can put a burden on your wallet. For those without some extra expendable income, the cost of the Nordic diet and be prohibitively expensive.

 

Books on the Nordic Diet Plan

  • The Nordic Diet: Using Local and Organic Food to Promote a Healthy Lifestyle (Hahnemann): “The Nordic Diet is all about eating locally sourced seasonal ingredients in a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial fats. The traditional diet of Northern Europe emphasizes quality homemade and homegrown food—with an attempt at moving away from processed foods—and consists of a wide variety of grains, berries, vegetables, fish, poultry, and game meats.”
  • The Nordic Way: Discover The World’s Most Perfect Carb-to-Protein Ratio for Preventing Weight Gain or Regain, and Lowering Your Risk of Disease (Astrup, Brand-Miller & Bitz): “There’s complex science at work behind the Nordic Diet, yet it’s remarkably simple and delicious to adopt. Readers will be able to see significant improvements in their health and weight—and even prevent the dreaded middle-age spread—without ever having to count a single calorie or eliminate carbs, dairy, and meat.”
  • The New Nordic: Recipes from a Scandinavian Kitchen (Bajada): “Split into nine chapters, The New Nordic is based on different food groups including ingredients found ‘from the forest,’ ‘from the sea,’ ‘from the land,’ and ‘in the larder,’ along with a ‘basics’ chapter that demystifies classic Scandinavian cooking techniques such as pickling and smoking food.”

 

Evidence-Based Studies on the Nordic Diet Plan

  • Weight Loss: Participants in the study who followed the Nordic diet plan for 6 months lost an average of 10.4 pounds. “An ad libitum [new Nordic diet] roduces weight loss and blood pressure reduction in centrally obese individuals” (Poulsen et al., 2014).
  • Lower Chronic Disease Risk: “In the EPIC-Potsdam cohort, the Nordic diet showed a possible beneficial effect on myocardial infarction in the overall population and for stroke in men, while both scores reflecting the MedDiet conferred lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the overall population and of myocardial infarction in women” (Galbete et al., 2018).
  • Lower Cardiovascular Disease: “A diet based on the authorities’ dietary recommendation and consisting of Nordic ingredients improves the risk profile in those who are predisposed to developing cardiovascular disease” (Berild, Holven & Ulven, 2017).
  • Environmentally Sustainable: “The Nordic countries, with their tradition of strong political co-operation and communication, could become some of the leaders in making the global food system healthier and more sustainable” (Meltzer et al., 2019).

Diet Plan Information: OMAD Diet

 

What is the OMAD Diet Plan?

OMAD stands for “one meal a day” and means just that: you only eat one meal per day. It is similar to intermittent fasting in that you only consume your calories in a relatively short period of time, typically between 1-2 hours of the day. It is considered to be an extreme fasting diet.

Since you’re only eating once per day, you typically consume far fewer calories than you otherwise would if you ate all day long. That is, for most people, it’s very hard to over-consume your daily caloric intake in one short sitting.

 

How Do You Implement the OMAD Diet Plan?

Starting the OMAD diet plan is relatively simple. First, choose a window of time in which you’ll consume your meal. Often, it’s easier for people to pick either lunch or dinner so time slots of 12 PM or 6 PM tend to work best for working people. Next, try to plan what you’re going to eat each day beforehand so you don’t just resort to ordering a large pizza and chicken wings (although technically you could on the OMAD diet). Consume your calories in that chosen window of time, then rinse and repeat the next day, and the next day, etc.

Note that you can still have calorie-free beverages during the off-hours like black coffee, diet soda, and unsweet tea. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and, as always, consult with your doctor before starting any new diet plan.

 

What Can and Can’t You Eat on the OMAD Diet Plan?

Technically, you’re able to eat whatever you want in that one hour time frame on the OMAD diet. “Although you’re technically allowed to eat whatever you want during this one meal, you’re still eating way fewer calories (which are units of energy) than you would typically need in a day” (Stieg, 2019). It should also be noted that if you opt to eat a salad and some soup rather than an entire apple pie, you’re likely to lose more weight more quickly and be healthier overall.

