Client Connection

What We Know About Intermittent Fasting

It’s that time of year when Google sees an uptick in searches for ‘healthy diets’ and ‘diets for weight loss’. While intermittent fasting (IF) has been around for decades, it has been popularized more recently and is being used as a strategy for losing weight and improving health. While studies in animals are promising, the long-term effects of IF in humans is still largely unknown. 

What’s known: Intermittent fasting could help with weight and overall health management.

There are several different ways to do intermittent fasting, but they are all based on choosing regular time periods to eat or not eat, i.e., “fast”. When we eat, we pump nutrients into our bloodstream that can be used for immediate energy and/or stored for later use, generally as glycogen and fat. In contrast, when we fast, our body eventually exhausts the nutrients available in the bloodstream and is forced to start metabolizing its energy stores. When our body runs out of sugars available for use from the bloodstream or storage (i.e., glycogen), it starts burning fat for energy instead.

The process of moving from burning primarily sugars to fat is called metabolic switching. Metabolic switching is thought to be the critical biological factor contributing to the touted health benefits of fasting. Such health benefits include improved metabolic and cardiovascular health, blood sugar control, weight management, and improved cognition. However, importantly, much of the research showing biological benefits of intermittent fasting are done in animals. The fewer studies done with humans have shown that intermittent fasting does not always promote greater weight loss or health benefits than typical calorie restricting or consistent meal (e.g., three meals per day) diets. Moreover, when fasting we need to make sure we are not eating so few calories that our body starts to preserve energy stores (i.e., hold onto fat) because it thinks we’re starving!

Common intermittent fasting regimens:

  • Alternate-day fasting
    • Alternating fasting days, where no calorie-containing foods are consumed, with non-fasting days
  • Modified fasting, a.k.a. 5:2 diet
    • Severe energy restriction (20-25% of estimated energy needs) for 2 days of the week and regular/non-restricted eating the remaining 5 days
  • Time-restricted feeding
    • Fast and eating within restricted time windows each day. Daily fasting intervals vary widely, with one of the most popular regimens today being 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of regular eating.

*Non-caloric beverages, including black coffee and tea are allowed on fasting days.

**It is recommended to follow a balanced diet rich in high-quality whole grains, lean proteins, and a variety of fruits and vegetables when not fasting.

What’s not known: Is intermittent fasting right for you?

Intermittent fasting promises a lot, however, knowing whether it is the right dietary pattern for you is important. Science tells us that intermittent fasting is not appropriate for children and teens under 18 years old, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people with diabetes or other blood sugar problems, or those with a history of eating disorders. Also, while there is a substantial amount of evidence supporting the health benefits of intermittent fasting in animals, there is still limited data in humans, including limited knowledge about the long-term effects on health and weight management.

The Bottom Line: If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting, talk with your dietitian and doctor before starting to ensure you have the best personalized plan in place.

  • Schultz Financial Group, Inc. (“SFG”) which is a registered investment adviser, drafted this blog post for its website and for the use of its clients or potential clients. Any other distribution of this blog post is strictly prohibited. Registration as an investment adviser is not an endorsement by securities regulators and does not imply that SFG has attained a certain level of skill, training, or ability. While the content presented is believed to be factual and up to date, it is based on information obtained from a variety of sources. SFG believes this information is reliable, however, it has not necessarily been independently verified. SFG does not guarantee the complete accuracy of all data in this blog post, and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of SFG as of the date of publication and are subject to change. This blog post does not constitute personalized advice from SFG or its affiliated investment professionals, or a solicitation to execute specific securities transactions. SFG is not a law firm and does not intend for any content to be construed as legal advice. Readers should not use any of this content as the sole basis for any investment, financial planning, tax, legal or other decisions. Rather, SFG recommends that readers consult SFG and their other professional advisers (including their lawyers and accountants) and consider independent due diligence before implementing any of the options directly or indirectly referenced in this blog post. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss, and different investments and types of investments involve varying degrees of risk. There can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including those undertaken or recommended by SFG, will be profitable or equal any historical performance level. Any index performance data directly or indirectly referenced in this blog post is based on data from the respective copyright holders, trademark holders, or publication/distribution right owners of each index. The indexes do not reflect the deduction of transaction fees, custodial charges, or management fees, which would decrease historical performance results. Indexes are unmanaged, and investors cannot invest directly in an index. Additional information about SFG, including its Form ADV Part 2A describing its services, fees, and applicable conflicts of interest and Form CRS is available upon request and at https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/108724.

  • More Insights from SFG

    19
    January, 2023
    Estate and Gift Tax Limits for 2023

    The IRS has announced the estate and gift tax exemptions for 2023.