Intermittent fasting has become a trendy way of eating as it’s said to help with weight and body fat loss, aid with food cravings, lower blood insulin and sugar levels, improve mental clarity, increase energy, lower blood cholesterol, and even reverse Type 2 diabetes. But how can you fast successfully, and are there any dangers associated with going without food for an extended period of time? Nutritionist Sheeba Majmudar gives us the low-down on this diet regimen.
Q: What is intermittent fasting (IF) and does it work for weight loss and issues like diabetes and overeating?
Sheeba: IF is when you do not eat anything for more than 15 hours within a 24-hour period – this means you only consume your calories during a specific window of the day. If your only goal with IF is to lose weight then I advise caution because, depending on what you eat, weight loss may not occur.
IF can be effective if you’re using it to control your calorie intake and balance your hormone and insulin levels – clinical results have shown that it can improve insulin resistance, regulate diabetes and manage hormonal imbalances due to insulin resistance. Something to note, though: it seems to deliver better results for men than women because men have higher androgen levels and IF appears to benefit their metabolism more.
Q: Would you recommend IF to someone who experiences mild gastric attacks, and are there any health risks associated with IF?
Sheeba: If you have gastric issues, there are a couple of ways around it. For instance, taking an antacid product can alleviate the discomfort, but if you want a better, long-term solution, you can build up to the number of hours of fasting that you require.
There are no real dangers associated with IF, but if you do high-intensity cardio workouts, then your body may need additional carbohydrates for energy. Limiting the number of intense workouts and activities you do during your fasting hours is therefore a sensible approach.