 

Pros of the OMAD Diet

  • Eat What You Want: The good news about only eating one meal per day is that you’re allowed to eat whatever you want. As stated before however, it makes much more sense health-wise to try to consume a balanced diet in that window instead of a tub of ice cream.
  • Simple: There’s no calorie counting, food tracking, data inputting, or anything else like that. “You don’t really need to consider your calories or worry about the exact nutritional profile of the food you eat, as long as you’re saving all of your calories for that one period of time, says New York City–based nutritionist Natalie Rizzo, RD” (Baum, 2019).

 

Cons of the OMAD Diet

  • Extremely Restrictive: Obviously, if you’re only able to eat food in a small window of time per day, this can be highly restrictive and unappealing for many people.
  • Hard to Get Nutritional Needs: If you’re only eating one meal per day, it’s sometimes unappetizing to eat that salad, fruit cup, sandwich, and side vegetables all in one sitting. While this is good to help reduce your caloric intake, it might mean that you’re not consuming enough of certain vital nutrients simply because you can’t consume that much food in one sitting.

 

Books on the OMAD Diet Plan

  • Delay, Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle (Gin Stephens & Dr. Kenneth Power): “Tired of counting calories, eliminating foods from your diet, or obsessing about food all day? If so, an intermittent fasting lifestyle might be for you! In this book, you will learn the science behind intermittent fasting, and also understand how to adjust the various intermittent fasting plans to work for your unique lifestyle.”
  • The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting (Dr. Jason Fung & Jimmy Moore): “Fasting is not about starving oneself. When done right, it’s an incredibly effective therapeutic approach that produces amazing results regardless of diet plan. In fact, Toronto-based nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung has used a variety of fasting protocols with more than 1,000 patients, with fantastic success. In The Complete Guide to Fasting, he has teamed up with international bestselling author and veteran health podcaster Jimmy Moore to explain what fasting is really about, why it’s so important, and how to fast in a way that improves health.”
  • The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss (Dr. Jason Fung): “Everything you believe about how to lose weight is wrong. Weight gain and obesity are driven by hormones—in everyone—and only by understanding the effects of insulin and insulin resistance can we achieve lasting weight loss.”

 

Evidence-Based Studies on the OMAD Diet

There are no studies specifically on the OMAD diet but there are a number of studies on fasting and extended fasting.

  • Numerous Health Benefits: “A post hoc analysis of subjects from both [fasting-mimicking diet] arms showed that body mass index, blood pressure, fasting glucose, IGF-1, triglycerides, total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and C-reactive protein were more beneficially affected in participants at risk for disease than in subjects who were not at risk” (Wei et al., 2017).
  • Weight Loss: “[Alternative Day Fasting] appears to be an effective diet therapy for individuals with NAFLD that can achieve weight loss and improvement of dyslipidaemia within a relatively short period of time (4 to 12 weeks)” (Cai et al., 2019).
  • Fasting and Cancer: “Fasting or fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs) lead to wide alterations in growth factors and in metabolite levels, generating environments that can reduce the capability of cancer cells to adapt and survive and thus improving the effects of cancer therapies” (Nencioni et al., 2018).

Diet Plan Information: Keto Diet

 

What is the Keto Diet Plan?

The keto (ketogenic, ketosis) diet plan is a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat diet. The reduction in the consumption of carbs allows your body to reach a state of ketosis, where your body burns fat to provide energy to the body.

 

How Does the Keto Diet Plan Work?

The keto diet is one that relies on fats rather than carbohydrates and sugars to fuel the body. “When the body’s glucose level is reduced due to the diet’s low carbohydrate content, the body acts as if it is in a starvation state — although it is not — and begins burning fats instead of carbohydrates” (Belli, 2020). Aside from that, it works like any other diet plan in that you consume fewer calories than you burn which allows you to lose weight.

The ketogenic diet is also a diuretic – that is, you lose a lot of water weight very quickly. “This diet has a diuretic effect, and some early weight loss is due to water weight loss followed by a fat loss” (Masood & Uppaluri, 2019). Many athletes like the keto diet because much of your muscle is spared due to your protein intake. “Interestingly with this diet plan, lean body muscle is largely spared” (Masood & Uppaluri, 2019).

 

Is the Keto Diet Plan Safe?

