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It’s easy for people to dismiss intermittent fasting as another fringe diet, an outlandish strategy for weight loss.
We’ve been turned into dietary skeptics (rightfully so) by pop diets — you know, fads like the grapefruit diet, the cabbage soup diet, the cookie diet, the Acai berry diet, and the disgustingly ludicrous tapeworm diet.
But when we pit the modern American diet against those of the rest of the world, we realize ours is not such a great diet after all. The modern American diet — whether in food composition, eating style, or meal schedule — has helped promote overweight and obesity in 2 out of 3 people.
Some cultures eat only meats and fats, some mostly whole grains, others freely include refined carbs like bread and pastry; but, regardless of diet types, those cultures with the leanest and disease-free populations share a common denominator: an avoidance of overeating.
These days most of us are aware that studies on calorie restriction (CR) show numerous favorable health benefits. My blog has also linked to many studies that show intermittent fasting (IF) promotes in animals and human the same health benefits as CR but without the discomfort associated with a perpetually low calorie intake.
Yet the average person dismisses IF but doesn’t question the popular recommendation of eating snacks between meals, which is a practice frowned upon not only by some cultures but by past generations here in North America. In many people, snacking between meals may play a role in overweight and obesity.
I’m not saying that snacking is a bad thing, but it has its limitation and drawbacks, especially for those possessing the propensity for overweight. The point is that we accept the advice of an eating pattern that may not be suitable to all people, while dismissing others (like IF) that may help those who struggle with weight.
Not only is the popular advice of snacking a poor generalization, but it’s often accompanied by the threat that our metabolism would “drop” if we don’t eat every three hours. This advice has no scientific support but only evidence to the contrary.
What about the metabolism of those in cultures that don’t regularly snack? These people apparently remain leaner and mostly free of diseases.
What about the metabolism of our grandparents, or great grandparents, who smacked our hands from the kitchen counter in order to save our appetite for dinner? Their generation might have known something that’s been commercially washed out of our brain.
I’m not saying that intermittent fasting is the magic bullet. The key is still calorie control. Intermittent fasting just allows those of us who tend to be overweight to control calories easier — without negative effects, and with all the health benefits.
Intermittent fasting — it’s a great option for those trying to lose weight (a lot or a little), and to maintain weight, while enjoying the health benefits.