Aug 20, 2016

Intermittent fasting is sustainable and compatible with a well-balanced diet. Bon appétit!

The Bon Appétit blog recently posted on intermittent fasting under the title “Wellness Tips from Bon Appétit: Intermittent Fasting – Not So Fast.” I appreciate their attention to intermittent fasting, and I agree that caution is always appropriate when considering a new diet. However, they overstate the problems, and conclude that intermittent fasting “is unlikely to be a sustainable way of eating and living.” As someone who has been fasting three days each week for 12 years, I feel confident disagreeing with that. Furthermore, the fact that it is so sustainable is a big advantage relative to most other diets.

They add that “It isn’t as trendy, but eating a well-balanced diet full of plant foods, exercising regularly, managing stress, and sleeping well is your best bet for long-term weight management and overall health.” But I do all of those things while fasting, and I don’t see how intermittent fasting makes them any harder.

They also express concern about the interference of fasting with one’s social life. "if you can’t eat after 5:30 pm, how will you enjoy a dinner out with friends or family?" However, what I do (three fasts of about 24 hours each week) is quite flexible, and I almost never have to decline a social occasion involving food. If my fast is 22 hours instead of 24 one day, it’s no big deal. If I can't fast on Saturday, when I normally would, I fast on Sunday. If I fast only two days instead of three one week, that’s also fine. Freedom from interference with the rest of my life is indeed important to me, and the flexibility of my style of fasting gives me that.

Finally, they are concerned about the effect of fasting on mood. "Mood swings, a.k.a. becoming 'hangry,' along with lack of concentration are side effects of long periods between meals and very low calorie diets." In fact, regular fasting leads to some sort of adaptation (in most people, including me, but perhaps not everyone) so that these side effects never occur. Contrary to what they say, freedom from "hanger" a big benefit of fasting. I never have to worry that I will become irritable if dinner is delayed.

I agree that people should think about how fasting will affect their quality of life. I find that fasting improves mine.