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Intermittent fasting: what's the lowdown?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Most diets focus on what to eat however intermittent fasting is all about when you eat! This impacts on how much you can eat overall and leads to changes in the body.

Intermittent fasting means you only eat during a certain time period. This can be achieved in many different ways. The most common ways to do this is the 5:2 diet where you calorie restrict on 2 days and then eat a balanced diet on the other remaining 5 days or the week. The concept has been derived from the idea that our bodies do better by partaking in intermittent fasting, given that when humans were hunters and gatherers, our bodies evolved to go without food for hours to days.

Whilst our bodies are definitely capable of doing this, now that we are no longer living in this era, this isn’t exactly needed. Research has shown that intermittent fasting could be an effective way however to fit in with our more sedentary lifestyles, better balancing our calorie intake and output but this it is not the only evidence based way.

How Does it Work?

It works via optimising a calorie deficit. When you are consistently eating and not moving enough, your body just burns the calories you have consumed. Therefore, intermittent fasting works because after going hours without food, your body will have already burnt through all of the calories from the last time you ate, so will start using your fat stores instead, in order to find energy.

What Are The Pros?

Intermittent fasting has only one proven benefit seen in clinical trials which is to support weight loss. The precise mechanism for weight loss is unclear but it is thought that it could be to do with the fact that once your blood levels of insulin drop, it is easier for your body to burn fat. This could also be because you are eating within a smaller window throughout the day, so consuming less food in general (therefore achieving a calorie deficit).

What Are The Cons?

How hard it is to follow! During clinical trials, intermittent fasting has one of the highest dropout rates of all the different clinical diet trials. Having such large gaps in-between meals can lead to symptoms such headaches, faintness and nausea.

Should I try it?

Intermittent fasting is not suitable for everyone! Other methods such as focusing on having 3 balanced meals a day does work and it may be more realistic for you longer term.

If you want to know if this the right approach for you, please get in contact for an assessment.

NB. You should always consult a medical professional if you are considering starting intermittent fasting as it is unsuitable in some medical conditions.

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