Tag Archives: weight loss diets

intermittent fasting

Does Intermittent Fasting Really Work for Weight Loss?

Intermittent fasting has helped many lose weight, but is it really any better than other diet options out there?

Of all the health and diet trends out there, intermittent fasting has become one of the most popular.

Intermittent fasting (IF) is when you cycle through periods of eating normally and fasting–or not eating at all.

Why are so many people interested in a diet that involves large chunks of time without eating?

As it turns out, a range of studies has shown that monitoring when you eat in addition to what you eat can have powerful benefits for your weight and overall health. Plus, there are stories of individuals who tried it and transformed how they feel every day.

Types of intermittent fasting

There are quite a few ways you can do intermittent fasting. No matter how you do it, the goal is to go for extended periods of time without eating anything. 

The reason intermittent fasting doesn’t look the same for everyone is that everyone will have different goals and health concerns. Below are some of the most common ways to do intermittent fasting 

  • The 16/8 method: This method involves breaking up each day into two different time periods. For 8 hours of every day, you can eat and fit in all of your regular meals. The other 16 hours of the day, you fast.
  • The 5/2 diet: You eat normally for 5 days a week and on 2 days you limit your calories to 500-600 calories on two days of the week. The fasting days are not normally back to back, but instead would be spread out by a couple of days. For example, having your fasting days on Monday and Thursday.
  • The Warrior Diet: On the Warrior Diet you eat foods that are similar to those on the paleo diet. But in addition, you also fast all day and eat a large meal within a 4-hour time frame at night. During the day you can eat raw fruits and vegetables, but no other carbs, meats, or fats until your evening meal.

You can also keep things more flexible and do spontaneous meal skipping. This method helps you tune in to your hunger cues. If you don’t feel hungry one morning, or have a low appetite all day, skip those meals. Then eat a balanced, whole foods meal when you feel hungry again.

Will intermittent fasting help you lose weight?

Intermittent fasting has been shown to help people lose weight.

The diet helps you achieve something that’s challenging for anyone to do—get into a calorie deficit.

Much of weight gain occurs because of an energy imbalance. In other words, taking in more energy than you burn each day. When you’re in a calorie deficit, you take in fewer calories than you burn. That’s how weight loss happens. 

When you do intermittent fasting, this naturally cuts out large chunks of time that would normally be filled with large meals and snacks. Or it provides days where you only eat around 500 calories which is significantly less than the standard daily intake for any adult. These instances of reduced calorie intake help rebalance the energy you take in versus the energy you spend.

But is it all about calorie deficit?

It turns out, it’s not as simple as that. Our ability to thrive while fasting is in our DNA. 

We’re evolutionarily prepared to have periods of fasting, and even benefit from those fasting windows of time.

A range of studies has shown that intermittent fasting helps improve your metabolism, lower blood sugar, and reduce inflammation. All of which contribute not only to weight loss but also to fewer instances of chronic and life-altering diseases. It can enhance brain function and reduce symptoms of arthritis and asthma.

Other studies have shown that those who only eat their meals within an 8-hour time frame every day have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off. 

So while being in a calorie deficit helps, there are other factors at play that make intermittent fasting beneficial for many people who have difficulty maintaining their weight or other health concerns.

Other health benefits of intermittent fasting

The benefits of intermittent fasting go beyond weight control. In addition to the health benefits listed above like improved metabolism, reduced inflammation, and lower blood sugar, there are other ways that intermittent fasting contributes to positive health outcomes.

There are studies that show intermittent fasting can slow the aging process. One showed that rats who were made to fast on a consistent basis lived anywhere from 36%-83% longer.

And others show the benefits of intermittent fasting for heart health. Fasting can help lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” that contributes to heart disease in high levels.

Get support 

Intermittent fasting can be a helpful method to lose weight and address other health concerns. It has more evidence in its favor than other diets out there. Plus it can be especially helpful when combined with other proven healthful diets like the Mediterranean diet.

But to see health benefits, it is important to do intermittent fasting safely. Depending on your health history, you may need extra support and monitoring to ensure you don’t endanger your health by cutting your calories on certain days of the week.

To get support and even try a diet designed for fasting, we’re here to help you achieve your weight loss goals in a sustainable and healthy way. Reach out to your closest Valley Weight Loss Center to start your weight loss journey.

DASH diet

Why the DASH Diet Is One of the Best Diets

The DASH diet is considered one of the healthiest and most sustainable diet options out there. While it was designed for individuals dealing with hypertension, it can help anyone improve their health and lose weight.

The DASH diet has once again been ranked, along with the Mediterranean diet, as one of the best diets for overall health. And it’s consistently ranked #1 for heart-healthy diets.

DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

Around 108 million Americans live with hypertension, with only 24% of them having their condition under control. Many Americans have hypertension without knowing it, or they know it but find it too challenging to manage. 

While a common way of treating hypertension is through medication, many people are wary of using medication that can lead to unwanted side effects. The DASH diet came about as doctors and nutritionists looked for a way to treat or prevent hypertension through diet instead of medication. 