As with many other diets mentioned, this all depends on who you ask. Some experts say that it is safe and effective while others claim it can have adverse effects. Ask your doctor before starting any new dietary plans. “Kizer says that regardless of carb cycling, ketosis, or any other diet that people may be trying, it’s always smart to choose carbohydrates that are as whole and unprocessed as possible” (MacMillan, 2018). Switching your eating habits to whole, unprocessed food is almost universally accepted as the best way to lose weight and be healthier.

It should be noted that ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a normal part of a healthy metabolism while ketoacidosis can most often be found in people with type 1 diabetes.

 

 

How Do You Implement the Keto Diet Plan?

Depending on how strict you’d like to be with your carb intake, there are different levels of the keto diet. First though we should define what net carbs are as they become more important when implementing the keto diet.

Carbohydrates – Dietary Fiber = Net Carbs

For example, a half-cup serving of peas has 11 grams of carbohydrates. It also has 4 grams of fiber. So, the net carbs of a half-cup serving of peas would be 7 grams of carbs. Additionally, one cup of broccoli contains 6 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber. Therefore, the net carbs of one cup of broccoli would be 3.4 grams of net carbohydrates.

Returning to the point of how to implement the keto diet (and now knowing about net carbs), we should examine the different levels.

  • Strict Keto: Strict keto restricts your daily net carb intake to less than 20 grams. This means that you’re eating predominately low carb vegetables and meat. Although it’s restrictive, you’ll lose weight relatively quickly if you stick to strict keto.
  • Moderate Keto: A moderate keto diet means that you’re eating between 20-50 grams of net carbs. This allows a bit more variety in the fruits and vegetables you can eat and makes sticking to the keto diet easier.
  • Liberal Keto: Liberal keto allows you consume up to 100 grams of net carbs daily. This is the easiest form of the keto diet to follow but will also likely result in the slowest weight loss.
  • Keto Cycling: Some dieters find the keto diet much easier to follow if they cycle low carb and normal carb days. For example, some people might eat low carb for five days per week and then allow themselves to consume higher carb intake on the weekends.

 

What Can You Eat on the Keto Diet Plan?

The main focus of the keto diet is to consume whole, unprocessed foods (which is why many find it similar to the paleo diet plan).

  • Meat (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, rabbit, etc.)
  • Seafood (shrimp, salmon, tuna, scallops, cod, etc.)
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream)
  • Low-Carb Vegetables (broccoli, bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, kale, cabbage, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, etc.)
  • Low-Carb Fruits (blueberries, blackberries, avocados, coconuts, starfruit, pears, kiwi fruits, pineapples, etc.)
  • Extra Dark Chocolate

 

What Can’t You Eat on the Keto Diet Plan?

Typically, you’ll want to avoid anything processed when embarking on the keto diet plan. However, fruits and vegetables that are high in sugars or carbohydrates should also be avoided.

  • Grains (bread, oats, cereals, wheat, pastries, cookies)
  • Candy
  • Processed Foods
  • Sugary Drinks (soda, fruit juice)
  • Low Fat Items (items that are labeled as “low fat” typically contain higher sugar content)

 

Pros of the Keto Diet Plan

  • Satiety and Hunger Levels: Many people report feeling fuller for longer on the keto diet, making it easier to consume lower amounts of calories. Some dieters even report that they end up doing some intermittent fasting without even realizing it because they simply aren’t as hungry as they used to be. “Thus, the clinical benefit of a ketogenic diet is in preventing an increase in appetite, despite weight loss, although individuals may indeed feel slightly less hungry (or more full or satisfied). Ketosis appears to provide a plausible explanation for this suppression of appetite” (Gibson et al., 2015).
  • Weight Loss: If you follow the keto diet, you’re going to lose weight. “The ketogenic diet causes a rapid and sensible weight loss along with favourable biomarker changes, such as a reduction in serum hemoglobin A1c in patients with diabetes mellitus type 2” (O’Neill & Raggi, 2020).

 

Cons of the Keto Diet Plan

  • Restrictive: As with some other diet plans, the keto diet is highly restrictive when it comes to anything with high amounts of carbohydrates, even vegetables high in carbohydrates like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and corn.
  • Side Effects: There are a number of potential side effects for the keto diet including muscle cramps, constipation, headache, weakness, and rash (Ting et al., 2018). Like any change in your dietary habits, consult your doctor before starting on the keto diet.

