Fasting has been around for hundreds of years. It is used to express social and political views throughout history. Whilst men and women of faith have followed fasting for centuries. Intermittent fasting involves alternating days of eating and fasting without focusing on the types of foods that can or cannot be eaten. It is more focused on the eating pattern than the type of food eaten. Intermittent fasting has a strong media presence with many celebrities talking about how this has helped them achieve weight loss.
Some examples of intermittent fasting diets are:
1: 5:2 diet: This is one of the most well-known intermittent fasting diets. This involves eating normally for 5 days and fasting on 2 days a week. During the fasting days, you are allowed about 500-600calories/day. Fasting days can either be consecutive or spread out through the week.
2: 16/8 Method: This method involves fasting for 16hours and restricting your meals between 8hours window.
3:Eat Stop Eat diet: This involves fasting for 24 hours about a couple of times a week.
What does the research suggest? Whilst some research has indicated that intermittent fasting can be effective for weight loss, it has not suggested it is any more effective than a healthy consistent calorie restriction approach. The current finding is not adequate and requires more research in humans. However, the key is that it does indicate that intermittent fasting can be an effective method to help promote weight loss in some individuals.
Some side effects that people may experience when on intermittent fasting:
- Irritability and low mood due to the impact on blood sugar levels due to reduced food intake
- Reduction in energy levels due to reduced energy intake
- Yes it is true that longterm fasting or restricting food can lead to overeating in some individuals
- Developing nutritional deficiencies if you are not meeting the daily nutritional requirements due to fasting
Summary: Fasting requires significant effort to ensure the nutritional need is adequately met.The best diet is that is sustainable . Intermittent fasting is not for pregnant women or individuals with certain health conditions. Sustained and healthy weight loss involves a balanced, varied and more enjoyable dietary approach. Intermittent fasting is not the only way to lose weight. If intermittent fasting is something you want to consider, see a trained dietitian who can assess if this is for you ,ensure you do it correctly and meet your nutritional needs whilst restricting your diet.