The DASH diet is all about eating the heart-healthy foods you’ll find in many other diets

Real-life benefits of the DASH diet

The diet is known for reducing the risk of developing hypertension, also called high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is how much force your circulating blood exerts on your arteries. 

It’s broken up into two measurements–systolic and diastolic. The systolic measurement is how much pressure is behind your blood when your heart contracts. The diastolic measurement is how much pressure exists when your heart relaxes (or in between heartbeats).  

A healthy range is considered at or below 120/80 mm Hg. The top number is the systolic pressure and the bottom number is diastolic.

When blood pressure gets too high, it can cause heart attacks, stroke, and kidney disease.

The causes of high blood pressure are varied. For some, the causes are largely due to lifestyle factors like lack of exercise, high-sodium diet, smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, stress, or being overweight.

And for others, the causes can be due to conditions like adrenal or thyroid disorders, chronic kidney disease, and other genetic factors. 

In a series of studies, the DASH diet proved to be one of the best solutions for overcoming high blood pressure without using medication, even for those who already have high blood pressure.

Researchers have also discovered benefits that go beyond lowering blood pressure. The DASH diet also:

So the DASH diet isn’t only for those at risk of developing high blood pressure or trying to lower it. 

This is a diet that anyone who wants to maintain a sustainable healthful diet can benefit from. And even anyone who wants to lose weight can benefit from this diet.

What to eat on the DASH diet

One of the benefits of the DASH diet is that it’s not an extremely restrictive diet. As far as diets go, it’s flexible and considered sustainable for the long term. 

The overall goal of the DASH diet is to focus on eating whole and natural foods. Like most diets, the DASH diet requires avoiding most highly-processed foods, especially those that are high in extra salt. High sodium diets contribute to high blood pressure and by avoiding extra salt, those with hypertension can make measurable improvements in short periods of time.

Foods to Eat:

  • 6-8 Servings of Whole Grains
  • 4-5 Servings of Fruits
  • 4-5 Servings of Vegetables
  • 2-3 Servings of Dairy
  • Fewer than 6 servings of eggs, fish, or lean chicken per day

Foods to Avoid:

  • Red meat—it’s not something you can never eat on the diet. But once or twice a week maximum
  • Processed meats like pepperoni or salami
  • High-fat meats
  • Chips, cookies, ice cream, and other snacks that have a lot of added sugar or salt. Just like with red meat, you can have these in moderation–meaning 3-5 servings of a sugary or savory snack per week.

What about alcohol?

As for alcohol consumption, it’s not recommended on the diet. While the Mediterranean diet works some red wine in moderation into the week, the DASH diet does not.

And it comes down to the fact that for many people, the health costs outweigh the small potential gains.

Consuming too much alcohol is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. So when patients start the DASH diet with their doctor, they’re generally advised not to continue drinking.

Wondering if the DASH diet is right for you?

Whether or not you’d benefit from the DASH diet depends on a few factors.

Limiting salt to such a degree isn’t necessary for everyone. Some studies found that limiting salt intake for those with normal blood pressure and salt levels doesn’t have much of an impact. And there seem to be some people who are more sensitive to salt. So even slight increases can lead to increased blood pressure.

These are all reasons it’s beneficial to talk to a doctor before choosing to start a new diet for your health or weight loss goals. They can look at your health history and current health indicators to determine if cutting out certain types of foods

While cutting out saturated fats and processed sugars is considered healthful for everyone, how much you should cut out and stay healthy will depend on your particular situation and needs.

That’s why all of our doctors at Valley Medical Weight Loss go over your health history and your goals to decide on the right path forward for you. When you want to lose weight, there isn’t just a cookie-cutter method. And you deserve the option that will be right for you.

Visit us at one of our locations to start your personalized weight loss journey.

benefits of the Paleo diet

Benefits of the Paleo Diet: Does It Work For Weight Loss?

If you’ve been wondering if the Paleo diet is worth a try, here are some of the benefits of the Pale diet—and whether or not it actually works for weight loss.

The Paleo diet—sometimes called the Caveman Diet—is all about eating in the way our ancestors did.

The diet has been around since the 1970s. But it didn’t become mainstream popular until the early 2000s when Loren Cordain published The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. 

The whole purpose of the diet is to eat what our early hunter-gatherer ancestors presumably ate. “Presumably” because we can never know with 100% certainty what they ate most of across the board, how much of their diet was intentional, and how much was due to environmental circumstances and location.

But the diet has maintained its popularity for decades now. So you may be wondering…how healthy is the diet and can it help you lose weight?

Let’s break down what the research says about the Paleo diet so you can decide if this could be the right diet for you.

What can you eat on the paleo diet?

So what do advocates of the Paleo diet say our prehistoric ancestors ate?

If you want to follow the Paleo diet, then you can count out any processed food to start. That means no potatoes, grains, dairy, and most other desserts.

On the paleo diet, you eat primarily unprocessed meats, fish, eggs, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

Benefits of the Paleo diet

A systemic review from 2019 found that there is a clear connection between the Paleo diet and weight loss.

