WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING AND IS IT SUITED TO YOU?
WORDS: Jacqueline Alwill, Nutritionist
You probably would have heard either of the 5:2 or 16:8 diet by now and if you’ve not then you’re in the right place because this will give you insight. I’d heard of both and read a lot, but remained skeptical until recently. Skeptical because through practice and from personal experience I understand how some of us can let the way we eat control so many other parts of our lives, including the way we think, and not in the right way at times.
For many it can impact the way we think quite negatively and complicate what otherwise may be incredibly enjoyable…the world of food. So with fasting or considering fasting, I tread carefully. However having good nutrition knowledge under my belt and having recently been given a copy of Lee Holmes most recently published book ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ (Lee has a very educated and balanced approach to diet) I decided that I could learn more by actually giving fasting a go. Before I progress further, let’s look at the facts around fasting…
So we’re clear we’re talking about intermittent fasting, rather than a short fast (2-3 days) which reduces caloric intake over a period of time to ignite a metabolic response. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle approach.
There are a couple of main intermittent fasting approaches. 5:2 is based on 5 days of normal eating and 2 fast days whereby you reduce your caloric intake to a minimum. Around 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.
16:8 is based on fasting for a 16 hour window and eating within an 8 hour window. Therefore your day of eating may start at say 10 or 11am and finish by 6 or 7pm.
5:2 hasn’t been replaced by 16:8 rather more research has been undertaken around fasting and a new format of fast periods developed which is where 16:8 comes in.
Whilst 5:2 is definitely an effective way to fast, the benefits I understand from 16:8 is that you’re able to get into more of a routine each day by having the 8 hour window each day to eat.
On a 16:8 fast plan your day may look as so…
DAILY FOOD PLAN
16:8 you most likely won’t eat breakfast, unless you plan to eat dinner at 2pm each day
Rising: Herbal/green/black tea, water
11am: Scrambled eggs, avocado, sautéed greens (v)
3pm: Veggie wrap with piece of chicken or legumes (v) or yoghurt with berries and nuts
7pm: Beef stew or Vegetarian Curry (v)
Sounds fairly simple right?
And in fact it is… with a considerable number of health benefits too including:
- Change in body composition including reduced fat mass
- Improving metabolic rate
- Utilising stored fat rather than carbohydrate as fuel
- Decreasing triglyceride levels
- Reducing inflammation
- Normalising insulin, leptin and ghrelin the “hunger hormones”
So whilst body composition and fat loss are many people’s motives, there are a whole host of other reasons that intermittent fasting can be of great benefit to those whose lifestyles can manage it. And, most importantly for those who aren’t using it as another fad diet option to shred quickly, because frankly that’s not the approach we should have with our diet. What goes off quickly comes on even quicker!
What Lee outlines in her book ‘Fast Your Way to Wellness’ and through my learnings, is that fasting can and should be incorporated as a way of life. Not something you go on and off within a month. Make sense? Which is precisely why it needs to be considered something you do for long term health and I believe suited to some individuals more than others. There is no one size fits all approach to diet. And I emphasise this here because I will in all efforts give you as much information surrounding different diets and foods, nutrition and health, but in doing so this is not saying try this, try that, rather, look at what works for you and GENTLY integrate into your life.
This is the approach I’ve taken to fasting, and for me it works well. If you’d like even more of the juice around fasting, be sure to pick up a copy of Lee Holmes, ‘Fast Your Way To Wellness’. Meantime have a sneak peek on the recipes you’ll find in there this week on thebrownpaperbag.com.au