Guide to intermittent fasting: The benefits, weight loss results, disclaimers and how it can work for you
The term of intermittent fasting is the new buzzword in wellness that is said to help in weight loss and boost energy amongst other health benefits. But it's neither a diet plan nor is it one that involves exercising. To put it plainly, it's said to be an eating pattern.
WHAT IS IT
Intermittent fasting (IF), as the name suggests, requires an individual to go on periods of voluntary abstinence from calorie-containing foods and drinks in order to lose weight. It can be divided into three categories namely: alternate-day fasting, whole-day fasting and time-restricted feeding.
HOW IT WORKS
Most individuals opt for the 16:8 diet — meaning you fast for 16 hours and only eat during the remaining eight hours.
IS IT EFFECTIVE?
When conducted to a reasonable level of rigour, consistency and discipline, an individual would most definitely have a high chance of losing weight effectively. (Disclaimer: Everyone's body reacts differently to different interventions and perceptions of rigour and discipline may vary).
However, if you are looking towards IF as a short-term intervention to bring your weight down in the quickest possible way, do note that there may be a chance of rebound past your original weight.
TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL FAST
Adequate planning: If you have set your mind to doing IF, it is important to evaluate your daily lifestyle, habits and regular commitments, and plan your fasting window around it to minimise disruption to your quality of life.
Balanced diet: With every meal, include healthy whole foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and sources of protein. Binge-eating on junk foods during the period of break-fast, will do more harm than good to the plan. Hydrate yourself with plenty of water during the time of fast, which can also help curb your appetite.
Mental preparation: If you are only allowed to eat in an 8-hour window period, notify your family members and friends of the IF journey that you are going to embark on, just so to set their expectations of your dietary restrictions. And be prepared that you may have to make some sacrifices in social situations.
Find a partner: If you have a buddy or partner to walk this journey with, it really helps to be accountable for your success or shortfalls.
Prevent rebound: If you are thinking of weaning of yourself from IF, always give yourself a months time to gradually adjust back to eating meals at regular intervals.
Have an open-mind: As mentioned previously, there is more than one way to do IF. If one does not work out for you, talk to people in the community whom have tried other forms to gain a better understanding of their success stories or struggles so that you can decide for yourself whether to try it out.