Is Intermittent Fasting Right for You?


Intermittent fasting involves going some period of time—from a few hours to a few days—eating little (as few as 500 calories per day) to no food at all.

There are three popular variations of intermittent fasting:

  • 5-2
    For five days of the week, you eat anything you want, and then for the remaining two days, you fast. In this plan, fasting is defined as consuming just 500 calories for the entire day for women and 600 calories for men.
  • Alternate Day
    One day, you eat whatever you want (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. only), and the next day you fast, repeating this alternate pattern for as long as desired. Here, fasting means only 500 calories for both men and women.
  • Time Restriction
    This style allows you to eat whatever you want between the hours of noon and 8 p.m.—nothing before and nothing after.

Like most weight loss plans, there are pros and cons. Here’s a quick look at both sides:

On the positive side, some research suggests IF can help with weight loss. When you limit the number of hours you eat, you’re effectively clipping off calories from your daily total. Put simply, fewer calories = weight loss. (But of course, this is true of all calorie-controlled diets, and there’s limited evidence that fasting is better than traditional calorie-restrictive plans.)

Some research shows a beneficial effect on blood sugar, diabetes risk and heart disease.

On fasting days, you’re more likely to savor every bite and chew more slowly. In other words, you’ll actually taste your food (versus gobbling it down).

And with so few calories to spend, you’ll want to make the most of them. Instead of eating 600 calories worth of salami or cookies, you’ll want to choose nutrient-packed lean chicken, broccoli and eggs and drink lots of water. It’s absolutely critical to choose foods that fuel energy and provide vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Finally, because you’re trying to lose weight, you’re likely to make thoughtful choices on your “non-fasting” days, as well. Overall, you’ll learn a very important lesson: Every calorie counts.

No surprise here, but fasting is linked to hunger, which can lead to overeating. This can happen—you are so proud of yourself for making it through the fasting part, you wind up overeating or binging on the non-fasting days, which will most definitely cancel out all hopes of weight loss.

The lack of calories can lead to crankiness, low-energy and headaches, which is no fun. We’re all so busy working, carpooling, running around just trying to fit everything in. No one has the time to feel lousy or irritable.

And let’s face it, this type of plan runs counter to the way most of us have learned to eat. We’re used to fueling throughout the day, everyday. We wake up and eat breakfast. Meet friends for lunch, and enjoy family meals together. Food is fuel, food is friendship, food is family.


There is nothing inherently magical about the strategy, but it can be an effective means of controlling caloric intake, and thus, help with weight loss. And it can be used in conjunction with other diet plans, like Paleo, Weight Watchers, low-carb, low-fat, or with no specific diet plan at all.

However, intermittent fasting is certainly not for everyone.

Note: Before staring any new diet plan, make sure to check in with your doctor, especially if you’re taking medication or dealing with a medical condition.