Intermittent Fasting: the Research is In

An Empty Plate

I blogged back in March and August of this year about the diet trend called
Intermittent Fasting. This is was touted as an effective way to lose weight; it involves eating only during certain hours of the day–usually for 8 out of the 24. Early research seemed promising and there was anecdotal evidence as well.

The latest research, though, tells another story. An article on discusses the lastest findings:

Dr. Ethan Weiss conducted a study of 116 overweight individuals beginning in 2018; some were put on an intermittent fasting regimen, the others on a “placebo” diet. The fact that human subjects were used was a big deal since previous studies had been conducted with mice. The study found no statistical difference between the two groups. In other words, intermittent fasting is no more effective than other kinds of dieting.

So does that mean you have nothing to lose by giving it a try to see if it works for you? Not so fast, says Dr. Weiss. First, it is not clear that intermittent fasting is good for older adults. Second, and most importantly, subjects in the intermittent fasting group experienced loss of muscle mass. This means that the weight lost may not have been fat, but muscle!

These findings are important, and I’m sure there will be more studies. In the meantime, it seems that intermittent fasting probably isn’t your best approach to weight loss. It also bears repeating, as the article points out, that weight is not the only indicator of good health and fitness. Consult a medical professional and/or fitness specialist to find out how to be the most fit and healthy you!

Interestingly, the article was published on Yom Kippur–the holiest day on the Jewish calendar marked by a 25-hour fast. Coincidence? I think not….

How is Quarantining Helping You Grow?

Weight Gurus black bathroom scale on wood floor

OK. So this was not really the kind of growth I was looking forward to. I will admit that I have learned a lot about myself and those around me during the current COVID-19 unpleasantness. It has come at some cost to my fitness for sure as my waistline is growing too.

A few posts back I mentioned that I was going to give Intermittent Fasting a shot…and I did. I tried it for one week, but found it untenable. Most folks doing this choose to eat only from 11 am – 7 pm, while the rest of the time they only drink liquids. I teach a daily workout online (search Facebook for Kosher-Fitness) at 10 am and I’ve got to fuel up before that. We also usually sit down to dinner between 6:30 and 7:00 pm which doesn’t fit the schedule either. The real proof was (you should pardon the expression) in the pudding; I was continuing to put on weight.

This is totally to be expected since most of us are way less active now than we usually are. Typically at work as a personal trainer I am doing a lot of walking around with clients, demonstrating exercises, and sometimes even doing certain things right along with the person. Ironically, the workouts that I teach online are more strenuous than my typical exercise regimen. Even so, I’m still at a deficit when it comes to burning calories.

I’ve decided to follow the advice I give to my own clients. I am counting calories now. It’s not as bad as it seems; I’m using the My Fitness Pal app–which I have used on and off over the last year. I find that it benefits me in two ways at least. First, it makes me aware of just how many calories I am consuming–which is usually more than my ballpark guesstimates. Second, I’m too lazy to keep going to the app, so I simply decide not to have that little snack so that I don’t have to go through the trouble. It’s like keeping kosher–observing the Jewish dietary laws; I make myself much more aware of what I am consuming.

I will keep you posted on my progress. How are you all doing? Are you finding that you are growing in unexpected ways too? No one knows how long this will go on, but if we put on a pound a week for a couple of months, it will be a challenge to get back to where we were.

Finally, remember that weight is only one aspect of health and fitness. Don’t forget about maintaining strength and cardio-vascular health. Remember to be kind to yourself and care for your emotional self too. Staying healthy is a multi-level endeavor; don’t ignore any of those parts and pieces.

An Intermittent Fasting Success Story


Here is a story from that talks about this nutrition trend. I like that it also focuses on their exercise journey.

I don’t know if I could be that strict–only eating between noon and 8 pm–but it seems to work for some people.

