Until very recently, the general consensus in nutrition circles was "eat little and often". Why? This was in order to stop blood sugar from dropping too low. Keeping blood sugar and insulin levels on an even keel was thought to be the best way to lose weight. Do not get us wrong. This method really does work especially if a person is used to eating a diet that is high in sugar and processed foods. Rome was not built in a day as they say and this definitely is the case when making dietary changes. Starting small but aiming big will always win the weight loss war.
Ok, so you have make huge changes to your diet. You've ditched the white bread and rice, eating protein and healthy fats with lots of lovely veggies but your weight loss has plateaued... What next? This is where Intermittent Fasting (IF) could be your secret weapon to get out of the starting blocks and back in the weight loss race.
For years, the dietary advice we have been given has been to simply restrict overall daily calorie intake, which the majority of us will find nigh on impossible and massively unsustainable in the long term. A whopping 90% of us will regain the weight we lost within the year and most will put on more!!! Why? Our body is very clever and certain hormones will tell our brain to reduce our metabolic rate as food is scarce, and others will signal to our brain that we are hungry so we really have to fight not to dip in the biscuit tin to satisfy the hunger. What is worse even if you have willpower of steel, our body gets used this lower calorie intake, reduces our metabolic rate accordingly and hey presto, weight loss is stalled.
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is the practice where a person alternates regular food intake with periods of either restricted intake or a strict fast. There are many different ways that you can fast, listed below are the ones that have been most scientifically researched with regards to weight loss:
Alternate Day Fasting (ADF): Alternating one day of modified fasting, which usually consists of 1 meal of 25% of normal caloric intake with one day of eating normally.
Periodic Fasting (PF): 1 or 2 days of fasting per week, with normal food consumption on all other days.
5:2 Diet: 5 days of ad libitum eating, 2 days (not consecutive) of 600-800 kcal/day.
Fasting-Mimicking Diet (FMD): 5 days of fasting per month with an intake of 50% of normal caloric intake, but a specific macronutrient composition.
Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) : Allowing a window of 8, 10 or 12 hours for eating and fasting outside of this window.
How Does it Work?
We humans are designed to switch between using glucose and fat for fuel. We put down body fat as an energy reserve so that when food is scarce, we can live off that for a while. When we eat, insulin is secreted and one of the things it does is stop fat-burning. If we keep topping up insulin by eating all the time, we will have a harder time losing body fat.
The good news for weight loss is that as the restriction is intermittent and not permanent, the body does not adapt, and the metabolic rate does not change. Hooray and hello weight loss!
I.F. is not only great for weight loss, it also has fantastic added health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, reducing glucose levels, increasing the number and enhancing the function of mitochondria (our energy production powerhouses) to name a few. You may also be able to ditch the expensive moisturisers as it appears to slow down the shortening of telomeres and which can slow down the aging process.
Which method is best?
As with everything, picking the method which suits you and your lifestyle will be the one that works for you. There is no one size fits all and it is definitely not for everybody. Please get advise from your GP or healthcare professional before you embark on any dietary changes. If you would like to try I.F. but not sure where to start, contact us here and we can advise you on how to get started on successful weight loss for life.