Intermittent fasting is an attractive way to lose weight for most people, and it's no wonder why. No counting calories, no measuring food, no reading ingredient lists—you can't get much easier than that. Your one job is to eat only during a specified "eating window" and avoid eating during the "fasting" period.
"The idea of following just one recommendation—to eat within a certain window of time—can be appealing and easier to be consistent with for some," explains New Jersey-based dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.
One of the most alluring parts of intermittent fasting is that you can eat what you want; just not when you want. The most common approach to intermittent fasting is a daily approach, where you choose an eating window that ranges from six to 12 hours and fast for the rest of the day and night. Other options could include a weekly schedule of eating "normally" for five days and restricting to 500-600 calories on the other two days of the week.
"Some research suggests that time-restricted eating, when the eating window occurs earlier in the day, may help to improve blood sugar levels as well as appetite regulation," explains Palinski-Wade. In addition to improved glucose regulation, intermittent fasting can also increase stress resistance and suppress inflammation, according to the National Institute on Aging.
While food variety isn't limited with intermittent fasting, one thing you'll want to avoid during your fasting window and limit during your eating window is sugar-sweetened drinks.
"Drinking coffee with added cream, sugar, sugar-filled flavorings, or other sugar-sweetened beverages should be limited with intermittent fasting and included only during the eating window," says Palinski-Wade.
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For improved overall health and weight loss benefits, following a general healthy eating pattern along with intermittent fasting may be helpful. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends limiting added sugars to less than 10% of your total calories daily.
Sugar-sweetened beverages have excess calories and added sugar but lack important nutrients like protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Making the most of what you're eating or drinking during your eating window can help you feel full and satisfied, even during your fasting period each day.