What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a form of diet where long periods are passed without eating (or fasting). One major difference between intermittent fasting and traditional fasting diets is that fasting diets focus on when to eat rather than what to eat.
Intermittent fasting has gained widespread interest due to claims by scientists that our bodies were designed for long-term fasting during hunting-gatherer times. Fasting also contributes to weight loss, metabolic health benefits, and decreased insulin resistance; insulin is responsible for fat storage when stimulated by food but when released continuously for too long periods it causes insulin resistance, prompting our bodies to produce even more. Fasting allows levels of insulin production to reduce as a result.
Does intermittent fasting work for weight loss?
Research demonstrates that intermittent fasting can help individuals lose weight, while research indicates no significant distinction between fasting groups and continuous calorie restriction groups – the latter provides a solution for cutting calories by an effective but sustainable amount without leading to malnutrition.
The different types of intermittent fasting
Maintaining proper hydration during fasting is crucial, with regular intake of water being advised as the optimal source. You may want to add citrus juice for flavoring if desired, while coffee or tea consumption should take place without adding sugar or milk for sweetness.
Before embarking on any fasting program or experiencing illness or have special dietary restrictions, always consult with your GP first.
There are two main intermittent fasting schedules:
16:8 fasting schedule
In this form of fasting, people typically fast for 16 hours each day before eating within their recommended calorie limits for 8 hours of the day. An alternative variation to this fasting plan is 14/10 which extends this eating window by two hours.
5:2 fasting schedule
To utilize this fast, individuals should restrict caloric intake to 500-600 per day on two of seven days during the week and stick with healthy meals and snacks on all other five.
Several benefits have been reported, including:
People with sharper minds might notice improved memory.
Weight Loss – After conducting a comprehensive review of 40 studies on intermittent fasting for weight loss, researchers concluded that it could effectively help achieve 7-11 lb weight loss over 10 weeks’.
Protection against certain chronic diseases such as type 2 heart disease, diabetes and some cancers; IBS; as well as some cancers;
Can you eat anything whilst intermittent fasting?
Technically speaking, intermittent fasting focuses more on sticking to certain eating times rather than providing a list of specific food to consume.
However, to fully maximize the advantages of intermittent fasting during times of eating we suggest you follow an appropriate and varied diet. This involves including foods from all food groups into your meal plan; specifically ensuring it includes protein rich food such as veggies and fruit in wholegrain form while limiting processed items.
How long should a fasting plan last?
Intermittent fasting may not provide an instantaneous solution to weight loss; as reported in more than 40 research studies, participants lost weight slowly over ten weeks period; with an average loss of 7-11 pounds reported among subjects.
Who shouldn’t fast?
Reduced caloric intake and skipping meals could be risky for some individuals, including those living with:
- Digestion issues, for example, stomach ulcers
- Weakened immune system
- Eating disorders
- Some other chronic conditions.
Tips for success with intermittent fasting:
Start slowly (don’t dive right in with an immediate 16-hour fast. Start with 10-12 hour speeds and gradually increase to 16:8)
- Keep hydrated
- Plan meals ahead (planning nutritious, healthy and balanced meals).
- Avoid participating in intensive workouts during fasting periods or days when you don’t eat food.
- Be sure to get enough rest (sleep), and take time for relaxation.
- Consume meals during your eating window that provide all-around nutrition from all food groups. When dining late at night, be wary.