Benefits of intermittent fasting
BY Added Health Editorial Team | 09 May 2023
What is IF? Intermittent Fasting (IF) is trendy. It’s because you can have a jog but still have fuel in the tank to horse around with the kids after school.
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a way to accelerate weight loss and sustain the health gains you have already made. Research has also shown the health benefits are multifaceted. Fasting is a cost-free therapeutic option for a wide variety of neurological diseases.We recommend IF over other options such as a weekly full-day fast or caloric restriction over a few days each week as IF can more easily be incorporated into a daily or weekly routine to become a habit. Practising IF once or twice per week is beneficial but doing it every day is ideal. In addition, compared with a weekly full-day fast, IF allows you to maintain your energy levels, enabling you to continue exercising daily and have energy left over to play with the kids or grandkids.
Regular fasting or caloric restriction has been shown to reduce body fat, as well the risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.There is also evidence that it may help to slow the ageing process. In addition, regular fasting gives your digestive system and the associated metabolic system a break and enables your body to switch from burning carbohydrates to fats more efficiently.
How often should I fast?
To gain benefits from 16:8 fasting, 1–2 days per week is a great start. For maximum benefit, do it daily, so it’s part of your daily routine. Alternatively, some people prefer to fast for a total of 24 hours, albeit less frequently, eg, once a week (or less frequently, like once a month). The point is that giving your body a break from food regularly is good for you. While fasting, you can continue to have tea, coffee (with no sugar or milk), and lots of water.
It is important to let your doctor know you will be fasting and adjust your medications as needed, especially if you have diabetes or heart disease. Always follow the advice of your GP or health care professional whilst fasting. When breaking your fast, start with a small, light meal. Then continue to eat as per your usual hunger signals. The mantra is: only eat when properly hungry, eat slowly and stop when you feel full.
The take-home message
- Dinner at 7pm and skipping breakfast (eating your first meal the next day at 12pm).
- Eating at 5pm and having your first meal of the day at 10am.
- Some people prefer to skip dinner and keep eating breakfast and lunch. This flexibility allows you to work around a busy lifestyle.
Phillips, M.C.L. (2019) ‘Fasting as a Therapy in Neurological Disease’, Nutrients, 11 (10), Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11102501
Harvie, M., Wright, C. and Pegington, M. et al. (2013) ‘The effect of intermittent energy and carbohydrate restriction v. daily energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers in overweight women’, The British Journal of Nutrition, 110 (8), pp. 1534–1547. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114513000792