 

Books on the Keto Diet Plan

  • Keto Diet For Dummies (Abrams & Abrams): “Keto Diet For Dummies is your all-in-one resource for learning about the keto diet, getting started and reaping the full benefits like so many others have. The keto diet has gained immense popularity due to its effectiveness and the ever-growing science backing it. Keto Diet For Dummies provides you with the information and resources you need to succeed and achieve your goals.”
  • The Keto Diet: The Complete Guide to a High-Fat Diet, with More Than 125 Delectable Recipes and 5 Meal Plans to Shed Weight, Heal Your Body, and Regain Confidence (Vogel): “The Keto Diet does away with the “one size fits all” philosophy offering a customizable approach that is tailored to the unique needs of the individual. Leanne provides the tools to empower everyone to develop a personalized nutrition plan, offering limitless options while taking away the many restrictions of a traditional ketogenic diet.”
  • Simply Keto: A Practical Approach to Health & Weight Loss, with 100+ Easy Low-Carb Recipes (Ryan): “Her first book, Simply Keto, isn’t just a cookbook; it’s a portal into Suzanne’s life and dieting success—how she accomplished the incredible feat of losing almost 40 percent of her total body weight and developed a healthier and more balanced relationship with food. In this book, she shares everything you need to know to get started and find your own success.”

 

Evidence-Based Studies on the Keto Diet Plan

  • Reduced Inflammation: “A widely used ketogenic diet (KD), which is extremely high in fat with very low carbohydrates, drives the host into using β-hydroxybutyrate for the production of ATP and lowers NLRP3-mediated inflammation” (Goldberg et al., 2020).
  • Best in Small Doses: “This reduces diabetes risk and inflammation, and improves the body’s metabolism, said Dixit, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Comparative Medicine and of Immunobiology. After a week on the keto diet, he said, mice show a reduction in blood sugar levels and inflammation” (Belli, 2020).
  • Increased Endurance: “These results suggest that KD has the potential to be used as a fatigue-preventing and/or recovery-promoting diet approach in endurance athletes” (Huang et al., 2018).
  • Weight Loss: “The rapid and sustained weight and fat mass (FM) loss induced by the [very low carb keto] diet is associated with good food control and improvements in the psychological well-being parameters in obese subjects, which could contribute to the long-term success of this therapy” (Castro et al., 2018).

Diet Plan Information: Paleo Diet

 

What is the Paleo Diet Plan?

The Paleolithic (paleo) diet plan is a diet that is based on consuming whole, unprocessed foods that would have been available to our paleolithic, hunter-gatherer ancestors before the invention of farming. After farming, early humans’ diet shifted from meat, vegetables, and seasonal fruits to processed grains like wheat which was ground into bread.

The paleo diet (sometimes called the “Caveman Diet”) has become more popular over the last several decades as both a health-boosting and weight loss inducing diet. The main argument is that our ancestors evolved without having to consume grains or processed foods so there is no need for us to consume them, either. Even modern hunter-gatherer societies consume a mostly paleo diet: “After studying the diets of living hunter-gatherers and concluding that 73 percent of these societies derived more than half their calories from meat, Cordain came up with his own Paleo prescription: Eat plenty of lean meat and fish” (National Geographic).

 

How Does the Paleo Diet Plan Work?

Like many other diets, the paleo diet is a whole food diet that eliminates processed foods, making it more difficult to over-consume calories. It’s a lot harder to eat 2.5 cups of blueberries than it is to eat one Snickers bar (nor are you likely to consume that many blueberries in one sitting). It’s also harder to eat ten carrots than one small slice of carrot cake.

The paleo diet is sometimes referred to a “simple” diet in that you eat what our prehistoric ancestors would have eaten. “A simplified way of eating healthily by excluding highly-processed foods, is presumed to be the Paleolithic diet (a diet based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, organ meats) which improves insulin resistance, ameliorates dyslipidemia, reduces hypertension and may reduce the risk of age-related diseases” (Tarantino, Citro & Finelli, 2015).

A list of processed versus unprocessed foods.

 

What Can You Eat on the Paleo Diet Plan?

