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Diet Review: Should You Try Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss?

Intermittent fasting is a popular diet trend of the moment. What is it, how do you do it, and should you be intermittent fasting for weight loss?

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What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting (IF) is a popular diet and style of eating that involves periods of eating and abstaining from eating. There are several styles of IF, but in general, a person will eat whatever they want within a constricted timeframe, and fast during the rest of the time.

Many people try intermittent fasting for weight loss. Supporters claim that IF creates metabolic changes that make it a more effective tool for weight loss than traditional caloric restriction. Is it easier to lose weight on IF because of metabolic changes in your body? Read on to find out.

Styles of intermittent fasting

There are several intermittent fasting schedules people may choose to follow. The most common involve alternate day fasting, modified fasting regimens, and time-restricted feeding (1).

  • Alternate Day Fasting: This style combines fasting days when nothing is consumed, and feeding days, when you can eat and drink whatever you want.
  • Modified Fasting Regimen: Similar to alternate day fasting, a modified fasting regimen involves days where you eat and drink whatever you want. But, instead of completely fasting on fasting days, you severely restrict your intake to 20-25% of your energy needs.
  • Time-Restricted Feeding: During time-restricted feeding, you eat food every day but within a predetermined time restraint. Therefore, you are fasting from ~12-21 hours each day.

What are the weight loss benefits?

Proponents of IF proclaim it has several health benefits including weight loss. Some think that IF causes increased fat loss due to lower levels of insulin in the body during fasting. Insulin is a hormone that helps our cells store energy from food. The pancreas releases insulin in response to eating food.

Support for IF says if we fast long enough, we don’t produce insulin to store food as energy. Therefore, we turn to stored energy in the form of fat, making IF more efficient for weight loss than traditional caloric restriction. Human studies have found IF can be a successful tool for weight loss (2, 3, 4, 5). But, is IF more effective for weight loss than traditional caloric restriction?

Caloric restriction for weight loss simply means you are consuming less energy than your body needs to maintain its current weight. You need to create a caloric deficit to lose weight. One pound of weight loss = cutting 3500 calories. This rule of thumb is the scientifically accepted number for weight loss.

Should you try intermittent fasting for weight loss?

Taken as a whole, IF and weight loss research can be widely attributed to the fact that IF causes a caloric deficit, and therefore produces weight loss (1, 2, 6, 7). If you’re losing weight doing intermittent fasting, it’s because you’ve created a caloric deficit.

Overall, the research supports a recommendation that intermittent fasting is a viable alternative to caloric restriction, but it is not superior. For weight loss, it doesn’t matter what time you eat, as long as you are eating less than your body needs so it burns stored energy.

It all comes down to lifestyle! Everybody is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. If your schedule allows for fasting, and you are able to do so without feeling hungry, tired, or low energy, go for it. But, if you know you need breakfast to be productive during the day, traditional caloric restriction is probably better for you.

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6 Ways to Add More Vegetables to Your Diet (That Don’t Involve Salad)

We all know it’s important to eat more vegetables. Read on for easy and creative ways to add more vegetables to your diet!

If there is one thing health professionals all agree on, it is to eat more vegetables. Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses loaded with important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Increasing vegetable consumption works for jut about any health and nutrition goal. In fact, I tell my clients to load up half their plate with vegetables at every meal!

Why you should add more vegetables to your diet

Vegetable consumption is super important for good health.Vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber – all nutrients that support our health. The current US vegetable intake guidelines recommend 2-3 cups of vegetables per day (1). But, many healthcare experts would agree that when it comes to vegetables, more is.

Several studies show higher vegetable consumption is linked to lower risk of diseases including heart disease, hypertension, and certain cancers (2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Here are some reasons why you should add more vegetables to your diet:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Help reduce high blood pressure
  • May reduce the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer
  • Helps with weight management and weight loss, when vegetables replace other refined carbohydrates in the diet (7)
  • Improve GI health, thanks to fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool, and soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also a prebiotic, so it feeds the good bacteria in our microbiome.

