Understanding intermittent fasting along with its pros and cons

Rasika Parab, Head of Department, Nutrition Therapy, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, shares her insights about the pros and cons of intermittent fasting

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The term Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an eating schedule that comprises of eating and fasting phases; it can also be called intermittent calorie restriction. Here the focus is on when to eat, rather than what to eat, and hence it cannot be called diet, but rather an eating pattern or schedule.

Any accurate diet plan has to have three components — what to & not to eat – what quantity to eat – when to eat. The IF diet schedule is popular amongst those hoping for weight loss. Fasting stimulates your fat cells to break down to provide energy, thereby resulting in weight loss. About the available scientific evidence, this type of eating schedule or pattern needs further research.

Different ways to follow intermittent fasting

16/8 method allows you to eat for eight hours a day coupled with 16 hours of fasting. You may eat 3-4 times in given eight hours of the eating window. Also, you may keep sip on non-caloric beverages such as water, sugar-free lemon juice, green tea, likewise, even during your fasting phase. It is also called as Time-Restricted Feeding

Fasting two days a week is known a 5:2 method of Intermittent Fasting. Minimal calories are allowed on fasting days; rest five days can be normal eating days. Alternate day fasting allows you to keep a normal eating window.

The Warrior Diet allows you to eat a low-calorie diet throughout the day and consume calorie-dense meals at night.

Key points to keep in mind when planning to go on this diet:

Before planning to go on any diet, you must consult a qualified nutritionist. Diet plan can never be the same for two people, it is always customised as per one’s needs, with a clear understanding of health conditions and outcomes. More evidence is needed to prove the impact of Fasting/IF.

Benefits of intermittent fasting:

Few studies suggest that fasting reduces Insulin levels in the blood, which causes weight loss. More fasting hours also restricts the total calorie intake. Fasting may also reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, and other lifestyle & Obesity-related disorders, but more studies are required to corroborate this.

Drawbacks of intermittent fasting:

Long hours of fasting lower your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which also can lead to fat deposition and weight gain. Fasting may lead to feasting or overeating, as you feel hungry after long hours of fasting.

Keeping control of food portion or quantity during our eating window plays an essential part in sustaining weight loss. Fasting can also make you feel tired, weak, and irritable.