What is Intermittent Fasting?
The latest trend and word on the street is intermittent fasting (IF), but what is Intermittent Fasting? Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and feasting. There is still a focus on eating healthy foods, but the main focus is when to eat them. IF is not a diet and there is no focus on restricting food groups – however reduced caloric intake may result.
This method dates back to the hunter and gatherer lifestyles, where humans fasted due to the non availability of food – yet we still survived! The IF practise is also common in religious practises also – such as the Muslims during Ramadan.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
The typical eating and fasting phase of an IF diet look like 8 hours of eating and 16 hours of fasting, but some other choose a more extreme version with a smaller eating window.
- Eating Phase of an 8 hour window for example 12pm – 8pm
- Fasting Phase of a 16 hour window 8pm-12 midday
During the fasting periods you eat either very little or nothing at all. For best results it is recommended to stick to the basic fluids of water, green tea, black tea and black coffee.
Why Intermittent Fasting
- Insulin sensitivity improves and levels of insulin drop dramatically. Lower insulin levels make stored body fat more accessible, encouraging the body to burn more fat stores. It also helps regulate the body’s insulin sensitivity and hormone regulation.
- Intermittent fasting increases release of the fat burning hormone norepinephrine (noradrenaline)
- Over time after eating during the 8 hour window, you will start to get fuller quicker. By eating fewer meals, intermittent fasting can lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake without an actual focus and purpose of calorie restriction.
- Some studies show reduction in body inflammation, a key driver of many chronic diseases
- Heart Health: Intermittent fasting may reduce LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance.
- Brain Health: Intermittent fasting increases a brain hormone called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor which aids the growth of new nerve cells
- I feel a major benefit of intermittent fasting is that it makes healthy eating simpler. There are less meals to prep, cook and clean up after.
- NOTE: Intermittent Fasting is NOT suitable for everyone. Please consult with your health care practitioner if intermittent fasting is suitable for you, especially if you are diabetic or pregnant.
- Intermittent fasting alone is not recommended for weight loss. A healthy diet and active lifestyle is recommended. Results may vary. Individuals who are underweight or have a history of eating disorders should not fast. There is also some evidence that intermittent fasting may be harmful for some women.