With all those benefits, you really can’t go wrong with loading your plate up with more vegetables! Salads are wonderful, but I understand the desire to consume vegetables in other ways. Here are six easy and delicious ways to add more vegetables to your diet – no salads involved.

1. Add vegetables to an omelet or frittata

Eggs + veggies = a match made in heaven. This makes for a super filling meal, thanks to the protein from the eggs and fiber from the veggies. I love adding spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes to my eggs! Check out the recipe for this Vegetable Frittata with Sweet Potato Crust for some inspiration.

Add more vegetables to your diet - Daisybeet

2. Spiralize vegetables into noodles

You can turn pretty much any vegetable into vegetable noodles (or zoodles) using a spiralizer. Next pasta night, try replacing half your spaghetti with zucchini noodles.

Add more vegetables to your diet - Daisybeet

3. Make a green smoothie

Add a few handfuls of spinach to your morning smoothie – I promise you won’t taste it! You can also add frozen cauliflower to smoothies without a noticeable taste change, because it has such a mild flavor. Check out this delicious green smoothie recipe from Pinch of Yum.

Add more vegetables to your diet - Daisybeet

4. Make stuffed bell peppers

Cooking stuffed bell peppers is an easy way to increase vegetable consumption. One bell pepper equals about one serving! To really maximize your intake, add more vegetables to the filling, such as spinach, onions, or mushrooms.

Add more vegetables to your diet - Daisybeet

5. Use riced cauliflower in your meals

Just like zucchini can transform into zoodles, cauliflower is a good substitute for grains when it is “riced”. Try replacing half your grains with riced cauliflower if you want an extra boost of veggies on your plate. This cauliflower fried rice recipe is one of my favorites!

Add more vegetables to your diet - Daisybeet

6. Top pizza with vegetables

Because what’s a life without pizza? Opt for veggie toppings next time you order pizza. Some of my favorites are spinach, broccoli, and onions. Or, try this amazing looking roasted mushroom and kale pizza from Half Baked Harvest!

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which help keep Daisybeet running. I truly love all the brands I link to, and use them frequently in my daily life!

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Weight Loss Nutrition Myths, Busted

In this edition of ‘Nutrition Myths Busted’, we are talking weight loss. From carbs to calories to skipping meals, get the most up to date research here!

weight loss nutrition myths

Since starting my nutrition private practice this year, almost every single one of my clients has wanted to lose weight. With that goal comes a flood of questions. Should they try Whole30? What about keto? How about meal replacement shakes?

After I say my part about weight loss, balanced meal planning, and macronutrient needs, my clients are sometimes a little underwhelmed. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix, magic pill, or specific diet that guarantees weight loss fast.

The good news is, weight loss is possible and attainable. Just like most changes in life, weight loss is built on the culmination of healthy habits. Make small, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle, and you will see results! It takes a little patience because healthy weight loss is slow and steady, but you absolutely can be successful at weight loss.

Today, I’m breaking down three weight loss nutrition myths I hear and read over and over. I’m covering carbohydrates, calories, and skipping meals and how they all relate to weight loss. Read on for the science-backed details!

Weight Loss Myth 1: Carbs make you fat.

Spring pasta dish - weight loss nutrition myths

Back in the 1990s, the low-fat craze took over in America. But now, things have shifted, and low-carb diets are all the rage. From paleo to keto, many of today’s hottest diets promote low carbohydrate intake.

For reference, the Dietary Guidelines recommend 45-65% of our diets come from carbohydrates, or about 225-325 grams of carbs per day. The ketogenic diet (which was developed for people with epilepsy) recommends just 50 grams per day.

The research shows that in the short term, low carb diets might be slightly more effective for weight loss than other diets (1). When I say slightly, I mean the difference of 2-3 pounds over 12 months. A difference this small is negligible for those with a significant amount of weight to lose. Furthermore, research shows that adherence to very low carb ketogenic diets is nearly nonexistent after 6 months.

