Right now, intermittent fasting for weight loss has become one of the latest diet trends, yet despite its current popularity, the concept of fasting has been used for thousands of years for various purposes.
So, what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Well simply put, intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of fasting and eating.
It does not specify WHAT we should eat, but rather WHEN we should eat.
There are several ways of practicing intermittent fasting; some people split the day while others split the week into eating and fasting periods.
One of the most commons methods is the 16:8, whereby you are fasting for 16 hours, then eating within a window of 8 hours.
During the fast, water, tea, coffee, tea and other non-caloric beverages are allowed, without any added sugar, milk or cream.
Is it safe?
Here’s our take on the benefits and risks of intermittent fasting
When done correctly, intermittent fasting has been proven to show some positive effects; below are a few benefits:
- It may help slow down the process of aging
- It may play a role in controlling one’s blood pressure and improving lipid profile
- It may help slow down the progression of cancer
- It can kick start your metabolism if your weight has been at a plateau; during your weight loss journey
- It has been shown to have a positive effect on ghrelin, the hunger hormone
- It is known to improve cognitive function and memory
- It has been shown to decrease insulin resistance and lower risk of developing diabetes
Every ‘diet’ trend has its disadvantages…some of its cons include:
- For those with an eating disorder or a history of eating disorders, should not try intermittent fasting; however if you are an overall healthy individual, there is no risk in trying intermittent fasting
- On days of fasting, it is not safe to exercise strenuously
- People with type 1 diabetes, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those taking prescription medication or have any medical condition are also not advised to try intermittent fasting. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new diet regime
- Any type of restriction may lead to excessive hunger and binging, which could also impact the food choices we make; thus having a counter-effect on what we’ve done during our fasting period
- We live in a culture where food and eating is very much a social activity; and with intermittent fasting not being very flexible, some individuals might find it tough on their social life especially if they enjoy dining out
- The dropout rate of intermittent fasting is high as it is not sustainable long-term; this may cause potential weight re-gain
And so here’s the Final Verdict on intermittent fasting
As we are all unique individuals, everyone is going to have a different experience with it, should they decide to try it. The most important thing is to follow your body’s cues and listen to what it’s telling you and find out what works for you; and what does not.
When done correctly, intermittent fasting is safe however it is also not sustainable long-term; using it to kick start a weight loss journey temporarily might be a good boost but ultimately nothing can compete with a healthy, balanced and varied diet, moderate portions, an active lifestyle and ultimately achieving a healthy mind, body and soul.