One reason it helps with weight loss is that the diet is made up only of filling unprocessed foods. It’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and protein is more filling than carbs. 

When the foods you eat are more nutrient-dense and filling, this can help curb cravings for other foods later in the day.

This ultimately makes it easier for you to eat fewer calories every day.

Especially when most people’s extra calories come from the snacks and extras we eat. Like when we have a sweet tooth craving. Or the desire to eat half a “family-sized” bag of chips in one sitting (we’ve all been there!).

But the benefits can go beyond weight loss when the diet is done correctly and all nutritional needs are still being met.

Here are three other benefits of the Paleo diet that have been reported in studies:

Improved Glucose Tolerance

One study tracked the differences in weight loss between those on a Paleo diet and the Mediterranean diet.

While participants following both diets had significant and similar weight loss results, there was a difference in their glucose tolerance.

A glucose tolerance test measures how effectively your body clears glucose from your blood. If it doesn’t happen efficiently, then it can be a sign of diabetes and insulin resistance.

By the end of the study, researchers discovered that only the participants on the Paleo diet experienced a notable improvement in glucose tolerance. They even found that at the end of the 12-week study, everyone from the Paleo group had normal blood sugar levels, but only around half from the Mediterranean diet did by the end.

Improvements in cardiovascular risk factors and other metabolic factors

In another comparative study, the Paleo diet was compared to a standard diabetes diet. 

A diabetes diet is typically one developed with your doctor or dietician that involves eating whole foods at specific times during the day. The timing is to help moderate the production and usage of insulin.

The results showed greater weight loss and an improvement in other factors by the end of the study for those on the Paleo diet instead of the diabetes diet.

After three months on the diet, those on the Paleo diet lost more weight and saw their triglycerides drop more significantly. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood that your body uses for energy. 

Paleo participants also had an increase in HDL cholesterol. HDL is the good cholesterol (LDL is the type you want to avoid).

Another study noted similar results when one group followed the Paleo diet for just ten days. Those participants experienced a decrease in their LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.

Possible concerns with the Paleo diet

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the primary concerns with the Paleo diet is the absence of certain food groups.

While cutting out highly processed fats and sugars does have health benefits, the diet leaves out whole grains and legumes. Both types of foods are high in fiber, vitamins, and other micronutrients that make positive contributions to your overall health.

There are also some concerns about the claim that our ancestors didn’t eat grains. Some archaeologists have found evidence that humans ate grains as far back as 30,000 years ago. 

And there’s some genetic evidence that our biology changed to easily digest grains and other foods the Paleo diet cuts out. Meaning it’s a nonissue for your digestive health unless there is another underlying condition at play (which is certainly possible if you have a difficult time with gluten).

There’s also no way to prove that our ancestors’ diet was healthier than the standard whole-foods-based nutritious diet. It’s difficult to know and prove what diseases or health complications early humans had or didn’t have as a result of their diet.

And finally, the Paleo diet is also more restrictive than other diets. Restrictive diets can be harder to follow in the long run unless you find the diet enjoyable and easy to stick to.

Is Paleo right for you?

Whether Paleo is right for you will depend on many factors—your health concerns, your preferred mode of dieting, and your lifestyle.

The diet has proven beneficial for some who want to lose weight and improve their cardiovascular risk factors. 

Fortunately, deciding whether or not the Paleo diet is right for you isn’t something you have to guess at or figure out alone.

At Valley Medical Weight Loss, we work with each of our weight loss patients to figure out what the right weight loss plan is for you. We factor in everything about your health, your individual needs, and your long-term goals. 

There are so many ways to tackle your weight loss journey, and we’re here to help you get through the overwhelm of figuring it out alone.

When you’re ready for support and a real plan that’ll get results, reach out to your closest Valley Medical Weight Loss location

Our experts are ready to help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Sources

  1. Challa, Hima J. “Paleolithic Diet.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 10 July 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482457/#:~:text=The%20concept%20of%20the%20Paleolithic,by%20Loren%20Cordain%20in%202002.
  2. de Menezes, Ehrika Vanessa Almeida, et al. “Influence of Paleolithic Diet on Anthropometric Markers in Chronic Diseases: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Nutrition Journal, BioMed Central, 23 July 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6647066/.
  3. C. Nielson, T. Lange, et al. “A Palaeolithic Diet Improves Glucose Tolerance More than a Mediterranean-like Diet in Individuals with Ischaemic Heart Disease.” Diabetologia, Springer-Verlag, 1 Jan. 1970, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-007-0716-y.
  4. Jönsson, Tommy, et al. “Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes: a Randomized Cross-over Pilot Study.” Cardiovascular Diabetology, BioMed Central, 16 July 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2724493/.
  5. Frassetto, L A, et al. “Metabolic and Physiologic Improvements from Consuming a Paleolithic, Hunter-Gatherer Type Diet.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 11 Feb. 2009, www.nature.com/articles/ejcn20094.
  6. “Paleo Diet: Eat like a Cave Man and Lose Weight?” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Aug. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/paleo-diet/art-20111182