Is Intermittent Fasting a Fad or the Answer to Long Term Weight Loss?
Since Dr Michael Mosley (the fun Pommy Doctor on the tv) tried and tested intermittent fasting (he is the man behind the 5:2 Diet) and lost a shit-tonne of weight, the world has been obsessed with fasting as a way to lose weight, with all the additional health benefits that fasting also provides. Fasting isn’t so much a ‘diet’ as an alternative way of eating. There are scientific studies that show that fasting not only helps you lose weight, but can lower your cholestrerol and improve brain function.
Here’s what you need to know about Intermittent Fasting!
If you haven’t heard of Dr. Michael Mosley, he did a documentary on the BBC back in 2012 called ‘Eat Fast, Live Longer’. His documentary showed him trying fasting first hand to see if it genuinely worked and documented the findings. Using the 5:2 Diet he reversed his Type 2 Diabetes and lost a significant amount of weight. Dr. Mosley does make fasting sound so easy – and technically speaking it is. The 5:2 Diet is essentially eating normally five days per week, and restricting calories to only 500 calories per day for two days per week. This saw consistent weight loss over a period of time (I think he lost something like 1.5kg per week) – of course for women it is more like 1kg per week. We thought that we would examine intermittent fasting – the good and the bad – and to see if it might be suited to you – or whether you should keep well away from it!
Intermittent Fasting Isn’t Just the 5:2 Diet
Dr. Mosley might have started the fasting trend, but it has certainly grown and evolved since then. The other most popular methods of fasting include:
The 16/8 Method:
The 16/8 Method is fasting for 16 hours and eating normally for 8 hours. So you are essentially fasting every day of the week – but only eating your food at certain times of the day. This method is really asking you to skip breakfast altogether, then starting your day at lunchtime.
If you wake up starving first thing in the morning, this wouldn’t be for you. However, if you can easily skip breakfast (it really isn’t the most important meal of the day) – this might perhaps be the easiest method of sticking to the 16/8 Method. This method has been widely regarded as the easiest way to fast effectively.
The good thing about the 16/8 diet is that you can choose the ‘window’ in which to eat depending on when you feel the most hungry. So for example, you might be a big breakfast eater, so you could choose the ‘eating window’ from 9 am to 5 pm, and then cease to eat after then. But if you can easily skip breakfast you might choose noon to 8 pm. As long as you stick to the 16:8 – you are on track.
The Eat Stop Eat Method:
The Eat Stop Eat Method is where you fast for a whole 24 hours, once or twice during the week. This method sounds really tough!
Involves only drinking water and going without food for a short period of time (usually 24 hours).
You know all those diet shakes out there that you substitute a meal for a shake? Well, that is shake fasting.
More Reading: List of the Best Weight Loss Shake Options in Australia
What Does Fasting Actually Do To Your Body?
Fasting isn’t a new thing. In fact, when you consider that fasting is a large part of many religions and cultures and that humans in the stone age didn’t eat three meals per day, it seems that fasting occasionally is actually the ‘norm’ when it comes to humans.
But fasting isn’t just about losing weight. There are also scientific studies that show fasting improves the body’s blood sugar controls which is especially great for diabetics. Fasting can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, may boost brain function and could delay aging.
You Can’t Just ‘Eat What You Like’ on a Fasting Diet
And this is the downfall… I must admit I thought great – I can eat whatever I like as long as it is within the ‘fasting window’ – but apparently stuffing my face with jam doughnuts for eight hours per day won’t allow me to lose weight.
The diet means that you still need to stick to a balanced diet for the food you do eat during your eating window.
Side Effects of Intermittent Fasting
Like all diets, starting is always hard. During your fast, you may feel hungry, tired and weak at first until your body gets used to the plan. Plus if you allow your body to get way too hungry – you may easily overeat when it does come time to consume food.
Some people also have reflux as they ‘scoff’ food once they are allowed to eat.
Who Intermittent Fasting Isn’t Suitable For
Intermittent fasting is perfectly good for you if done correctly and you eat well during your eating window. But like everything, there are exceptions to the rule. If you are:
- Suffering anxiety or depression
Then this diet may not be suitable for you. There are studies that show that although fasting is great for people with anxiety and depression, calorie restrictions don’t go down so well. So make sure you check with your Doctor.
Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need extra calories so fasting is not recommended for these women.
How Much Weight Can I Lose Doing Intermittent Fasting?
According to the Healthline website, most people lost .025kg per week with intermittent fasting, and 0.75kg per week with the alternative day fasting (ie the 5:2).
So is Intermittent Fasting the Key to Long Term Weight Loss?
If you can stick to it and eat healthy at other times, yes. It is a great way to slowly lose weight and learn how to eat well. Fasting also seems like a less convoluted way to diet.
I’m going to give it a go!
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