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Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
  • Arati Shah

  • 14, Jan. 2020

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

Intermittent fasting was a hot topic in 2019. It has become a feature of many weight management programs today. People are showing results in terms of weight loss and are also reporting feeling lighter and more energetic. Clinical nutrition programs are also experimenting with intermittent fasting and many are seeing an improvement in blood sugar levels, blood lipid levels and also a reduction in blood pressure levels. The age old fasting tradition has been remodeled in the west and has now made a comeback in India. So, what is this intermittent fasting? Is it really effective? Can it improve health markers?Is it safe? Is it just a short term fix? Who is the best dietitian in Mumbai for intermittent diet plans? Explore this diet trend with us and see whether it is as good as the claims that have been made for it. 

What is intermittent fasting? 

Intermittent fasting or “IF” as it is widely called is an eating pattern which focuses on when to eat rather than what and how much to eat. It cycles between periods of fasting and periods of unrestricted eating. It would be correct to say that IF is just a pattern of eating that reduces one’s eating window each day to about 8 hours. 

There are different versions of this diet. A qualified clinical nutritionist can help you decide on the method best suited for you based on your schedule and health goals. Some common forms of IF are: 

  1. 16:8: This method is the most popular one.It is called as the Leangain’s protocol and involves eating only during an eight-hour window during the day and fasting for the remaining 16 hours. It is commonly done from 1-9 pm where the individual starts his meals with lunch and ends it with dinner.  

  1. 5:2:This type involves capping on the calories wherein you eat 500 calories for 2 days in a week. These meals are supposed to be rich in protein and fiber with a long satiating effect. The other five days of the week you eat normally. 

  1. Alternate days fasting: As the name suggests, one can faston alternate days. Some people choose to go without food all day while some consume a calorie restricted meal once a day on the fasting day. 

Here are some benefits of intermittent fasting: 

  • Reduces inflammation: Inflammation is a sign of oxidative damage which is a sign and cause of many diseases. Fasting has shown to reduce inflammatory markers. 

  • Insulin resistance: There is good amount of research that proves that intermittent fasting helps in improving insulin sensitivity and hence insulin resistance.  

  • Fat loss: Most people following this diet regimen are doing it to reap this benefit. There have been significant reductions in fat percentages of people following intermittent fasting. The reduction in insulin levels leads to usage of stored fat for energy. The entire idea of IF is to allow the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat. 

  • Improves brain health: Intermittent fasting has shown to increase the Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor that helps in strengthening brain cells and also making new ones.  

  • Dyslipidemia: It has been observed that fasting helps in reducing Low Density Lipoprotein i.e. the ‘bad’ cholesteroland increase High Density Lipoprotein i.e. the ‘good’ cholesterol. Maintaining a good lipid profile is imperative for heart health.  

 

Fasting though good, also comes with potential side effects and risks. Some are listed below: 

Not sustainable:Weight loss programs or weight management programs work best when there is alifestyle change which is sustainable. Intermittent fasting can work as a quick fix for a short period of time but is not really sustainable due to the extreme restrictions. 

No quality: Yes, meal timings are important but isn’t the quality of the food important too? As mentioned earlier, it majorly concentrates on eating pattern and not quality. After starving yourself for 16 hours, it is humanto make poor food choices and turn the ‘eating’ phase to a ‘feasting’ phase. Filling yourself with junk in eating phases will not prove to be the best way to lose weight and it may have ill effects on your overall health. 

Low productivity: Long hours of staying hungry can lead to lethargy and consequently, unproductive days. Inadequate fueling can lead to irritability and low concentration levels. It may also lead to no or low motivation to exercise which is an important part of any healthy weight loss journey. 

Lack of calorie deficit: Weight loss occurs when you are burning calories than you are consuming. But, in intermittent fasting this may not always be the case. One may end up consuming the same calories in the eating phase if the foods eaten are not healthy. 

Disrupted social life: Eating is a big part of socializing today. All our social events like meetings or weddings revolve around food. The restricted eating can make you feel like you are missing out on the fun and food.        

One size does NOT fit all! 

Now that we have discussed what intermittent fasting is, can all experiment with it? 

For someone who is healthy and wants to try intermittent fasting it should not be difficult. However, people with diabetes, eating disorders, serious medical conditions, individuals who are over or under weight must consult a qualified health professional before starting with this kind of an eating pattern. To conclude, we need to understand that intermittent fasting isn’t a magic pill. A fitness nutritionist can build an effective weight management program with intermittent fasting by combining a healthy diet of nutritious real foods with regular exercise and adequate sleep.