What all this tell us is that low carb diets may jumpstart weight loss in the short term, but after a year of dieting, the difference is inconsequential. Also, low carb diets, especially the ketogenic diet, are not sustainable long term. When considering a diet, ask yourself if you think you’ll be eating this way when you’re 85. If the answer is no, it’s probably not a sustainable pattern of eating that will produce long term results.

Furthermore, when you eliminate carbs, you are eliminating super important vitamins, minerals, and fiber! A high fiber diet is actually extremely conducive to weight loss, because it fills you up on fewer calories. The takeaway here is to choose whole grain, complex, fiber-rich carbs to promote weight loss while still meeting your micronutrient needs. Check out this post for to learn more about fiber-rich foods!

Weight Loss Myth 2: I can eat whatever I want and lose weight, as long as I stay under my calorie goal.

Cookie dough fudge - weight loss nutrition myths

I think a lot of us have experience with counting calories. When we have a specific number in mind about how much we should eat every day, this can quickly become the most important driving factor of our food choices. We choose 100-calorie packs over satiating nuts for a snack because they are lower in calories. But, there is so much more to a calorie than the number, and the quality of your calories matters.

Not all calories are created equal

The calories in our food have different effects on metabolism when the food is actually digested and absorbed (2). For instance, an apple and a slice of white bread have roughly the same number of calories. But, the apple has 4 grams of fiber, whereas the white bread has none. The fiber in the apple will slow the digestive process, keeping us full for longer, and avoiding a quick spike in blood sugar. The white bread breaks down quickly, so the sugars rapidly absorb into our blood.

When we choose meals and snacks that have a balance fiber, lean protein, and healthy fats, our bodies digest them more slowly, we have a more stable blood sugar curve, and we feel fuller for longer. The benefits of fiber in particular are extra notable, because we don’t even digest it! It passes through our digestive tract, feeds the good bacteria in our guts, or gets exits our bodies. When we feel full, we eat less overall, which ultimately leads to weight loss.

Of course, consuming an excess of ANY macronutrient will be stored as fat. But, we can prevent eating in excess in the first place by choosing balanced meals, never restricting ourselves too much, and practicing mindfulness while eating.

The best foods for sustainable weight loss are not low calorie foods, but whole, unprocessed foods from all food groups because they metabolize more efficiently, keep us full, and help prevent overeating in the first place.

Weight Loss Myth 3: Skipping meals will help me lose weight.

Skipping meals may work for short term weight loss, but it is absolutely not sustainable or healthy for the long term. In fact, it might actually disrupt your metabolism. Metabolism is all the chemical processes that happen inside our bodies that keep us alive. It encompasses burning calories and fat for energy, and using energy to rebuild tissues.

One study found that there was no difference in body weight after 1 year between breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers (3). Also, the breakfast eaters had higher intakes of important nutrients, like thiamin, niacin, and folate.

Another study looked at breakfast skipping, dinner skipping, and eating a conventional 3 meals per day (4). After the breakfast skipping trial, post-meal insulin levels and fat oxidation increased. This may signify changes in metabolism that could lead to increases in inflammation and difficulty managing glucose levels in the long term. This increases risk of Type 2 Diabetes and weight gain.

Skipping meals and it’s effect on metabolism

We can rev up our metabolism to a degree every time we eat. Protein and fiber-rich foods have high thermic effects, because they take longer to digest and absorb than refined carbs and fat (5). This means it takes more calories to digest protein and fiber than other foods. Skipping meals has the opposite effect on metabolism. Our bodies are very smart, and will go into “starvation mode” when they are severely calorie restricted. We become accustomed to burning less calories to perform necessary functions and hold on tight the the calories we DO get (6).

While skipping meals may induce weight loss via a calorie deficit early on, it is not sustainable and may damage our metabolism, which makes it even harder to lose weight in the long term.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this weight loss nutrition myths post! To summarize, there is no quick fix for weight loss if you want it to last long term. Small changes that work within your lifestyle will lead to weight loss success, along with a well-balanced diet that includes fiber-rich carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fat. Check out my last ‘Nutrition Myths, Busted’ post here!

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