Intermittent fasting (IF) has gained great popularity the last couple of years. It remains crucial to understand an eating style before pursuing it. Nutrition is an evolving science and just a friendly reminder to always consult a professional in the field and discuss nutrition topics with a Dietitian. This blog post is in fact dedicated to a friend who requested and shown interest in this topic.
IF is a type of eating pattern that requires you to skip one or more meals for a particular amount of time. Skipping meals allows you to automatically “reduce calories”, giving you a calorie deficit. The main reason many people follow this is for weight loss benefits.
IF is no different from other diets as it works by reducing your total calorie intake. So, you burn more than you consume, and ultimately will cause weight loss.
When you skip meals, you quickly reduce your daily calorie intake. Skipping breakfast can save 300-500 calories give or take, leaving you with more calories to consume in the meals you do eat while still staying on track with your weight loss goals.
In typical calorie-restricted diets, researchers found that 25% of what weight you lose tends to be muscle mass. However, only 10% of muscle mass was lost using IF. This does depend on how much protein you consume on your non-fasting days. You require to eat at least 1.2g protein/kg of body weight on non-fasting days to preserve fat-free muscle mass.
Another reason why IF may be seen as beneficial to regular calorie-restricted diets or other weight loss methods is that it does not send your hunger hormones out of whack.
When you fast in intervals that are shorter than 24 hours, you’re less likely to end up yo-yo dieting and sabotaging yourself by overeating at your next meal. Ultimately leading to better chances of you sticking to your lower-calorie diet without feeling starving.
Reducing your risk of Chronic Disease and lifestyle related disease:
Inflammation is a risk factor for most chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Fasting increases your levels of human growth hormone and reduces inflammatory markers, helping to initiate the processes that allow your body’s cells to repair.
IF may also support a healthy heart by positively influencing your cholesterol levels and
Plus, according to one study, fasting may decrease blood sugar by up to 12% and lower insulin levels by around 53% when you fast for around 16 hours daily.
Intermittent Fasting Options and Types:
These are some of the types of intermittent fasting that you can follow: ● The 5:2 Diet: Eat normally for 5 days of the week, but only eat up to 600 calories on the other two days. ● Spontaneous Fasting: Fast for a 12- or 24-hour period multiple times per week. There is no real schedule for this one. ● Alternate Day Fasting: Fast for one day you fast and eat normal the next day. Continue to alternate days of fasting and normal eating. ● The 16/8 or Leangains Method: Fast for 16 hours per day and eat in the remaining 8-hour window. Most people will skip breakfast and eat from 1pm to 9pm for example. ● Spontaneous Meal Skipping: Skip meals when convenient. Simply skip 1 or 2 meals when you don’t feel hungry or don’t have time to eat.
Fasting may not be right for you if you have one or more of the following:
● Low blood sugar levels ● History of eating disorders ● Women with long-term hormonal issues or amenorrhea ● Gallstones ● Thyroid issues
Pregnant women and those who are sick or ill should also avoid IF and focus on eating regular healthy meals to nourish the body.
IF has its place and like most eating patterns, styles, and behaviours it is so important that it suits your lifestyle and that it remains a sustainable approach. I always try to advocate for sustainability instead of just focusing on short term goals.