What is Intermittent Fasting?
By now, you may have heard about this new way of dieting called Intermittent fasting (IF). Promoted by celebrities and social media influencers the diet involves going for a certain period of time without eating and has become a popular method for weight loss with claims of all sorts of added benefits. There are different types of fasting techniques which can involve not eating for a whole day or more, restricting the amount of energy consumed on certain days, to less extreme methods where consuming food is restricted to certain times during the day.
Popular methods of intermittent fasting include;
- The 16:8 Method: Perhaps the most popular form of IF, the 16:8 method involves skipping breakfast and restricting your daily eating period to 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours in between.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: This involves fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week.
- The 5:2 Diet: This method means you consume only 2000–2500 kilojoules on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days
Are there any benefits to Intermittent Fasting?
In short; yes. At the current moment research has shown that IF is a perfectly acceptable way to lose weight and may be considered an alternative to equally effective traditional methods of weight loss and dieting, such as continuous energy restriction. While short term studies have shown positive outcomes for weight loss, long term outcomes such as adherences or any adverse health effects are yet to be determined. Studies around IF and energy expenditure are also of great value as it is still undetermined if energy restriction has any impact on a person’s ability to maintain physical activity. For active people, they may find themselves increasingly tired and lethargic on fasting days.
Other benefits to IF such as increased insulin sensitivity, resistance to diabetes, lowered resting heart rate and blood pressure are often spouted about on social media, these benefits have only been found in studies on rats and it is still unknown if these findings translate to human subjects. More study is required to determine if there are any real benefits or risks associated with IF beyond weight loss.
Should I try Intermittent Fasting?
It may be suitable for the average, healthy population but it is not recommended for;
- Pregnant/lactating women
- Older adults/ Frail adults
- People with immunodeficiencies
- People on medication that require regular intake of food,
- People with a history of eating disorders
- People with dementia
It is also not recommended that people with diabetes adopt an IF style diet unless under the strict supervision of medical professionals and Accredited Practising Dietitians.
The Takeaway Message
In conclusion, IF may be used as an alternative to other forms of dieting and has shown to produce similar weight loss results in short term studies to the more common continuous energy restriction style dieting. For people who find other forms of dieting difficult to adhere to IF may be another option. Like all forms of dieting there is no one size fits all and there are many considerations to take into account before starting a new eating regime. It is best to get the advice of a Dietitian to find out what type of weight loss method will suit you and your health needs.
This article was written by Katherine Ramsden, nutritionist at Nutrition Force.
Nutrition Force is a Western Australian based company of Nutritionists and Accredited Practising Dietitians that offer private dietetic consultations, children’s nutrition & dietetics, fussy eating, school nutrition and corporate wellness programs. If you would like more information on our Perth Dietitians and the other services we offer call today on (08) 9385 7755.