Essentially, you can eat any food that is unprocessed. If it can be found in nature without requiring additional processing, you can eat it. For example, it is possible to go out and pick some blackberries from a bush and eat them without them needing more processing like being turned into jam or baked into a pie.

  • Meat (beef, venison, rabbit, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, etc.)
  • Seafood (salmon, cod, trout, shrimp, crab, oyster, etc.)
  • Eggs (chicken eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, goose eggs)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, spinach, bok choy, cauliflower, kale, cucumber, onions, squash, carrots, etc.)
  • Fruits (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, oranges, apples, grapefruit, apricots, avocados, etc.)
  • Some Nuts (almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc.)
  • Seeds (sesame seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Herbs and Spices
  • Healthy Fats and Oils (coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc.)

 

What Can’t You Eat on the Paleo Diet Plan?

Anything processed is not allowed on the paleo diet plan. The simple rule of thumb is that if it looks like it was made in a factory and you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the list, don’t eat it.

  • Anything with Added Sugar (ice cream, candy, fruit juice, table sugar, pastries, granola bars, energy bars)
  • Grains (bread, wheat, barley, oats, rice)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, quinoa)
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Alcohol (wine, beer, spirits)

It should be noted that different versions of the paleo diet allow for certain additional food items in the prohibited food groups. For example, some versions of paleo allow for full-fat versions of butter and cheese to be incorporated into the diet.

 

Pros of the Paleo Diet

  • Weight Loss: If you’re used to consuming a ton of processed foods and sugars, it is highly likely that you’re going to lose weight on the paleo diet. Again, it’s much harder to over-consume on calories if you’re eating non-processed foods.
  • Simple to Follow: If our ancestors didn’t eat it, you don’t eat it. Obviously our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t have access to cakes, pies, sugary soda, bread, or anything else processed like that. They did however have access to seasonal fruits and vegetables and hunted meat.

 

Cons of the Paleo Diet

  • Exaggerated Claims: Many proponents of the paleo diet suggest that it is a cure-all diet that can help you lose weight and be healthier. While this isn’t necessarily untrue, the paleo diet is not a panacea for every health issue nor for everyone who wants to lose weight.
  • Some Nutrient Deficiencies: The paleo diet does lack sufficient levels of certain nutrients which may need to be supplemented via vitamin or mineral pills. “GPs should caution patients who are on the Palaeolithic diet about adequate calcium intake, especially those at higher risk of osteoporosis” (Pitt, 2016).

 

Books on the Paleo Diet

  • The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat (Loren Cordain): “Healthy, delicious, and simple, the Paleo Diet is the diet we were designed to eat. Eat for better health and weight loss the Paleo way with this revised edition of the bestselling guide—over 100,000 copies sold to date!”
  • Practical Paleo, 2nd Edition (Updated and Expanded): A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle (Sanfilippo et al.): “With more than half a million copies sold, the first edition of Practical Paleo revolutionized the way we think about food and our bodies. Dubbed “The Paleo Bible” by readers, it explained how simply eating real, whole foods and avoiding processed, refined foods can improve our health—including reducing or even eliminating symptoms associated with common health disorders.”
  • The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (Robb Wolf): “The Paleo Solution incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology to help you look, feel and perform your best. Written by Robb Wolf, a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat and pocket protector for a whistle and a stopwatch to become one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches in the world.”

 

Evidence-Based Studies on the Paleo Diet

  • Paleo Diet May Reduce Mortality: “Findings from this biracial prospective study suggest that diets closer to Paleolithic or Mediterranean diet patterns may be inversely associated with all-cause and cause-specific mortality” (Whalen et al., 2017).
  • Improved Glucose Control and Lipid Profiles in Type 2 Diabetes: “Even short-term consumption of a Paleolithic-type diet improved glucose control and lipid profiles in people with type 2 diabetes compared with a conventional diet containing moderate salt intake, low-fat dairy, whole grains and legumes” (Masharani et al., 2015).
  • Lower Disease Risk: “A simplified way of eating healthily by excluding highly-processed foods, is presumed to be the Paleolithic diet (a diet based on vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, organ meats) which improves insulin resistance, ameliorates dyslipidemia, reduces hypertension and may reduce the risk of age-related diseases” (Tarantino, Citro & Finelli, 2015).

