What’s UP with IF? 

Do you even know what intermittent fasting (IF) really means, what the research shows, and who it could possibly benefit? What are the types of IF? Why do people want to explore this option for reasons besides weight loss?

There are answers to these questions but before you just ask me “oh, hey, should I do IF, I know someone who did it and lost 20 lbs”, first please take a look at your life, at the big picture, and think about what are realistic ways you can slowly change for the better, instead of just automatically asking me if you should not eat until the afternoon. There are so many things you should focus on modifying first when it comes to your habits before even contemplating something like IF! Most of my clients barely eat all day to begin with and that’s their main problem! Then the late afternoon rolls around and the hanger, cravings, and food binges set in.

In my opinion, if you are normal person with a normal busy mom life, who is not a competitive athlete, but rather someone who dabbles in daily moderate mom workouts like Isaac Boots and Melissa Wood Health, IF will only cause you to overeat in the later part of the day. I’ve seen it countless times. It does not work well for us normal peeps. We can barely get enough water or vegetables in our lives! Let’s get real and before you ask me if you should try IF, learn about the basics of nutrition first, try making healthier choices, be more mindful about your habits, cut the added junk out, and lots of other way more important and impactful lifelong changes that do not have to do with skipping calories all day or in my case, my most favorite meal of the day, breakfast baby!

So if you’re interested in IF, do it at night when you don’t actually need calories anymore. Eat dinner, maybe a little dessert, and then don’t eat until breakfast again! What a concept! Instead of mindlessly munching on candy, ice cream and chips until bedtime, cut out the unnecessary extras after dinner. Now that 10-12 hours of digestive rest at night will make a significant positive difference in your health. Try that first. Then we can talk.

So to answer some of the IF basics if you’re still wondering, here we go.  IF is basically fasting for periods of time between meals, usually for around 10-16 hours at time, or in some cases for 24 hours, for proposed benefits such as weight loss and autophagy.  Autophagy, or “self-eating” which is kind of a freaky way to put it, is basically your body getting rid of old damaged cells and replacing them with newer healthier cells. Now that is a benefit I can stand behind but as a busy mom, there is no way I am fasting for longer than 12 hours and if so, it’s only when I’m sleeping!

The problem with fasting for weight loss however, is that it’s not practical for real life. When you have to decline social plans because you’re not eating until a certain time or you have to stop eating at let’s say 7:00pm, that poses a problem in life.

Back to my point. I would much rather you learn about nutrition and improve the habits that need a makeover first before diving into something more complicated like IF.  There is so much more you can practically do first to change your life for the better!  Once you’re feeling healthy and ready to dabble in self-experiments like IF for certain personal reasons, be my guest.  But do your homework first before just expecting to suddenly not eat for long periods of time during the day!  Hello HANGRY.  Not fun at all!  So call it what you want but that’s why I am big fan of referring to IF as instead “digestive rest” and not eating after dinner until breakfast on most days because that’s really our problem in modern life.  Leave your questions or comments and let’s discuss! 

Laura Burak, MS, RD, CDN

Laura Burak

Hi, my name is Laura Burak and I am a registered dietitian, a foodie, a wannabe chef, a yogi and a mama in the Long Island suburbs outside NYC. I have been passionate about delicious, fresh food from an early age and began cooking healthier meals for my family when I was a teenager.

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