Thinking of intermittent fasting: Know the pros and cons

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 major components – What to and not to eat - What quantity to eat – when to eat.

This diet schedule is popular amongst those who are hoping for loss weight. Fasting stimulates your fat cells to break down to provide energy, thereby resulting in weight loss. In reference to the scientific evidence that is available, this type of eating schedule or pattern needs further research. Rasika Parab, Head of Department, Nutrition Therapy, Fortis Hospital, Mulund highlights the different types of IF, things to keep in mind while following this diet and the benefits and the drawbacks associated with this diet.

Different ways to follow intermittent fasting:

16/8 method allows you to eat for 8 hours a day coupled with 16hours of fasting. You may eat 3-4times in given 8hrs of the eating window. Also, you may keep sipping non-caloric beverages such as water, sugar-free lemon juice, green tea, etc., even during your fasting phase. This method 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 5days of the week can be normal eating days. Alternate day fasting allows you to keep a normal eating window every alternate day.

The Warrior Diet allows you to eat a very 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 registered or 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 target outcomes. Fasting/IF needs more evidence to prove its impact.

Benefits of intermittent fasting:

Few studies are suggesting 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 and 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 very 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.


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