Intermittent fasting: if you're on social media, chances are you've seen or at least heard about it.
What started as a religious observance, turned medical approach, turned weight-loss system is flooding our feeds with #IF.
"I think it is a wonderful craze because it is promoting health and eventually losing weight of a lot of patients, and we have this great obesity epidemic that's going on right now,” said Lindsey Gillum, a nurse practitioner at HouseCall.
She has helped guide patients into an IF lifestyle.
So what is IF?
It is simply this: you only eat during a short, scheduled window and fast the rest of the time. Most IFers encourage you to eat what you want, but only for a few hours a day. We asked Gillum why she thinks IF is taking hold.
"It's very simple. I think when we are looking at rules to follow on how to eat, when we go for a simple rule, such as only eating from this time to this time, that's a lot easier to follow than caloric restrictions,” she said.
April Tindall began intermittent fasting four years ago as a cure for migraines after nothing seemed to work.
"I just went out on the internet and started searching. There are a lot of crazy things out there. But this one thing that kept popping up was intermittent fasting, intermittent fasting, you've got to do it. It's great.”
For Todd Upton, he began IF a couple of months ago after being diagnosed with diabetes.
"My sugar was 180/200. My high was 261. I would have these spells all the time where there's no mental focus, no clarity, no physical energy, just feeling like I'm going to fall out on the floor, blurred vision, tingling in my toes. And I thought 'hold on a minute, we've got to change something here.'"
Lily Miller, Todd's girlfriend, got on board strictly to lose weight.
"I used to be very tired during the day. I'd sit down on the sofa and my eyes would close."
The results are what's catching everyone's attention.
"I would say within six months all the 60 pounds were gone."
And the migraines? April said those were gone too.
"High blood sugar went to normal. Blood pressure went to normal. My doctors every single year look at those numbers and say 'how are they getting better? You're getting older. You're over 40. They shouldn't be getting better.'"
"I'm down 32 pounds in three months. Really, I've been doing intermittent fasting about two months. I've gone from a 42 in my pants down to a 36,” Todd said.
And those health concerns? They've virtually disappeared.
"I take my fasting blood sugar just about every morning and it's 97, 98, 100. I haven't had any of the spells."
"I have lost about 21 pounds now. Definitely my clothes fit better. I feel absolutely amazing,” Lily said.
Where to start
When they begin intermittent fasting, most people start with a 16:8 system. That means 16 hours of fasting and eight hours of feasting. intermittent fasting experts, whether they be bloggers, YouTubers, or doctors say it is important to figure out what works for you.
"Your body will tell you what it needs,” Lily said.
She and Todd are doing the 16:8 and also incorporating a keto (ketogenic) diet, which is a low-carb, high-fat approach.
"Cutting out the carbohydrates is something you actually really need for the body,” said Pete Nguyen, Owner of Healthy Chew, a meal-prep subscription service in Little Rock.
Right now 20% of his clients are doing intermittent fasting. When they plateau, Nguyen said many of his clients go Keto.
"That is something I do not suggest. One of the keto plans, you're taking away your nutrients and your carbs. And carbs are something essential. Something that every human needs."
For others, the feast is just that, a feast, meaning no restrictions.
"I make a point of fasting, for me, never being about restrictions, and never being about what don't I have, what do I have, what can't I eat. In fact, I try really hard not to use the term 'I can't eat that.' I start my day with what I want to eat, and I end my day with what I want to eat. Somewhere in the middle I feel good,” said April, who has incorporated Keto at certain times during her journey.
The IFers I spoke with say, they could never go back.
"I don't want to be successful for six months. I don't want to be successful for that three months I decide to 'diet.' I want this to be a permanent thing, because I want to feel like this in the long run,” April said.
"I just feel better. Aside from fat loss, even if I get down to 18 and have a six pack, I will still intermittent fast because of the way it makes me feel,” Todd said.
Of course, every diet is not for everybody.
If you're considering intermittent fasting, Gillum said, consult your doctor and check for any underlying conditions that could change how you fast.