03 May 2018
Is intermittent fasting as good as its touted to be? Does it really work and help you lose weight effectively? Let’s find out.
Intermittent fasting simply involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting. It’s one of the newest and most popular trends sweeping the world right now, but what are the benefits of intermittent fasting?
Well, some studies claim this on/off approach to dieting improves metabolic health, helps in weight loss, reduces heart disease and helps us live longer by protecting against disease.
Lofty claims indeed. Let’s have a closer look.
Basically, you create a cycle of calorie restriction that can either split your days or your entire week into periods of eating and fasting. There are three common or most popular versions for you to intermittent fast:
The 5:2 Diet lets you eat normally 5 days of the week, and then consume only 500 to 600 calories each day for the other two.
The 16/8 Diet breaks your diet into 24 hour periods. Fasting for 16 hours of each day, you don’t eat anything. For the other 8, you eat normally. And the key is to eat normally. You’ll achieve nothing but fat and ill health if you binge on fast food during your eating phase.
The Eat-Stop-Eat Diet is a bit more extreme. Once or twice each week, you eat absolutely nothing from dinner time one day until dinner time the next. That’s 24 hours without eating anything and a tough ask for most of us.
The Alternate-Day Fasting Method allows you to fast every other day. This approach comes with a variety of versions including a maximum of 500 calories on fasting days.
The Warrior Diet is focused on fasting during the day and eating a large meal at night. In the day fasting, you are allowed small amounts of raw fruit and vegetables and then a very large meal at night.
That’s a matter of personal choice, but the general consensus leans towards the 16/8 Diet. Fasters find it easier to stick to as, if you plan it right, it can almost mimic the way we eat anyway. For example, if you’re inclined to eat two meals – lunch and dinner, and skip breakfast – the 8 hours are there for you to do just that, and then fast for the rest.
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Again, your eating and fasting phases must complement each other to have any effect. So stick to lean meats – chicken and fish – as much as possible, lots of fruit and veggies, and avoid takeaways.
During the fasting phase, you can’t eat at all, but you can drink water, tea, coffee, and any other drinks containing no or minimal calories.
Well, it seems that the human body is tough enough to cope with periods of sustained fasting. This pattern is known to have evidence-based health benefits.
Fasting is simple, though some would say a time-consuming way to minimise calorie intake, burn fat and lose weight. It may also have side benefits for general health and protection against some diseases, though this is still far from fact.
All said and done, intermittent fasting, done sensibly, does seem to be a viable diet option.
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