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New year, new you: Could intermittent fasting be the key to weight loss?

You may be working toward a healthier lifestyle this new year and there’s a specific style of weight loss gaining popularity.

LYNDHURST, Ohio — New year, new you? You may be working toward a healthier lifestyle this new year and there’s a specific style of weight loss gaining popularity.

“I definitely think it could be the new thing and the thing I like about it is that it’s not just a fad diet,” explains Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Anna Kippen.

“I consider to be a fad diet anything that cuts out entire food groups, is unrealistic and promises unlimited eating and incredible amounts of rapid weight loss, and that is not this.”

Kippen is referring to intermittent fasting. What she calls an umbrella term for various diets that cycle between fasting and non-fasting over defined sets of time.

Two very popular types are 16:8 and 5:2.

16:8 is sixteen hours a day of fasting and eight hours a day eating, done seven days a week.

“We’re better off eating the majority of our calories during the time of day we’re most active,” she says.

“7am to 3pm is really a good time frame and really no later than 10am-6pm ideally.”

During fasting hours you still have water, black coffee or plain tea.

“This is something that works for a lot of people because it’s not necessarily limiting our portions, changing our diet drastically.  It works within what you already do but it is important that you eat a healthy balanced diet during your feeding hours,” Kippen explains.

5:2 is another popular option.  You’re eating a healthy balanced diet five days out of the week.  The other two you’re eating 25-percent of your calories which Kippen says is about 600 calories a day for men and 500 for women.

“This is just a method that a lot of patients love because it’s not really necessarily something that requires them to follow through every single day, they get to choose which days they do it,” she says.

“Try not to chose fasting days the same as exercise days, we tend to get hungrier when we exercise, you’re less likely to be successful.”

So is it safe long term?

Kippen says the jury is still out.

“We do have a lot of studies that show it is effective for weight loss,” she explains.

Kippen says, studies have shown improvements in insulin resistance, decreased blood sugars, decreased cholesterol and decreased blood pressure.

“There’s a lot of benefit that we’re seeing but ultimately it’s very, very limited especially in humans.  The majority of our studies are actually in animals which don’t always apply humans.”

She says the biggest thing to know is that those with chronic conditions, like diabetes or eating disorders, should not be trying intermittent fasting.  She suggests anyone interested in this change reach out to a doctor and dietitian.

“Diet and nutrition is very personalized and I think it’s a lot more individualized than people realize. What works for one person would not work for someone else,” she explains. 

“If you’re someone who likes to get drinks and dinner a couple of times a week with your friends this is going to significantly alter your lifestyle and it may not be worth the weight loss for you.”

No matter what she recommends vegetables calling them a “weight loss miracle.”  They are high in fiber, low in calories and carbs.

"Going on diets just simply does not work, that's what we know," Kippen explains. 

"Any changes we make if we don't feel they're sustainable they're likely not going to be successful in terms of keeping the weight off."