Intermittent Fasting

        A type of intermittent fasting is currently very trendy. This diet has people eating freely for 8 hours and then fasting for the remaining 16 hours of the day. While this can be done the TQI way, most implement it in a way that is not healthy.

        The problem is that most skip breakfast and morning meals and instead begin their food day between 11 AM and noon. They then eat freely until 7 or 8 PM. What they choose to eat in that time frame is not prescribed or limited. The ability to eat socially at dinner time while not restricting the intake of inflammatory foods typical in the Western diet makes this form intermittent fasting very popular – but ultimately unhealthy.

        A recent well-designed study compared this type of intermittent fasting with eating three fixed meals a day. It found that the intermittent fasters lost little weight and the weight they lost was muscle not fat. Not a good outcome at all.

        An intermittent fast done the TQI way would instead begin with a breakfast composed of good quality protein and antioxidant-rich fruits and/or vegetables soon after rising. Someone getting up around 7 AM would have breakfast within a half hour of rising and would eat the remaining two meals and two snacks by around 3:30 PM. The grazing created by eating meals at most 2 hours apart would be counterbalanced by a 16 hour fast. All meals and snacks would be proportionate, meaning a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables would be eaten. And the TQI rules would eliminate all inflammatory foods from the diet.

        Unfortunately, what makes intermittent fasting popular is the freedom to indulge in inflammatory foods based on the assumption that the physiologic changes that take place during fasting will fully compensate, quieting that inflammatory effect. However, the recent study indicates strongly that this does not occur. The study also looked at a wide variety of measurements in a subgroup doing intermittent fasting and found no improvement in blood fats, blood sugar levels, or other laboratory indications of health. AND those fasting lost muscle.

        A TQI intermittent fast may well jump start a healthy weight loss. As well, definite benefits accrue when we eat our “big” meals earlier in the day, with less evening-nighttime eating and snacking. However, for many, trying to fast at a time when friends and family do most of their eating (in the evening) will prove quite difficult. Others with poor blood sugar control will often find the fast challenging and will experience headaches, cravings, poor sleep, etc.

        Ultimately, eating most of our food earlier in the day is a healthy way to eat. Thus, a TQI intermittent fast can be a healthy choice. However, intermittent fasting as most implement it (eating later in the day and freely indulging in less than healthy food choices) likely will not lead to much weight loss and, according to the study, most weight loss achieved will come from muscle. In other words, most forms of intermittent fasting are not healthy and are not recommended.


The study: Lowe DA, Wu N, Rohdin-Bibby L. Effects of time-restricted eating on weight loss and other metabolic parameters in women and men with overweight and obesity. The TREAT randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Sep 28. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.4153. Online ahead of print

Picture CC by Zeyus Media on Flickr

P.S. Interested in trying a science-based yet traditional approach to eating? We have TQIDiet classes starting soon, and our schedule, a syllabus, and testimonials are posted here.

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