Diet Plan Information: Intermittent Fasting

 

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a method of eating (for either health or weight loss reasons) that restricts calorie consumption to a specified period of time. A common intermittent fasting diet is the 16:8 plan in which you consume your daily calories only in one 8 hour window per day and then fast for the remaining 16 hours. Some fasting plans require that you abstain from all food for one to two days per week while eating normally on the other days.

 

How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

There is little contention on the fact that intermittent fasting works but how it works is still up for debate. Some studies point to the differences in how your body burns energy when you’re in a fasted state versus a non-fasting state: “During fasting, the body uses up glucose and glycogen, then turns to energy reserves stored in fat… in the form of chemicals called ketones. These chemicals help cells—especially brain cells—keep working at full capacity” (National Institute on Aging).

Other researchers have suggested that there are other reasons that intermittent fasting works: “Intermittent fasting regimens are hypothesized to influence metabolic regulation via effects on (a) circadian biology, (b) the gut microbiome, and (c) modifiable lifestyle behaviors, such as sleep” (Patterson & Sears, 2017). For example, if you’re only eating from the hours of 10 AM to 6 PM, that compulsion to go in the fridge for that late-night snack won’t be as strong.

 

Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

There is very little debate on the safety of intermittent fasting diets simply because it has been studied extensively over a number of decades. Intermittent fasting may also have a variety of other health benefits, including extending your lifespan: “In many experiments, calorie-restricted feeding delayed the onset of age-related disorders and, in some studies, extended lifespan” (National Institute on Aging).

Other studies suggest that there are more potential benefits to intermittent fasting, especially for insulin-related health issues like diabetes: “An [intermittent fasting diet] may provide a significant metabolic benefit by improving glycemic control, insulin resistance, and adipokine concentration with a reduction of BMI in adults” (Cho et al., 2019).

It should be noted that more studies need to be conducted on human patients as many studies have been conducted on animals. Because researchers were able to almost perfectly control their animal subjects’ caloric intake, the data is considered accurate in most cases. However, in human studies, there is no guarantee that the human subjects actually adhered to either the fasting intervals or to the caloric restrictions, if there were any. There may be some interactions that are adverse for some people who try intermittent fasting so, as always, speak with your doctor before you start on any diet plan.

 

Types of Intermittent Fasting

There are a number of different intermittent fasting programs that you can implement to help you lose weight. It’s important to do your own research to find out which fasting plan is best for you and your life, your weight loss needs, and your health. Please note that there are other methods of intermittent fasting in addition to these but these tend to be the most popular.

  • 16:8 Intermittent Fasting: The 16:8 intermittent fasting plan (sometimes called the 16:8 diet) states that you eat all of your daily calories in the 8-hour window while abstaining from anything with calories (water, black coffee, and plain tea are okay) for the remaining 16 hours in the day. For example, your window to consume food might be between the hours of 11 AM to 7 PM. This would allow you to consume lunch and dinner within the normal eating hours while skipping breakfast.
  • 5:2 Eating: Another type of intermittent fasting is called 5:2 eating (also known as alternate day fasting). This means that you’ll eat normally for five days per week and then on two days, you restrict your caloric intake to around 500 calories per day. For example, you might eat normally on all days except for Mondays and Thursdays.
  • Periodic Fasting: Periodic fasting is done sometimes for varying periods of time, hence the name. Some people like to fast for a weekend or for several days to jump-start their weight loss while others go on extended fasts. “The results from 1422 subjects showed for the first time that Buchinger periodic fasting lasting from 4 to 21 days is safe and well-tolerated. It led to enhancement of emotional and physical well-being and improvements in relevant cardiovascular and general risk factors, as well as subjective health complaints” (de Toledo, 2019).

