Could THIS be the answer? You may have heard of intermittent fasting (IF) in recent years and perhaps you’re wondering if this might be for you? Let’s take a look at some facts…
Intermittent fasting is what it says it is. It is an approach to weight loss based on the idea of fasting (eating nothing) on a regular repeating basis. It’s not the same as the sort of religious and or cultural fasting that is familiar in Jewish, Muslim, and certain other cultures/religions (these religious fasts typically occur over several weeks once a year). IF has emerged over the last 5-10 years. There are broadly-speaking, three forms of intermittent fasting:
- Alternate-Day-Fasting – one day of eating, one day of fasting, repeat. This is probably the most severe/tough form of IF.
- Whole-Day-Fasting – fasting on specified days. The best know variant here is the 5:2 plan where you eat for 5 days and fast for two.
- Time-Based-Fasting – this is a more flexible approach where you fast for a number of hours each day with an “eating period” between. This is often seen as 16-hours of fasting and 8-hours of eating, each day.
What’s the idea?
There are various theories proposed in support of this dieting approach but the basics appear to be:
- We know that weight loss must and can only come about when we eat less (fewer calories) than we use (burn up) and so it’s seems clear that fasting (eating nothing) may help.
- Fasting may be associated with lower insulin levels and this in turn may reduce the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. The science is complex and confusing here (including debates about what comes first: obesity then insulin resistance or insulin resistance first) but the theory is at least interesting.
Does it work?
You’ll find plenty of people who have lost weight with IF and are keen to share their success with you. Unfortunately, some caution is needed: there are conflicting research results and it seems that IF offers no more benefits than mainstream weight-loss advice (eat well, eat less, exercise more). There may also be some risks and negative effects (slower metabolism, low energy, irritability, mood swings, etc.). On balance then, as at mid-2019, the evidence is mixed and inconclusive, despite there being several enthusiastic proponents of the approach.
Intermittent fasting is an interesting approach to the very-real challenge of weight loss. The evidence is not conclusive yet, and there are some risks. At this time we do not recommend intermittent fasting but we do suggest you stay updated on this going into the future.