If your jeans are feeling a little tighter today after a weekend of Easter indulgence, you might be looking for a way to drop those few extra hot cross buns around your middle. Intermittent fasting has quickly gathered momentum over the past few years, with many promoting it as a fast track to weight loss. But is it really everything it’s cracked up to be – with lasting results?
What is intermittent fasting?
Put simply, intermittent fasting is cycling between periods of eating and fasting. The reality is, humans have been performing intermittent fasting for thousands of years. Think about your first meal of the day – breakfast. The word literally says ‘break’ ‘fast’ – the fast being the period in which you’re not eating (because you’re sleeping).
There are a multitude of different schools of thought when it comes to intermittent fasting. Some of these include:
- The 16:8 method: which involves restricting your eating to within an eight hour window daily, with 16 hours fasting.
- The 5:2 diet: popularised by Dr Michael Mosley, this diet involves eating normally for five days of the week and dramatically restricting calorie intake for the other two days of the week.
- Alternate day fasting: in which will fast (or consume reduced calories) for one day, then eat normally the next).
Does it promote weight loss?
Beating the dreaded kilo creep is a definite driver for many people who incorporate intermittent fasting into their life. At it’s most basic level, it can help you lose weight – simply by reducing the amount of meals (and therefore calories) you consume. The less calories you consume, the more your body has to utilise stored fats and sugars as an energy source, resulting in weight loss.
However, it is thought that intermittent fasting can also facilitate changes in the body’s hormone levels which can also support weight loss. Specifically, it can lead to lower the body’s insulin levels and can also lead to an increase in the hormone noradrenaline (commonly recognised as a fat-burning hormone).
Are there any other benefits to intermittent fasting?
There has been anecdotal evidence that undertaking intermittent fasting can lead to a reduction of inflammation in the body, which therefore may lead to a decreased likelihood of developing a wide range of chronic diseases.
The practise may also help reduce ‘LDL’ or ‘bad’ cholesterol and insulin levels in the blood stream, potentially leading to a reduced incidence of heart disease.
There are a multitude of other health benefits that are reported in relation to intermittent fasting – however, all health concerns should be discussed with your doctor – always.
Is it for me?
The truth is – only you know if intermittent fasting is an appropriate solution for you. Yes, there are positive findings that it may support weight loss – but this can be said for a multitude of different diets, programs and eating plans.
A diverse, balanced diet, coupled with adequate exercise and rest is always the best long-term approach to maintaining your overall health.
Intended as general advice only. Please consult your Health Care Provider to discuss any specific concerns.