 

Tips for Intermittent Fasting

For a lot of people, the thought of not eating for an extended period of time can be off-putting. Thankfully there are a number of tips to help suppress and/or control your hunger

  • Drink More Water: Many times, when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just thirsty. Whenever you think you’re getting the stomach grumbles, drink a large glass of water and then wait around half an hour to see if you’re still hungry.
  • Enjoy Cinnamon Tea: Cinnamon has been shown to help reduce body weight, namely as an appetite suppressant (Mousavi et al, 2020). It should be noted that cinnamon also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and lipid-lowering effects (Kawatra & Rajagopalan, 2015). Here are the top-rated cinnamon teas from Amazon.
  • Eat More Protein: Consuming more protein can help you feel fuller longer and deter you from snacking outside of your eating hours (Westerterp-Plantenga, Lemmens & Westerterp, 2012).

 

Pros of Intermittent Fasting

  • No Calorie Counting – Unless You Want To: Numerous studies have proven that just limiting the hours in which you consume food on a daily basis can help you lose weight, even without counting calories (Gabel et al., 2018). Of course, you’re still welcome to count calories or combine intermittent fasting with another diet like the Atkins diet or the Mediterranean diet.
  • Tons of Research: Intermittent fasting has been studied extensively for many decades, meaning that there are a ton of studies out there on the benefits and risks. (Note all of the citations in this article alone!) Thankfully, the vast majority of studies point to the vast number of potential health benefits and relatively few risks.
  • Numerous Potential Health Benefits: Aside from weight loss, there are a number of other health benefits to intermittent fasting including “increased resistance against oxidative stress, decreased inflammation, and promoting longevity” (Stockman et al., 2018).

 

Cons of Intermittent Fasting

  • Periods of No Food: For some people who enjoy eating and enjoying food, intermittent fasting may be tough to adhere to simply because there are periods of time where you can’t eat anything.
  • Potential Temporary Weakness: Especially in the early days and weeks of intermittent fasting, you may feel sapped of energy for a time. Ideally, your body will adjust to the changes and this should only be a temporary drawback.
  • More Studies Needed For Some Groups: More studies need to be conducted for certain subsets of the population, including premenopausal women, the elderly, those with type 2 diabetes, and normal-weight subjects (Harvie & Howell, 2017).

 

Books on Intermittent Fasting

  • Delay, Don’t Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle (Gin Stephens & Dr. Kenneth Power): “Tired of counting calories, eliminating foods from your diet, or obsessing about food all day? If so, an intermittent fasting lifestyle might be for you! In this book, you will learn the science behind intermittent fasting, and also understand how to adjust the various intermittent fasting plans to work for your unique lifestyle.”
  • The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended Fasting (Dr. Jason Fung & Jimmy Moore): “Fasting is not about starving oneself. When done right, it’s an incredibly effective therapeutic approach that produces amazing results regardless of diet plan. In fact, Toronto-based nephrologist Dr. Jason Fung has used a variety of fasting protocols with more than 1,000 patients, with fantastic success. In The Complete Guide to Fasting, he has teamed up with international bestselling author and veteran health podcaster Jimmy Moore to explain what fasting is really about, why it’s so important, and how to fast in a way that improves health.”
  • The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss (Dr. Jason Fung): “Everything you believe about how to lose weight is wrong. Weight gain and obesity are driven by hormones—in everyone—and only by understanding the effects of insulin and insulin resistance can we achieve lasting weight loss.”

 

Evidence-Based Studies on Intermittent Fasting

  • 16:8 Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss: “These findings suggest that 8-h time restricted feeding produces mild caloric restriction and weight loss, without calorie counting. It may also offer clinical benefits by reducing blood pressure” (Gabel et al., 2018).
  • Intermittent Fasting and Weight Loss: “All studies reported significant weight loss for [intermittent energy restriction] groups. Average weight loss was approximately [0.44-1.7 lbs.] per week” (Davis et al., 2015).
  • Numerous Health Benefits: “At the cellular level, IF may also increase resistance against oxidative stress, decrease inflammation, and promote longevity” (Stockman et al., 2018).
  • Intermittent Fasting and Cardiovascular Health Benefits: “The IF diet limits many risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases and therefore the occurrence of these diseases” (Malinowski et al., 2019).
  • Intermittent Fasting on the Lipid Profile: “Normocaloric and hypocaloric intermittent fasting may be a dietary method to aid in the improvement of the lipid profile in healthy, obese and dyslipidemic men and women by reducing total cholesterol, LDL, triglycerides and increasing HDL levels” (Santos & Macedo, 2018).

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