Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that embraces strategic periods of voluntary food and beverage abstinence. With roots tracing back through cultures and religions, intermittent fasting has emerged as a contemporary approach to weight management and holistic health enhancement. If you are considering embracing the journey toward improved well-being with insights into this popular practice, read on….
What are the different types of intermittent fasting?
There are numerous methods of intermittent fasting. The main types are:
Alternate-day fasting - this involves abstaining or eating a very small amount of food on fasting days whilst continuing to eat a nutrient-rich diet including a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats on the days in between. The 5:2 diet is an example of this which involves eating what you want five days a week and dramatically cutting the calories for two days per week.
Time-restricted eating/feeding - this involves a set time for fasting and food intake. For example, the 16:8 method is where food intake is limited to an 8 hour period with a 16 hour fast.
Whole-day fasting - this method may involve fasting for a 24 hour period one day per week, and usual intake of nutrient-rich foods on the remaining 6 days. However, this method is not recommended without supervision.
What is the impact of intermittent fasting on the body?
For many, intermittent fasting has been adopted as a way to facilitate weight loss. Multiple studies suggest that alternate-day fasting may reduce BMI, body weight and waist circumference while also improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels in individuals that are overweight or obese. Intermittent fasting is also thought to improve insulin and glucose; metabolic markers that are associated with chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes.
It is proposed that early time-restricted eating and aligning food intake when circadian rhythm is optimised for nutrition may be effective in improving metabolic health. For example, insulin levels naturally peak during the day, so the consumption of large meals at night will still stimulate the release of insulin against the hormone’s natural cadence, so eating at night is bets avoided. Furthermore, it is established that those with a disrupted circadian rhythm, such as shift workers, were at an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Syncing periods of fasting in line with the circadian rhythm may be a positive way to improve health independent of weight loss.
Is it suitable for me?
Though the proposed benefits of intermittent fasting in animal studies is strong, the evidence in human studies is still limited. It is important to note that intermittent fasting may not be appropriate or suitable for everyone. Prolonged fasting for periods longer than 24 hours can be dangerous and should only be carried out with the support of a qualified practitioner.
How can I find out which diets work well for me?
Here at MyHealthChecked, our experts have developed our Weight Management DNA Test to help you manage your weight. Understanding how your genes are involved in the control of your appetite and how your body metabolises certain food types is important in determining a personalised approach weight management.
Using a simple and pain-free cheek swab sample, you can receive a comprehensive report that helps you understand the diet and lifestyle changes you can make based on your DNA to optimise weight management. This includes your predisposition to metabolising protein, carbohydrate and saturated fat along with your risk of maintaining weight loss without exercise.