With Intermittent Fasting, we often emphasize that when you eat is more important than how much you eat when it comes to losing weight and maintaining good health. Of course, this is no excuse to overeat, but eating to satiety is fine within an alternate-day fasting regime. But is that enough for a healthy diet?
Of course not. What you eat is very important to your overall health, regardless of the schedule or quantity of food you consume. Eat nothing but junk food, and no amount of Fasting or calorie restriction will counteract the ill effects of unhealthy eating.
A Nutty Example
A recent study examined the effect of daily consumption of pistachios on gamma-tocopherol serum levels. Gamma-tocopherol is a form of vitamin E that has been shown to reduce the risk of lung and prostate cancers and perhaps other forms of cancer. Other studies have shown pistachios to benefit heart health by lowering LDL cholesterol.
In this study, half the participants added about two ounces of pistachios to their daily diet for four weeks, while the other half continued their normal diets. Cholesterol-adjusted serum gamma-tocopherol was significantly higher for those eating pistachios at the end of the period than their pre-diet baseline. At the same time, the control group showed no significant change.
That is just one of the hundreds of studies we see each year that show how good foods benefit our bodies. It’s not just pistachios — most nuts are healthy eating. Fresh vegetables are great for you too.
Meat has a bad reputation among many health-conscious folks today, but there is no other food with many beneficial nutrients. All meat has fat, and too much fat — especially the saturated fats common in meat — can cause problems. But those problems can be avoided.
If called upon to do so, your body will turn those fats into energy. The amount of meat in your diet should directly correlate with the vigorous exercise you get. A healthy diet for one person is only sometimes a healthy diet for someone with a different lifestyle.
Likewise, fruit can be packed with good minerals and vitamins, but overeating fruit will be unhealthy for someone with a sedentary lifestyle because most fruits also contain high sugar levels.
Intermittent Fasting can help you lose weight and produces beneficial health effects that promote longevity. But a healthy diet must be part of your lifestyle, or all those beneficial effects will be countered by more powerful ill effects.
You need a diet balanced with good, healthful fat, fiber, sugar/carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals in the right approximate proportions for your lifestyle. A ‘fat-free’ diet would kill you if you could achieve it. Each of these things is a necessary part of a healthy diet — the quantities and proportions vary depending on how much energy you expend daily.
Variety is not just the spice of life — it is the easiest path to a healthy diet.
Eat as many fresh and healthful foods as possible, with plenty of clean water. Your body will then be able to sort out what is best for you and dispose of the rest. You can usually trust your appetite to lead you to the foods your body needs most — being aware that sugar and fats tend to be craved far more than their actual merit.
Strike the right balance for you — you will know how it makes you feel when you do the right thing. There is no need for exact measurements of portions and strict rationing of certain foods. Reduce fat and sugars if you are sedentary, and eat various healthful foods. Drink plenty of clean water. Voila — you have a healthy diet.