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A New Option for Weight Loss

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Intermittent fasting is trendy. But does it work?

I have to be honest: I hear the term “fasting” and I’m like, “Nooooo way.” Girlfriend does not skip a meal unless there is medical testing involved. Bring me some nice buckwheat pancakes, please. However, I keep reading that intermittent fasting is suitable even for die-hard foodies like me, so I’m opening my mind a bit. A new study backs up the trend, so let’s take a look at the research.

Intermittent fasting is an umbrella term; it means skipping meals on purpose. The idea is that the body is both taking in less calories, and, is being forced to pull from stored energy (fat) rather than having a newly eaten meal to grab easy energy from. A new study from the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at the 16:8 fast and determined it was effective in reducing weight and lowering blood pressure in obese people.

Researchers worked with 23 volunteers who had a BMI of 35 and an average age of 45. They were allowed to eat any type of food, in any quantity, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., but in the other 16 hours, would drink only water or other calorie-free beverages. After 12 weeks, they had lost about 3 percent of their body weight on average and their blood pressure had decreased by about 7 mm HG.

“The take-home message from this study is that there are options for weight loss that do not include calorie counting or eliminating certain foods,” wrote the study’s corresponding author, Krista Varady, an associate professor of kinesiology and nutrition in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences. She noted that the results in this study were similar to the results seen in studies on alternate day fasting, another version of intermittent fasting. “But one of the benefits of the 16:8 diet is that it is easier for people to maintain,” she writes. The researchers noted that fewer participants dropped out of this study when compared to studies on other fasting diets. “The 16:8 diet is another tool for weight loss that we now have preliminary scientific evidence to support,” Varady said. “When it comes to weight loss, people need to find what works for them because even small amounts of success can lead to improvements in metabolic health.”


Kathryn Drury Wagner

Spirituality & Health’s Wellbeing Editor, Kathryn Drury Wagner, is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle. 


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