Intermittent Fasting: The Health Benefits and How to Get Started
Intermittent fasting has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people incorporating it into their lifestyles for various health benefits. In this blog post, we’ll explore what intermittent fasting is, the potential health benefits, and how to get started with this practice.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves alternating periods of eating and fasting. The most popular methods include the 16/8 method, where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an 8-hour window, and the 5:2 method, where you eat normally for 5 days and restrict your calorie intake to 500-600 calories for 2 days (1).
Potential Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
1. Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting can help you lose weight by reducing calorie intake and boosting metabolism (2). It has been shown to be just as effective as traditional calorie-restricted diets.
2. Improved Insulin Sensitivity
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (3).
3. Reduced Inflammation
Intermittent fasting has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s (4).
4. Improved Brain Function
Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve brain function, including increased focus and concentration (5).
How to Get Started with Intermittent Fasting
1. Choose a Method
Choose a method that works best for you, such as the 16/8 method or the 5:2 method.
2. Start Slowly
Start slowly by gradually increasing your fasting period. For example, start with 12 hours of fasting and gradually increase to 16 hours.
3. Stay Hydrated
Stay hydrated during the fasting period by drinking water, tea, or black coffee.
4. Plan Your Meals
Plan your meals in advance to ensure that you are getting the proper nutrition during your eating period.
5. Listen to Your Body
Listen to your body and adjust your fasting and eating periods as needed. If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, it may be time to break your fast.
Intermittent fasting can offer numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and improved brain function. By choosing a method that works for you, starting slowly, staying hydrated, planning your meals, and listening to your body, you can reap the benefits of intermittent fasting. As with any diet or lifestyle change, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting intermittent fasting to ensure that it’s right for you.
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- Sokołowska, M. M. et al., 2019. Intermittent Fasting in Cardiovascular Disorders—An Overview. Nutrients, 11(3), p. 673.
- Welton, S. et al., 2020. Intermittent fasting and weight loss. The College of Family Physicians of Canada, 66(2), pp. 117-125.
- Mattson, M. P. & Wan, R., 2005. Beneficial effects of intermittent fasting and caloric restriction on the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular systems. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 16(3), pp. 129-137.
- Wang , X. et al., 2020. Effects of intermittent fasting diets on plasma concentrations of inflammatory biomarkers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutrition, Volume 79-80.
- Li, L., Wang, Z. & Zuo, Z., 2013. Chronic Intermittent Fasting Improves Cognitive Functions and Brain Structures in Mice. PLoS ONE, 8(6).