Intermittent fasting – Weight loss cure or fad diet?

Niamh Kinsella

diet concept

Ultimately, all diets achieve weight loss the same way, by eating less calories than you burn. But intermittent fasting, what is it?

Is it safe, or just a new fad diet? To answer these questions, let’s first define what intermittent fasting is. With intermittent fasting, a person severely limits their calories during certain days of the week or during specified hours during a day.

The first, fasting during certain days of the week, can be known as the 5:2 diet. This is where you eat normally for five out of seven days of the week, and on the other two days you limit your calories to between 500-600 per day. The second, eating during specified hours during a day can be known as the 8:16 diet. This is where a person will eat within a window time frame of 6-8 hours in a day, and fast for the remaining 16-18 hours of the day. 

There has not been any thorough research carried out on people who have an intermittent fasting lifestyle to conclude whether it is harmful to us or not, or even sustainable in the long run. Depending on your usual lifestyle it may or may not be attainable.

If you usually skip meals or feel like you’re too busy to eat sometimes, then it could be worth a try. However, if you are a person who likes to snack every couple of hours then this approach probably won’t work for you.  If you are considering trying it, you should consult your doctor first. Different methods suit different people, so doing what’s best for you is always the safest option.

If you’re overweight, the 5:2 method of intermittent fasting can ultimately improve your blood sugar regulation which in the long term leads to weight loss. If not, it can possibly do more harm than good.

In scientific terms, this is because when your body breaks down fats to make energy, it increases the levels of fatty acids in your blood. Therefore, during intermittent fasting, your fatty acid levels will fluctuate considerably, each time you start and stop fasting, causing a hinderance in your blood sugar levels.

If you’re not overweight, following the 8:16 diet would be the safest option for you. This is because your fatty acid levels do not fluctuate as much in 16-18 hours as they do in 24+ hours.

Regardless if you’re over or underweight, there is limited research to either support or condemn intermittent fasting as being a safe or unsafe dieting technique. Any type of dieting technique must be considered alongside one’s own health and medical history in order to consider it attainable.

 

Niamh Kinsella

Image Credit: Martin Vorel