Fasting and Intermittent Fasting

empty plate

Today on the Jewish calendar is Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av; it is a 25-hour fast that commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Ancient Jerusalem. Aside from Yom Kippur, it is the only full fast (others just go from sunrise to sunset)…and I’ve got about 6 hours to go.

The goal of the fast (which is the case on Yom Kippur too) is not to lose weight or to suffer greatly, but rather to focus less on the physical and more on the metaphysical. Tisha B’Av causes those who observe it to reflect on the history of the Jewish people: the enemies who have arisen against us from the outside, as well as the enemies from within. Not having to think about eating (which isn’t easy), allows the day to be mostly spiritual, and also gives us a small taste of the suffering of our ancestors.

Interestingly, fasting has been a hot trend in the diet/fitness world the last several years. In particular, a lot of attention has been paid to Intermittent Fasting.

What is Intermittent Fasting? There are several versions. One way to do it is to restrict eating to only certain times of the day (generally an 8-hour period). Others fast one or two days out of the week. Others choose 1-3 days to eat a very restricted calorie count (say around 500 KCals) during the week, and eat normally the rest of the week. The science behind it is that during the fasting periods, the body is required to burn fat in order to maintain its regular functions; in particular, this kind of fasting seems to target belly fat. Other health benefits may include better control of insulin and cholesterol levels.

Why this is appealing to many is that you don’t have to think about calories or only eating certain kinds of food. The process is very simple: eat during certain times and not during others. This can also simplify the dieting process: no need for extensive reading of labels, less meals to plan , etc. Of course, one shouldn’t assume that during non-fasting times root beer floats, corned beef sandwiches and tubs of whipped topping should be the staples of the diet. As always, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish and less-processed foods are recommended.

I started doing Intermittent Fasting many years ago not really knowing that it was a “thing.” I noticed that I grazed a LOT after dinner, and it added up to hundreds of calories. I made a rule for myself that I still follow pretty closely: after dinner, no eating! I can drink calorie-free liquids, but that is it. (I do make exceptions for special occasions but don’t go crazy). I found that it helps me control my weight and that my cravings for after-dinner snacks quickly subsided.

There is admittedly a big difference between the kind of religious fasting to which many of us are accustomed (Ramadan, Yom Kippur, etc.), but there is a commonality as well. While one focuses on a physiological goal and the other on a more spiritual goal, both require self-control and self-sacrifice. Both also are means to an end: either greater physical health or greater spiritual awareness.

Readers, I would be interested to know how many of you have tried Intermittent Fasting, or if you currently practice it now. What are the challenges and what are the advantages? What are the results you have seen?

I am a believer–as long as it is done in moderation. Before jumping into Intermittent Fasting, though, do some research and talk to your physician. Be safe and be healthy.

There are many articles on the topic on-line, but a good introduction is: .

Wishing those observing Tisha B’Av a meaningful fast.

Intermittent Fasting

Today we will skip “Recipe Wednesday” because it is the Fast of Esther; this fast day runs from sunrise to sunset and commemorates the fast that Esther and the Jewish People undertook before her meeting with King Achashverosh.

There has been a lot written about fasting over the last few years, and much of it is promising. Research indicates that intermittent fasting (not a complete fast, but fasting for parts of the day or parts of a week) may not only help with weight loss, but lower insulin levels in diabetics and pre-diabetics. T

I have been following my own form of intermittent fasting for several years now. Once dinner is over–whenever that is–I stop eating. Before I put this “rule” in place, I used to graze all night long to the tune of hundreds of calories. My eating does not take place 24/7 but is now limited to certain times of the day. Note that others have their own systems. I know of some folks who eat from 7-9 am, 12-1 pm and then from 5-8 pm; there is no snacking between those periods.

The attached article from Harvard was published last year and gives a pretty clear summary of the latest findings, as well as what exactly intermittent fasting (IF) is. As I mentioned above, there is more than one model for IF. Do some research and see if this is something that you might want to try yourself.

In the meantime, wishing those of you who are fasting a Tzom Kal, an easy fast…and a Happy Purim!