Diet. One little word that brings many things to mind. For some people, it brings up negative feelings and connotations like deprivation, hunger, restriction, and sometimes even anger or frustration. Diet used as a noun is usually positive (or at the very least neutral). Diet used as a verb though…now that can get people all fired up and possibly inspire a heated debate. Ones diet and beliefs about food can be a very personal thing; right up there with politics or religion. I need a true definition here so I can wrap my brain around what’s what.
noun: diet; plural noun: diets
- the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats; “a vegetarian diet”
- a regular occupation or series of activities in which one participates. “a healthy diet of classical music”
- a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. “I’m going on a diet.”
- (of food or drink) with reduced fat or sugar content. modifier noun: diet “diet soft drinks”
verb: diet; 3rd person present: diets; past tense: dieted; past participle: dieted; gerund or present participle: dieting
- restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight. “It’s difficult to diet.”
So, I have now defined it…actually the dictionary defined it and I copied and pasted. The question I get from people often is “What diet works?” What diet works, indeed, is the ultimate question that really only has one clear answer. The diet that works is…drumroll please…is the diet that is right for you and works with your lifestyle. It’s the diet (and I am using it as a noun, not a verb) that can be maintained over the long haul and has little or no negative side effects.
Does the Paleo Diet work? Sure, for some people. Does a Gluten Free Diet work? Sure, for some people. The bottom line is, can you successfully lose weight or improve your health AND maintain that loss or health improvement over time? Weight loss maintenance over 10 years or more is much more difficult to accomplish for most people than the actual weight loss itself.
My friend Victoria recently invited me to an Alternate Day Fasting group on FB. I was intrigued. Then a few weeks later my friend Jennifer told me her sister had lost a significant amount of weight over the past year using the same method. Victoria has been following the diet for some time now and Jennifer was looking to enlist the buddy system to see if Alternate Day or Intermittent Fasting could work for her.
I’m in. I want to shed that extra 10 lbs I originally started with when I birthed this blog. I also want to see if this type of a diet could work for some of my future clients. The Dietitian is officially trying out her first “diet” plan at age 40! The crew on the Alternate Day Fasting Facebook page have given me some good ideas and last week I had 2 of my first ever DD’s. I learned that’s an abbreviation for Down Days and UD is used for Up Days. I also did some research into the science behind the diet.
Some of the most recent research was conducted by Dr. Mark P. Mattson, Chief of the Laboratory of Neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging. He is also a professor of Neuroscience at John Hopkins University. The researchers, who also included the BBC’s Michael Mosley, reviewed previous studies on intermittent fasting and concluded that this type of eating could be healthier than eating three meals or more per day. Their work was published, and has been published many times in the past. Some of those studies are linked later in the article.
One recommended way of doing it, is known as the “5:2 Diet.” On the 5:2 plan, you cut your food down to one-fourth of your normal daily calories on fasting days (about 600 calories for men and about 500 for women), along with plenty of water and tea. On the other five days of the week, you can eat normally.
Although major research efforts have focused on how specific components of foodstuffs affect health, relatively little is known about a more fundamental aspect of diet, the frequency and circadian timing of meals, and potential benefits of intermittent periods with no or very low energy intakes. The most common eating pattern in modern societies, three meals plus snacks every day, is abnormal from an evolutionary perspective.
Emerging findings from studies of animal models and human subjects suggest that intermittent energy restriction periods of as little as 16 h can improve health indicators and counteract disease processes. The mechanisms involve a metabolic shift to fat metabolism and ketone production, and stimulation of adaptive cellular stress responses that prevent and repair molecular damage. As data on the optimal frequency and timing of meals crystalizes, it will be critical to develop strategies to incorporate those eating patterns into health care policy and practice, and the lifestyles of the population.
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
I have to say, the first day was difficult. My goal was 500 calories and I ended the day closer to 700 calories. Day 2 proved to be easier and I ended the day at 600 calories. I noticed several things and also took notes like a college student from the Alternate Day Fasting group. Chia seeds in a large glass of ice water became my BFF. Also, I felt less hungry on my “Up Days” which I did not anticipate. Deprivation of a reasonable degree is allowing me to not “give in” to every minor hunger pang I feel.
I have always relied on intuitive eating and my extensive knowledge as a Dietitian to guide my eating. I will continue to blog about my endeavors into this new world (for me) of a more planned eating regimen. I will also post some recipes that help fill up the belly while keeping calories very low.
Cheers to trying something new and boldly going where few Dietitians have gone before!