Intermittent Fasting and Dates


Diet Description

Intermittent fasting is a type of dietary pattern that focuses on the timing of meals. Rather than restricting certain foods or food groups, it restricts the timing you eat. It also does not rely on calorie counting. While there are many different types of intermittent fasting, the most common types are the 5:2 method and the 16:8 method.

The 5:2 method involves restricting calories two days a week to 500 calories. Meanwhile, you eat normally on the other 5 days. The 16:8 method involves restricting your eating during an 8 hour time period. For example, you may choose to eat between 10AM to 6PM daily and fast from 6PM to 10AM. This method is done on a daily basis.

Diet Purpose​

People may try intermittent fasting for a variety of reasons. The most common reason for trying intermittent fasting is weight loss. This topic is also the most researched. Studies have shown evidence that it can be a  helpful tool for promoting weight loss. Intermittent fasting can help reduce the amount of calories you eat in a day. It does this simply by shortening your eating time. Did you know that it can also affect your hormones? In turn, this can help increase your metabolic rate. This means that your body can burn calories faster. 

Some other reasons you may want to try out intermittent fasting are for helping control blood sugar levels, reducing inflammation, and potentially reducing your risk for certain cancer. For example, research shows that intermittent fasting can help reduce blood sugar levels and fasting insulin levels. This could ultimately help prevent type 2 diabetes.  The effects of intermittent fasting on cancer are still largely unknown. However, there have been primary studies of it on animals.

Dates in an Intermittent Fasting

Dates can be a great addition to an intermittent fasting diet. They can help provide antioxidants, carbohydrates, and energy to keep you going throughout the day. Dates are also low in GI (glycemic index). The main focus of intermittent fasting is on the spike in sugar and insulin levels in the body. Therefore, dates are highly recommended for this diet because its low GI does not spike your blood sugar levels. Its fiber also helps you feel satiated for longer. This will be especially helpful during your fasting periods!

What to Eat

Intermittent fasting restricts your meal timing rather than your meal composition. Therefore, technically any type of food can be eaten on this diet. While it depends on what type of intermittent fasting you choose to follow, this will involve fasting for some length of time while shortening your ‘eating window.’ Your eating window is the time you are able to eat any foods you like. Your fasting period can range from 14 hours to a full 24 hours. Generally, water, tea, and black coffee are allowed during fasting periods. However, it is still advised not to eat anything with calories during those times. 

If you are following the 5:2 method, as described above, you will want to limit calorie-heavy foods on the days you are restricting calories. This includes oils, nuts, full-fat dairy, high-fat meats, pastries, and desserts. Whether you follow any of the various methods for intermittent fasting, the diet strongly advises against overeating, especially unhealthy foods, during your eating window.

What to Avoid

No foods are restricted on an intermittent fasting diet. All foods that contain calories are restricted, though, during fasting periods. However, it is still strongly advised not to overeat in your eating windows. This is especially true for highly processed and unhealthy foods.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is a type of diet that has a big impact on your timetable and lifestyle. It involves limiting the amount of hours you eat during the day. The most common methods are the 5:2 and 16:8 diets. While fasting may not be for everyone, some people consider it a sustainable way to improve the way they eat. Intermittent fasting may be beneficial for weight loss. It may also help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, and potentially other risk factors.

Written by:

Leah Goebel, RDN

Registered Dietitian

Reviewed by:
Registered Dietitian
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PubMed Central

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